Former Supreme Court justice testifies in the civil suit involving Diocese of Bathurst
By Jennifer Choi, CBC News Posted: Dec 03, 2015 7:30 PM ATLast Updated: Dec 03, 2015 8:38 PM AT
Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Michel Bastarache was hired by the Diocese of Bathurst to oversee compensation of sexual assault victims.
Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Michel Bastarache was hired by the Diocese of Bathurst to oversee compensation of sexual assault victims. (CBC)
A former Supreme Court justice testified today in a lawsuit between the Diocese of Bathurst and its insurance company.
Michel Bastarache took the stand and described how victims told him how they were sexually abused by Catholic priests in the diocese dating back to the 1950’s.
“Eighty per cent of people told me I was the first person they told,” said Bastarache in a Moncton courtroom. “About half of those people told me I’d be the last.”
Bastarache was in charge of a confidential conciliation or compensation process for victims of molestation by priests in the Bathurst diocese.
He was hired in 2010 by Bathurst’s bishop at the time, Valery Vienneau, who is now the Archbishop of Moncton.
“At that time I thought it would be 30 people and only two priests involved, but I interviewed 90 people,” said Bastarache.
The victims reported sexual abuse by a total of 26 priests in the diocese.
The former judge testified in the civil lawsuit between the Bathurst diocese and the Aviva Insurance company. The church is suing Aviva for more than $7 million, the amount of money it paid out to victims of sexual abuse.
Aviva argues it has no obligation to pay that money to the church because the company says the church knew children and teens were being molested by priests for decades and did nothing about it.
Three victims told Bastarache at some point they’d reported abuses to a bishop, and two or three others told him they’d reported abuses during confession.
Moncton Archbishop Valéry Vienneau originally hired Michel Bastarache in previous role as the bishop of the Bathurst diocese. (Kate Letterick/CBC)
Emotional reports by victims
Bastarache told the court victims were emotional when telling him their stories of abuse.
“Suddenly they’d break out crying, I’d have to stop and come back and ask the same question three or four times,” said Bastarache.
“Some were mad … some were desperate,” he said with emotion to the court, “Some angry.”
To ensure anonymity, Bastarache said he is the only one who knows the names of the victims who received compensation, and the victims are only identified to the diocese by a number.
Compensation formula developed
Bastarache explained to the court he came up with a compensation formula based on a lot of research.
“I read all the cases I could find dealing with sexual assault and tried to identify the kind of abuse and the compensation,’ he said.
He interviewed each victim that came forward, and he would cross-reference their claims of abuse. Bastarache then determined how much each person would receive based on the nature of assault, age, and number of incidents.
Bastarache told the court he is “convinced” the compensation process was fair to the victims and to the diocese.
“I thought he [Vienneau] was very courageous,” he said, referring to the compensation process. Bastarache said Vienneau went ahead with the process despite pushback from parishioners who didn’t want money they helped raise go towards paying out victims of abuse.
Bathurst Catholic diocese in court over abuse compensation
Case relates to retired priest Levi Noel who was convicted of 22 sex-related offences in 2010
Posted: Dec 02, 2015 6:49 PM ATLast Updated: Dec 02, 2015 6:49 PM AT
By Ian Bonnell
Day two of the trial involving the Bathurst Catholic diocese and its insurance company got underway in Moncton on Wednesday.
A lawsuit was filed by the Diocese of Bathurst against Aviva Insurance over compensation for abuse victims.
The church believes its insurance should cover the payouts.
Aviva Insurance defense lawyer Charles LeBlond says the issue is what the diocese knew and when. (Ian Bonnell/CBC)
On Wednesday, Archbishop Valery Vienneau took the stand before judge Stephan McNally.
Most of the questioning by Aviva defense lawyer Charles LeBlond revolved around retired priest Levi Noel.
Noel spent 30 years in the Diocese of Bathurst and was sentenced in 2010 to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to 22 sex-related offences.The victims were boys between the ages of eight and 16 at the time of the abuse.
LeBlond referred to correspondence between Vienneau, Noel and many other members of the Roman Catholic church dating back to the early sixties.
The letters and notes demonstrated a clear pattern of abuse allegations in the areas Noel worked, followed by his subsequent transfer from over a half-dozen communities.
Many letters revealed deep concern over Noel’s conduct.
Speaking to reporters outside of court, Leblond said the issue is what the diocese knew, “and by diocese, I mean the archbishops of the day as they progressed through the years, and when notice of potential claims should have been provided.”
Leblond says there are time limitations on these types of claims.
The trial is expected to continue into next week.
I am more puzzled now than ever.
Do you remember way back in the fall of 2010 Bishop Vienneau initiated the process to rob the seminary fund to pay the Michel Bastarche ‘conciliation’ process victims ? and remember that the judge gave a judicial nod, and the records were all sealed, and out went the monies from the seminary fund? $3M was sprung.
Does this mean that perhaps back in 2010 there was a battle brewing with the insuring agents, and the only way to save face and pay the victims was to raid the seminary account?
What a circus!
It would be nice of the presiding judge in this circus would order the diocese to name the 26 molesters, would it not? Alas, as you know, to this point the names of the majority of Bathurst Diocese’s clerical molesters is every bit as secret as the court files which gave Vianneau the nod to raid the fund. SHHhhhhh! Heaven forbid Catholics be told the identities of the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the ones who raped the tender young souls of so many of the trusting flock.
And, oh yes, Heaven forbid a soul know how much Michel Bastacrache was compensated for his ‘work’ with victims. That too is top secret.
Remember too, for what it’s worth, that after he was elevated to Archbishop and relocated to the Archdiocese of Moncton Archbishop Vienneau set up another conciliation prcocess wtih Michel Bastarache at the helm? became Archbishop of Moncton.
Anyway, it looks as though this trial is going to be continuing for another few days. If anyone is attending and can pass on news from inside the courtroom, please keep us informed.
“Michel Bastarache took the stand and described how victims told him how they were sexually abused by Catholic priests in the diocese dating back to the 1950’s.”
Hummm!?….Could that be considered a lie or simply memory failure? An oversight or a conscious effort to minimize the extent of the problem?…:”dating back to the 1950’s”.
Of the cases reported to Bastarache, summer 1931 should certainly stick to his mind, if the job was taken seriously !!
That date in 1931 is when my Father was first abused by Leon Gagnon whose name is listed on this site under “accused”.
The level of respect I have for Bastarache seems to evolve every time I see his name in print. This will certainly not be the exception…
They may want to forget but I said I wouldn’t, and I won’t forget!
jg, have you seen “Spotlight” the movie yet? It’s just received Time magazines top movie of 2015. I’m hoping that it educates more of the general public as to the depths of this issue. From what I’ve read about the Bastarche fiasco from here on Sylvia’s site, there is a real unwillingness for officials in the Canadian Catholic church to be in anyways transparent. If not for the tireless commitment to this cause that Sylvia shows here on this website, we’d all be still in the dark.
No, I haven’t seen the movie “Spotlight” yet but I suspect it will fall short of the reality of the abuse endured by so many. Even with the best of intentions I don’t think any movie can translate adequately the anguish, the horror,the fear, the sorrow,….I could go on and on with the description, as you well know, and never cover a single lifetime of those who have been crippled by this Spiritual treason…
The Valery Vienneau and Michel Bastarache process was not transparent as it claimed. I see it as hypocritical, self-serving and aimed at protecting the church first and foremost. They bought some time by shutting-up the victims until the grave! The money they paid out is peanuts and they are already planning payback by insurance or the blind faithful… They have already collected as much, 7 million, in a very short time to refurbish the Moncton cathedral. No one has complained about that and there is no complaint that it will cost too much.
The church’s stones are more important than the Souls and the Peace of its members.
It is a long walk in the desert.
You are right about this site and Sylvia. Her dedication and perseverance is an oasis in this emptiness of “the Church”.
Now that I,ve moved to the Moncton area…………I’ve missed Bastarache testimonial, but got Vieeneau’s on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday …….Friday we heard an expertise on the language of insurance policies……..As for Basrarache report 26 priest……..that is a lot! But he stop short of saying how many are still living……….we the victims know of 5 of them are still living, that,s plus Noel and Picot!
All I can say for now is, as my lawyer said, back then, “Vienneau is a small man with a lot of money”!
And yes I’ve seen the movie spotlight…………..and yes I cried half of the movie!
Thanks for the update Baspuits.
Yes, 26 clerical known molesters in that one diocese is a lot. When will the names be released so that everyone knows who these wolves in sheep’s clothing were/are? You say you know of five who are still alive? Amazing and disgusting. They are out and about somewhere and not a soul knows who they are, or where they are, or that children are at risk. Regarding the latter, I personally do not buy into the excuse that these predators are no longer a threat to children because of their age.
I have just posted CBC’s coverage of yesterday’s testimony: 07 December 2015: Insurance company says Bathurst diocese knew of abuse by priests
Lorque je vois tout ce cirque, ça me donne le courage de continuer. Je veux aller jusqu’au bout. J’ai besoin de tout l’énergie possible pour se faire. Où ils vont prendre l’argent, n’est pas quelque chose qui n’importe. Je veux qu’il y ait juriste prudence. Ce n’est pas vrai qu’ils vont tout passer sous silence. Il n’y a pas de juriste prudence concernant les prêtres. Il est temps qu’il y en ait. Je n’ai rien demandé, à personne, pas même d’être abusé.
Yesterday in court………….the diocese lawyer tried ( in vane) to sweep the testimoni of Aviva employees into a small crack in the floor………. She was doing fine until he ask her do you say that the diocese deliberately done wrong? She said no, and should of said yes, because of the bishop’s silence, for which that silence endangered more children/victims……..
To be continued…..
This should be posted as the most Beautifull xmas song ever made, for victims of abuse, anywhere in the world:
Today’s court lasted 5 minute……..no more witness ….final arguments tomorrow morning
This morning, we heard the lawyer for the diosese …………I guess in short : If it waddle and quack, it is not nessarely a duck!
Afternoon insurance lawyer……….