Friday, May 25, 2018 9:07:00 EDT AM
The legal saga of a now dead, predatory pedophile priest who victimized a young Sudbury student more than 50 years ago is not quite over.
In a release posted to its website, the Basilian Fathers said they are appealing certain aspects of a judgment in favour of the student, Rod MacLeod, issued just last month.
The order, which employed Father William Hodgson Marshall, said it will challenge the punitive and the economic loss damages awarded to MacLeod, who now lives in Toronto.
“It is believed that those two awards are not legally sound or justified,” the statement said. “The Basilian Fathers are not appealing the awards for general and aggravated damages, nor for the amount awarded for counselling costs. Those amounts will be paid to Mr. MacLeod shortly.”
A Toronto civil jury awarded $2.5 in damages to MacLeod, which is believed to be the largest civil award in Canada given to a victim of priest abuse.
The Basilian Fathers are appealing the $500,000 awarded in punitive damages and $1.58 million in lost income.
The jury also awarded $350,000 in general damages and $75,000 in aggravated damages, which the Basilians are not challenging.
MacLeod was a student at St. Charles College high school in Sudbury from 1963-1967. At the time, St. Charles was an all-boys school.
Marshall was a Basilian priest when he abused the young MacLeod, one of his many victims. In 2011, Marshall was convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38-year career, including in Sudbury, Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie. He was given a two-year sentence for his crimes.
Marshall at one point was principal at St. Charles, which the Basilians ran at the time. He was later defrocked as a priest, after the sexual abuse surfaced. He died in 2014.
Evidence at Marshall’s criminal trial detailed how he abused children — the youngest was seven years old — in his office, in school showers, in dormitories and the church rectory. Victims told of other priests walking in on the assaults, but never reporting what they saw.
He was given the nickname “Happy Hands Marshall” in the 1950s for his tendency to touch students.
MacLeod said in April he never fully overcame the psychological damage Marshall caused. “The problem was I was came from a very strong Catholic family and was taught the priest could do no wrong,” MacLeod told Postmedia.
Throughout his life, the emotional and psychological pain from the abuse “bubbles up inside me,” he said.
MacLeod said he abruptly left what would have been a successful career in the military. He had a strong career in the construction business but never felt worthy.
“That’s been the story of my life. I have great success and then it just falls apart because of this energy inside that says, ‘Look, you are not worth anything,'” he said.
In their statement this week, the Basilian Fathers said they have “accepted full responsibility for the actions of Hodgson Marshall, and continue to be committed to providing support to the victims of abuse, as well as ensuring that policies and protocols are in place that support the eradication of sexual abuse.
“As Mr. MacLeod made his circumstances known throughout the course of his lawsuit, the Basilian Fathers focused on efforts to fairly compensate Mr. MacLeod. They think the appellate court can best make a final determination of this compensation.”
The Basilians are a Roman Catholic religious order of priests who operate on three continents, with their headquarters in Toronto.
Lawyers for MacLeod said the decision to appeal shows the Basilians are “unapologetic and unrepentant.
“Now 27 days (after the ruling), and only a few days short of their appeal deadline, the Basilians opted for more litigation instead of reconciliation against the 68-year-old man who as a youth was sexually abused by one of their own,” Rob Talach, of Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers, said in a release.
“Shockingly, it was disclosed in the trial that the Basilians had in fact received at least three complaints of sexual misconduct by Father Marshall before he was assigned to St. Charles College and another three afterwards.”
Talach, who represented McLeod, has handled a number of other cases in which Sudbury men were sexually abused by priests when they were boys.
In the same statement, MacLeod also expressed anger over the appeal.
“Once again the Basilians have shown their true colours,” MacLeod said. “When faced with a judgment carefully considered by six citizens of the community do they say mea culpa and ask for forgiveness for their sins? No, they act like a corporate entity and appeal the decision.
“But they according to their own words are supposed to have a higher calling then just being a profit centre. Because of their higher calling they pay no taxes. When ‘higher calling’ organizations act like profit centres they should lose their tax exempt status and be treated like any other corporation.”
Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers said last month the punitive damages awarded to MacLeod are a rare and exceptional device only used by the courts “to note reprehensible conduct which offends society’s sense of decency. The goal of punitive damages is to punish, denounce and deter.
“This represents the largest award of punitive damages against the Catholic Church in Canada and is the first time that a jury of average citizens has judged the Church’s handling of sexual abusive priests. It marks a turning point for the Church in Canada who to date have only been required to pay for the damage they caused victims but have never been fined or punished for their institutional conduct and complicity.”
Talach said in MacLeod’s case, the jury spelled why it was awarding punitive damages. They included:
– The “silent shuffle to divert in conjunction with complaints” to avoid scandal.
– Neglected to document offences.
– Put children in harm’s way, something the jury said was “grossly negligent.”
– No reconciliation with victims.
– Betrayal of trust in the community.
The jury heard Marshall was reported six times over his career, but was allowed to continue in his role as a priest and teacher.
The reports of sexual abuse of boys started in 1947, occurred twice in the 1950s, twice in the 1970s and again in 1989 around the time of his retirement from teaching.
“A further report in 1996 was the most disturbing,” Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers said last month. “Father Marshall, then ministering on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, ultimately admitted to his Basilian superiors that he had abused upwards of almost 90 boys over his career.
“The Basilian response was limited with no effort at outreach to the boys, no involvement of police and no publication of the fact that one of their own had left such a wake of devastation across the land.
“The hope is that this outcome will motivate change within the Catholic Church.”
In 2016, a $4.25-million lawsuit filed by another former Sudbury student against Marshall, the Basilian Fathers of Toronto and the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie was settled.
Talach said the matter was settled in the man’s favour, but could not go into details due to a confidentiality condition. The victim was 67 at the time the agreement was reached.
The victim said he was forced to engage in masturbation, fondling and oral sex with Marshall, starting when he was 14.
– with files from Postmedia