Court to award sexual abuse compensation

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$3.7 million of Catholic trust funds will be available to victims of sexual abuse by priests within Diocese of Bathurst

 Moncton Times & Transcript

Published Wednesday December 1st, 2010  




BATHURST – A judge in Miramichi has ruled that the Diocese of Bathurst can use 21 trust funds intended to train future members of the Roman Catholic priesthood in order to compensate victims of sexual abuse.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Fred Ferguson released his decision on Monday that a major portion of the church’s trusts, which are valued at about $4.3-million, can be allocated to the 35 people who have come forward claiming abuse at the hands of priests.

The ruling states that $1.5 million of the trust funds be retained by the church for the initial intended purpose.

Nine of the 35 people who came forward have said they will decline the compensation and opt to take the diocese to court instead.

Former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache was asked by the diocese in April to review cases of abuse and offer fair compensation.

Father Wesley Wade, in a statement released this week, says that the diocese is confident that Bastarache will have the necessary funds in hand within the next few days, allowing the compensation process to play out in a timely and effective manner.

Wade notes that compensation is only a part of the reconciliation process, which he says will also include formal apologies to all of the victims.

The diocese has set a deadline of today for victims to come forward with their claims of abuse.

Two of the disgraced priests identified by victims as abusers are Levi Noel and Charles Picot, along with a handful of other clerics who have either died or are no longer active within the ministry.

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.

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