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Joyce Meyer gives deposition in Coleman Case

Joyce Meyer makes her way into the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo on April 6, 2011, to give a deposition in the Coleman murder case. Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle, scordle@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • An insurance company is asking a federal judge to free it from paying televangelist Joyce Meyer's legal bills in the Christopher Coleman wrongful death lawsuit.

Lawyers for Coleman's slain wife, Sheri, refiled a lawsuit in May seeking damages from Meyer and her ministry, where Coleman worked as a bodyguard. It alleged that Meyer and her ministry should have known that mysterious threats written to Coleman's family came from Coleman, who was convicted in May of murdering his wife and two sons in 2009.

Now, the ministry's insurance provider, Virginia-based Essex Insurance Co., says it isn't required to defend the suit because of policy exclusions and changes related to battery and bodily injury. The insurance company filed a motion for declaratory judgment on Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

In November 2008, obscenity-laced messages began appearing in Coleman's email box saying an unknown assailant would kill his family in their sleep. They also asked for Meyer "to stop preaching [expletive] or Chris's family will die."

The bodies of Sheri, Garett and Gavin Coleman were found on May 5, 2009, by police.

The wrongful death suit alleges that Meyer had a 'special duty" as the Colemans' counselor to warn his family and that the ministry should have known the threats came from Coleman himself. Police were notified of the threats.

Prosecutors said that Coleman killed his family to start a new life with his mistress in Florida.

Mike King, the ministry's lawyer, says the ministry has done nothing wrong.

The ministry has been in court since 2009. Court documents indicate Essex has been footing the bill.

King said he wasn't surprised by the insurance company's action.

"Any time you have intentional acts, you have some coverage issues," he said.

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