I’d give my eye teeth to be there

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First I want to ask those in the Vancouver area to mark your calendars for Friday  06 September 2013, and then to draw attention to and comment on the following document posted Friday past:

08 August 2013:   Notice of Application (to Lawrence Cooper a.k.a. Father Damian Lawrence Cooper,  and to the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and to their Solicitors)  (this is a request for documents)  (this is a request for documents, including those in the Secret Archives of the Archdiocese of Vancouver)

This lawsuit against Father Damian Cooper and the Archbishop of Archdiocese of Vancouver, British Columbia (i.e., the archdiocese) was launched December 2012 alleging sex abuse of a teenage girl in the late 80s and early 90s by Father Damian Cooper.

A trial date has been set for 29 September 2014.  Yes, that is 2014, not this year, but, 2014, a year away.  It will be trial by judge; no jury.

By way of explanation, the above Notice of Application is an attempt by the Plaintiff (Kathleen Isabel Taylor) to (i) obtain unredacted copies of a number of documents;and (ii) obtain from the archdiocese a number of other documents related to Father Damian Cooper.

As those who have embarked upon or finished the process probably know, this is part of the legal haggling which routinely goes on during a lawsuit.   In lawsuits related to clerical sexual predators there is often – if not always? –  a battle to get a diocese (usually named as a defendant) to release documents to a plaintiff (usually a victim) .  Often the disclosure battles can be resolved between lawyers for the parties involved.  When that doesn’t happen, the battle for disclosure is taken to a judge for resolution.

That’s what’s happening here.  The lawyer for the plaintiff (Kathleen Isabel Taylor)  is going before  a judge asking that the judge order the Vancouver Arcdiocese to comply and produce all those documents requested which it, the archdiocese, has in its possess.  Each side will argue its case:  the plaintiff’s lawyer arguing why it believes those documents are there and why they should be disclosed, and the archdiocese’s lawyer arguing, for example,  that it doesn’t have certain documents, and/or that it is not legally bound to disclose some documents.

Here is a list of the documents which the plaintiff is seeking:

(a)  all documents pertaining to the Defendant Cooper kept by the Archbishop in the Secret Archives of the Archdiocese, as required by Canon Law;

(b)  Father Cooper’s personnel file;

(c)  Any reports of assessments or testing prepared with respect to Father  Cooper regarding his ordination or subsequently;

(d)  Any training or educational records regarding Father Cooper, generally and specifically in relation to counselling;

(e)  Any evaluations done of Father Cooper at any time;

(f)  Any job descriptions or policies regarding any role occupied by FatherCooper in the Archdiocese;

(g)  Any references to Father Cooper or the Plaintiff in Archbishop Carneys appointment books, or records of meetings with others about Father Cooper;

(h)  Any correspondence with any other dioceses about Father Cooper,and in particular any communications with the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Rockville Center and the Archdiocese of Portland about Father Cooper;

(i)  Any reports made to any one in the Catholic Church about allegations of impropriety by Father Cooper;

(j)  Records of any canonical investigation of Fathe rCooper;and

(k)  Any communications regarding the laicization of Father Cooper;and

(1)  A copy of any insurance police under which an insurer may be liable:

a. to satisfy the whole or any part of a judgment granted in the action;

or

b. to indemnity or reimburse any party for any money paid by that party in satisfaction of the while or any part of such judgment.

Note the specific request for  “all documents pertaining to the Defendant Cooper kept by the Archbishop in the Secret Archives of the Archdiocese, as required by Canon Law.”

I honestly would give my eye teeth to be in court to hear the archdiocesan arguments against disclosure.  I urge those who are in the Vancouver area to get to the courthouse  -06 September 2013 to watch this unfold and let us know what happens.  I do hope the local media will be there too to give us a report.

Note too under the header “FACTUAL BASIS” that

(1) Father Damian Cooper does not deny a sexual relationship with the Plaintiff – but says she initiated it and that it didn’t start until she was 18!!

This of course is a stereotypical defense for priests accused of sexual abusing a minor.  It’s a typical legal ploy pulled out of the hat to defend the indefensible in both criminal and civil cases.

(2)  It is alleged that as early as 1987 Father Cooper advised the Claimant that he had been called into the office of the then Archbishop and told to stay away from the girls” while the Archbishop denies any knowledge of sexual exploitation prior to 1994.

One for sure here is that after 1994, when Kathleen dislosed her abuse by Father Cooper to diocesan officials,  Cooper landed South of the border and continued serving as a Roman Catholic priest.   I have record of him serving  in New York state at the following:

– St. Hugh Roman Catholic Church, Huntington Station, NY

– Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst, NY

– St. Brigid’s Church, Long Island, New York

By the mid 2000s Father Damian Cooper was back in Canada, and in 2005 was one of four priests serving as Spiritual Directors for the Fraser Valley Pregnancy Centre ( Page 4 Fraser Valley Pregnancy Centre newsletter – Winter 2005 )

Note too on the Father Damian Cooper page that at some point Father Cooper was back in the Vancouver Archdiocese and serving as a Spiritual Director at the Fraser Valley Pregnancy Centre.

Although Father Cooper has not been listed in the last few directories there is, witness the following,  good reason to believe he is still a priest:

February 2012:  Reference in Feb. 2012 Vancouver Serra Club newsletter to Father Damian Cooper’s 25th anniversary

Please do mark your calendar for 06 September 2013 – start time 09:30 am.

*****

On Thursday I added the name of former Oblate Brother Paul Baynham to the Accused list.

Take a deep breath and read what little information I have on this one!

Unbelievable!

Brother Baynham had left Labrador and was living in the States when a victim came forward alleging abuse by Baynham on Labrador.

Charges were laid in 1990.

BUT, the province of Newfoundland Labarador would not extradite Baynham!  Read this excerpt on the atrocity from the 07 December 2002 Dallas Morning News

Initially, prosecutor Bernard Coffey opposed extradition on the theory that Mr. Baynham would be released on probation if convicted, as an abusive priest recently had been. But that priest might have been sentenced to prison if not for Mr. Coffey’s delays in the case, a court said.

Years later, another prosecutor gave a different reason for not extraditing: The previous decision to leave Mr. Baynham free had violated his right to a speedy trial. Today, assistant director of prosecutions Kathleen Healey says her office still opposes extradition because of speedy-trial and other concerns that she would not divulge.

Ms. Healey said the charges against Mr. Baynham remain alive and that he could be arrested if he returned to Canada. But the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which brought the charges, said the arrest warrant was removed from their database about three years ago for unknown reasons.

And, here comes the  icing on the cake – word that Baynham’s two victims were suing Baynham and the Oblates.  Fair enough and good for them.  BUT, look who was defending Baynham and the Oblates:

His [Baynham’s] attorney in that lawsuit is Mr. Coffey, the former prosecutor who first opposed extradition.

…. Mr. Coffey, who also represents the Oblates, declined to comment

*****

There are three court dates tomorrow, Tuesday, 27 August 2013.  As always I encourage those who are free and within driving distance of any of the hearings to attend.  Please send news and/or links to coverage of the outcome, and please, in the first two instances where there are complainants and allegations of sexual abuse, keep those complainants and their families in your prayers:

(1)  Father Paul-Andre Harvey

27 August 2013:  09:10 am, courtroom 9.5, for preliminary inquiry, Chicoutimi, Quebec courthouse

(2)  Father John E. Sullivan

27 August 2013:  09:30 am, courtroom #101, “to be spoken to,”  North Bay, Ontario court house (360 Plouffe Street)

(3)  Father Robert Couture

27 August 2013:   09:30 am, courtroom #6, “to set a date,”  Windsor, Ontario courthouse

Enough for now,

Sylvia

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