Priest sex abuse claimant sues Moncton diocese

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Alleged victim of Cap-Pelé priest Camille Léger also suing three archbishops

CBC News

Posted: Jun 29, 2012 6:52 PM AT

Last Updated: Jun 29, 2012 10:25 PM AT

Archbishop André Richard, who recently apologized to any victims of Léger, is one of three defendants named in the lawsuit.

Archbishop André Richard, who recently apologized to any victims of Léger, is one of three defendants named in the lawsuit. (CBC)

A man who alleges he was sexually abused by the late Father Camille Léger in the 1970s is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton as well as three archbishops.

The man, who has asked the court not to release his identity, claims he was molested by the Cap-Pelé priest “on a regular and repeated basis” for five years, between the ages of 11 and 16.

He was an altar boy and member of the Ste-Thérèse-d’Avila parish during the period in question, according to his statement of claim, filed with the Court of Queens Bench in Moncton on Friday.

The man, now middle-aged and living in Saint John, claims he still suffers physical, emotional and mental pain and suicidal thoughts from the abuse he suffered.

He is seeking financial compensation and a court order that the archdiocese turn over to police any information regarding other allegations of sexual misconduct by priests.

The lawsuit names three archbishops as defendants:

  • Ernest Léger, who was the archbishop in 1997 when the church received a report of Léger’s inappropriate actions with another child.
  • Valéry Vienneau, the current archbishop, who was involved in negotiating a settlement in that case
  • André Richard, who, until recently was in charge of the diocese for 10 years and allegedly did little to address Leger’s conduct

Diocese responds

The plaintiff's lawyer, Robert Talach, has said the church's conciliation process allows the abuse the remain shrouded in secrecy.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Robert Talach, has said the church’s conciliation process allows the abuse the remain shrouded in secrecy. (CBC)

Archdiocese officials could not be reached Friday for comment.

But in a written statement, archdiocese spokesman Donald Langis confirmed receipt of the lawsuit.

“The independent mediation process designed by the Honorable Michel Bastarache was designed specifically to deal with claims such as this in an atmosphere of conciliation with fair offers of compensation and without the need to pay lawyers,” Langis said.

“While it is the right of people to use the court system if they wish to do so, the archdiocese does hope that victims will avail themselves of the conciliation process, which is still open to them.”

Earlier this month, the archdiocese announced it had hired Bastarache, a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice, to set up and manage a conciliation process for people who were victims of sexual abuse by Léger.

Compensation between $15,000 to $300,000 will be given out, Bastarache said.

Victims have until the end of the month to contact Bastarache.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Robert Talach, has argued the process only keeps the abuse shrouded in secrecy.

Numerous allegations

Léger died in 1990 and was never convicted of any crimes. He was a priest in Cap-Pelé from 1957 to 1980.

Several people in the small, southeastern New Brunswick village have come forward recently to talk about being abused by Léger.

The debate started when the village council announced it would hold a referendum on whether to remove the former priest’s name from the local hockey arena.

There was an immediate groundswell of support around the idea of removing Léger’s name from the arena. The Cap-Pelé council had the sign removed and cancelled the plebiscite.

In March, Archbishop André Richard apologized to anyone who was abused by Léger. But he did not mention how the church had already compensated at least one individual for abuse.

Normand Brun, who now lives in Vancouver, said he was abused by Léger.

He said the abuse started when he was nine years old and it went on for four years.

Brun took his complaint to the Catholic Church in 1997 and received financial compensation. He is unable to discuss how much money he received due to legal reasons.

3 Responses to Priest sex abuse claimant sues Moncton diocese

  1. Sylvia says:

    Whoever you are, I commend the victim who is launching this suit.  Good for you!

    It is good to see all three bishops named as defendants.

    And, look at this:

    He is seeking financial compensation and a court order that the
    archdiocese turn over to police any information regarding other
    allegations of sexual misconduct by priests. (emphasis added)

    Way to go!  This is exactly what needs to be done.  No more secreting files.  Turn the files over to police.  That’s good for a start. If there are any priests on the list who are still alive, let law enforcement officers get to work. If there is proof of obstruction of justice, let law enforcement officers sort it out.

    Well done, whoever you are.  Well done!

    Note the quote from diocesan spokesman Donald Langis:

    “The independent mediation process designed by the Honorable Michel Bastarache
    was designed specifically to deal with claims such as this in an
    atmosphere of conciliation with fair offers of compensation and without
    the need to pay lawyers,” Langis said.

    “While it is the right of people to use the court system if they wish
    to do so, the archdiocese does hope that victims will avail themselves
    of the conciliation process, which is still open to them.”

    No, no, no, Mr, Langis.  Unless things have changed since the Bastarache/Bathurst conciliation deal, the Bastarche/Mocnton Diocese conciliation deal was NOT designed to deal with claims such as this at all. 

    Will the diocesan deal hold those bishops, if any there may be, accountable for allowing Father Leger to continue molesting, and/or for covering-up on his behalf? I don’t think so.  I’d like to be proven wrong, but I don’t for a moment believe it will

    Will the diocesan deal turn over any files to police, including those of suspect predators who, wherever they be, are still very much alive? I don’t think so.  Again, I’d like to be proven wrong, but I honestly don’t for a moment think that Mr. Bastarache or anyone else on the diocesan/Bastarche team will turn any files over to the police.

    As for offering “fair” compensation “without the need to pay lawyers,”  is Mr. Bastarache not compensated?  Is he not a lawyer?

    The last we heard of Mr. Bastarchae’s compensation for orchestrating the Bastarache/Bathurst deal was that it was so top secret it has been sealed.  But, he was compensated. And, he is a lawyer. 

    How exactly he is compensated we may never know.  He could for example be paid a flat fee/victim by the Archdiocese. 

    He could, I suppose, be paid an hourly fee by the diocese with a fee/victim on top.

    He could be paid a retainer to cover the work he has put into the developing his payment grid, and then perhaps a fee/victim on top of the retainer, and a little something extra to cover dealing with media?

    I suppose there is also the possibility that he is paid a percentage of monies he pays the victims, but perhaps the archdiocese wouldn’t like that because that would mean the more he gets for a victim the more he gets for himself?

    Bottom line is that the monies comes from diocesan coffers and/or insurance – precisely the same place the dollars come from to pay the legal fees of layers who sue on a victim’s behalf.

    Does anyone have any other ideas as to how Mr. Bastarche earns his keep when he orchestrates one of these deals ?

  2. Mike says:

         This whole stinking deal reminds me of an insurance company’s wish, through its legal staff, to get victims of personal injury claims from a car accident to take a small settlement and sign off as quickly as possible to get the insurance company “off the hook”.
         Mr. Langis needs this so “no need to pay lawyers”!!!!
        Like Sylvia says, and I have said repeatedly, the “honorable” retired justice is just that! He is a LAWYER, retained by the archdiocese (not cheaply, I assume) to very quickly, and to the archdiocese best interests, settle any abuse claims. That having been said, it is also to be acknowledged that he will not conciliate in the best interests of the victims.
         I wonder what the retired justice would cost you or me? Does anyone think they can afford him?     Mike

  3. Mike says:

    Oh yes, I forgot one other little thing!
        The entire mess is “shrouded in secrecy” if a victim accepts this concilliation process. We would never know the name of the human flotsam that abused these poor victims. We would also never know if this human flotsam were appointed to new parishes, and were continuing in their old habits.
         Is this the “fair and just” process the retired “honorable” justice believes in? OMG.  Mike.

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