Bathurst diocese to offer victims financial settlements

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The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton, New Brunswick)

Published Wednesday November 3rd, 2010

By Adam Huras Canadaeast News Service

MONCTON – The Bathurst diocese has agreed to offer financial settlements and formal apologies to 35 sexual assault victims of disgraced priest Levi Noel and several other Catholic clergy.

In a statement released Tuesday, vicar general for the Diocese of Bathurst Father Wesley Wade said that on the recommendation of former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache, the diocese will also continue to allow new victims to come forward until Dec. 1.

The diocese has also extended the application process to come to terms with 10 other victims who were dissatisfied with the process and decided to forgo Bastarache’s recommendations, likely to seek compensation through the courts.

“Mr. Bastarache has identified over 35 claimants who merit compensation as well as apologies for abuse suffered by them,” Wade said. “Clerics identified by the victims include Levi Noel and Charles Picot, as well as a few others who are either dead or no longer in ministry within the diocese.”

Noel, a retired northern New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest, pleaded guilty in October 2009 to 22 sex-related charges involving 18 boys stemming as far back as the 1950s.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Picot was found guilty in 1993 of two counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault. He was sentenced to seven months in jail.

He was employed in parishes in Dalhousie, Bathurst and Campbellton.

“The diocese appreciates the difficult task of the victims themselves in coming forward with their wounds and sufferings and looks forward to the opportunity to apologize to them formally, and provide them compensation in accordance with Mr. Bastarache’s recommendations,” Wade said.

In August 2009, the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia settled a class-action lawsuit over abuse claims, with $13 million set aside for the victims of Hugh Vincent MacDonald.

He was facing 27 charges involving 18 children when he died in 2004.

The Bathurst diocese didn’t disclose the cost of compensation to the 35 victims, instead saying that it will provide additional information when the process is complete.

The diocese also defended its practices to curb sexual abuse.

“While regretting any abusive circumstance, the diocese is encouraged to learn that most of the reported cases occurred many years ago,” Wade said. “Hopefully, the lack of recent cases can be attributed to greater societal awareness of the problem of abuse of any kind.

“By establishing new policies for all members of the clergy, all diocesan and parish employees and volunteers, the diocese hopes that these efforts will ensure a healthy and secure environment for all children and vulnerable people.”

Both the diocese and Bastarache declined further comment Tuesday.

Bastarache was tasked in April with preparing a compensation package for the victims.

Two victims who stepped forward to be a part of the diocese conciliation process, but later declined to participate, told Canadaeast News Service that there needs to be a complete overhaul of Catholic Church practices, which they allege still present the potential for the sexual abuse of children to remain hidden.

Lowell Mallais and Conrad Brideau said financial compensation doesn’t ensure abuse will never happen again.

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Bathurst diocese offers apologies, money to victims

Compensation: Church officials agree with recommendations made by former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache

Telegraph-Journal (Saint John, New Brunswick)

03 November 2010

ADAM HURAS
TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL

The Roman Catholic diocese of Bathurst has agreed to offer financial settlements and formal apologies to 35 sexual assault victims of disgraced priest Lévi Noël and several other Catholic clergy.

In a statement released on Tuesday, father Wesley Wade, vicar general for the diocese, said that on the recommendation of former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache, the diocese will also continue to allow new victims to come forward until Dec. 1.

The diocese has also extended the application process to come to terms with 10 other victims who were dissatisfied with the process and decided to forgo Bastarache’s recommendations, likely to seek compensation through the courts.

“Mr. Bastarache has identified over 35 claimants who merit compensation as well as apologies for abuse suffered by them,” Wade said. “Clerics identified by the victims include Lévi Noël and Charles Picot, as well as a few others who are either dead or no longer in ministry within the diocese.”

The diocese did not disclose the cost of compensation to the 35 victims, instead saying that it will provide additional information when the process is complete. The diocese also defended its current practices in curbing sexual abuse.

“While regretting any abusive circumstance, the diocese is encouraged to learn that most of the reported cases occurred many years ago,” Wade said. “Hopefully, the lack of recent cases can be attributed to greater societal awareness of the problem of abuse of any kind.

“By establishing new policies for all members of the clergy, all diocesan and parish employees and volunteers, the diocese hopes that these efforts will ensure a healthy and secure environment for all children and vulnerable people.”

Both the diocese and Bastarache declined any further comment on Tuesday.

Noël, a retired northern New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest, pleaded guilty last October to 22 sex-related charges involving 18 boys stemming as far back as the 1950s.

He was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Picot was found guilty in 1993 of two counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault. He was sentenced to seven months in jail.

He was employed in parishes including Dalhousie, Bathurst and Campbellton.

“The diocese appreciates the difficult task of the victims themselves in coming forward with their wounds and sufferings and looks forward to the opportunity to apologize to them formally, and provide them compensation in accordance with Mr. Bastarache’s recommendations,” Wade said.

In August 2009, the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia settled a class-action lawsuit over abuse claims with $13 million set aside for the victims of Hugh Vincent MacDonald.

He was facing 27 charges involving 18 children when he died in 2004.

Bastarache, now an Ottawa-based lawyer, was tasked in April with preparing a compensation package for the victims.

Two victims who stepped forward to be a part of the diocese conciliation process, but then later declined to participate told the Telegraph-Journal that there needs to be a complete a overhaul of Catholic Church practices which they allege still present the potential for the sexual abuse of children to remain hidden.

Lowell Mallais and Conrad Brideau said Monday that financial compensation does not ensure that such abuse will never happen again.

Their lawyer Robert Talach, who is based in London, Ont., said several of his clients have lost confidence in the church.

“When you’re talking about victims of sexual abuse where there’s an authority figure and an institutional element … there just isn’t that level of trust,” Talach said. “We have to put the spotlight of scrutiny on what happened here.”

 

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Comments

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Isn’t it odd when these stories crop up – all of the wishes, prayers and miracles are suddenly invisible? 

Thereis Nogod, Saint John on 03/11/10 12:22:37 PM ADT

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Isn’t it odd when these stories crop up – Thereis Nogod shows up to spread more negativity. 

B Hanley, Calgary on 03/11/10 03:27:49 PM ADT

 

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