Man suing Catholic church over alleged abuse by priest

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The Calgary Sun

First posted: | Updated: Sunday, January 31, 2016 12:26 AM MST

By , Calgary Sun

Calgary CourthouseCalgary courthouse in downtown Calgary, Alberta.

The victim of years of sexual abuse at the hands of a Calgary Catholic priest in the 1970s still suffers “flashbacks,” a $4-million lawsuit claims.

The 52-year-old plaintiff, whom Postmedia is not naming as a result of the sexual nature of the lawsuit, says he was victimized by convicted child molester Fr. Robert Joseph Whyte.

Whyte, who died in 2014, was sentence to four years in Calgary in 1990 after admitting sexually abusing boys between 1962 and 1982.

The plaintiff, a former altar boy at churches in Cochrane and Water Valley, was in contact with Whyte between 1972 and 1979, when he was between the ages of eight and 15.

His claim says the Catholic church in Alberta was responsible for overseeing Whyte and are liable for his misconduct.

It says in 1977 the church arranged for Whyte to “attend treatment for incidents of abuse not relating to (the plaintiff).”

“The defendants knew, or ought to have known that Father Whyte had a history of sexual misconduct involving young boys and of the potential danger to (the plaintiff),” the lawsuit says.

“Despite knowing this, it failed to take steps to ensure (he) and other children were protected from harm.”

The Catholic church “failed to provide any warning to those who were at risk or to the local police,” the claim states.

“As a result of the actions and/or inactions of the Catholic church, the plaintiff has suffered damages.”

The abuse occurred both at the churches and at a cabin Whyte had near Radium Hot Springs, where the plaintiff was taken in late winter, or early spring in 1974, or 1975.

“Father Whyte violated his position of authority and trust by engaging (the plaintiff) in inappropriate sexual activities when (he) was attending church on Sundays to perform his duties as an altar boy and catechism,” it states.

Whyte would fondle the boy and force him to touch the priest.

There was also an incident in which other priests were involved, the claim alleges.

“Following the incident in the cabin, (the plaintiff) was the victim of abuse at the hands of Father Whyte in a rectory in Calgary, which took place in 1976.

The years of abuse caused the man a lifetime of suffering, which includes “an impaired ability to trust authority figures,” “an impaired ability to trust men,” and “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The lawsuit seeks general damages for pain and suffering of $750,000.

It also seeks special damages as a result of the plaintiff’s inability to “perform to his full potential” and for ongoing therapy and mental health treatment, aggravated damages of $250,000 and punitive damages of $1-million.

Statements of defence from the church and the estate of the deceased disputing the unproven allegations haven’t been filed.

kevin.martin@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

2 Responses to Man suing Catholic church over alleged abuse by priest

  1. Sylvia says:

    To the victim who filed the suit, I wish you well.

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