Abuse victim worries others will lose heart

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The Halifax Chronicle Herald

January 5, 2012 – 4:36am


Philip Latimer speaks with the media in 2009.  (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

Philip Latimer speaks with the media in 2009. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE / Staff)

Philip Latimer spent Wednesday afternoon digesting what disgraced Roman Catholic Bishop Raymond Lahey’s sentence means for himself and other victims of sexual abuse.

Latimer, 50, alleges he was abused by a Catholic priest while a young boy in Havre Boucher, Antigonish County.

He said he worries that victims of sexual abuse who have not yet come forward will be deterred from doing so by seeing Lahey sentenced to time served plus two years probation and the recent overturning by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal of Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh’s convictions on charges of gross indecency and indecent assault.

“These decisions will make young victims scared to come forward by showing them that if the guilty have enough money to hire a good legal team, they will be protected,” said Latimer. “I don’t call this a justice system. I call it a legal system.”

Latimer went public with allegations of abuse in 2009 after Lahey was caught at the Ottawa airport with hundreds of sexually explicit images on his laptop involving young boys.

He is pursuing a lawsuit against the Diocese of Antigonish, separate from the $15-million settlement of a class action launched by victims of sexual abuse by diocesan priests that was negotiated by Lahey.

“Coming forward has been a double-edged sword for me,” Latimer said. “There has been a lot of pain, but there has also been tremendous change and healing.”

He attributes his healing to the strong support he’s received from family and friends.

Neither the failures of the justice system nor those of individual men in the church will affect his faith, he said.

“I learned years ago that my faith is not based on a church and it isn’t based on a man, it’s based on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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