Family whose children were sexually assaulted by a priest wins lawsuit against priest, church and school over 30 years later

A family experienced serious hardship after 4 of their children were sexually assaulted by a priest they trusted. The family were devout Catholics and believed priests were God’s chosen people.

Grooming and Sexual Assault

In the early summer of 1969, the parents sent all three of their boys to a summer camp sponsored by St. Mary’s School. The boys aged ten, eight, and six at the time took a liking to one of the priests they met at camp. After summer camp the priest stayed in contact with the boys and their parents and began to take on a big brother role. He would take the kids to the movies and on fishing and camping trips. He soon took on a parent-like role for the kids. Between 1969 and 1974 the priest introduced the boys to tobacco, alcohol, and various forms of improper sexual behavior. The boys would often stay overnight with the priest and during those nights he would engage in inappropriate sexual activity with the boys such as body oiling and painting, masturbation, genital fondling, and oral sex. Their younger sister witnessed some of the abuse and was sexually assaulted by one of her older brothers. The eldest sister eventually found out about the abuse and reported it to the police in 1974 and the priest was arrested and charged and found guilty of gross indecency. The Diocese removed the priest from his position and temporarily placed him in a London parish before sending him to treatment.

The Effects on Victims

All three boys in their teen years turned to drugs as a coping mechanism they even started prostituting themselves for drugs and money. The boys also had many sexual relationships with women and men and could not hold stable relationships. All the boys married but the relationships ended in divorce shortly after. 

Sexual Assault Lawsuit

In 2004 the family brought a lawsuit against the priest, the church, and the school for the damage and loss they experienced. The trial judge ruled that the priest had breached his fiduciary to both the parents and their children. The church and school were found negligent and vicariously liable for the abuse the boys experienced. The judge found them negligent as they were willfully blind to the fact that the priest had children stay in his apartment overnight and that he entertained children in his room alone. They also made no effort to enquire about concerns that other children raised. Furthermore, they treated the topic of sex as taboo and had no education or counseling on sexual matters, and left inappropriate and unusual behavior unchecked. The judge also found the church vicariously liable as his position as a priest allowed him to be alone with young boys allowing him to carry out his predation. His position also put him in a position of power over the children leaving the children vulnerable to the abuse of his power. 

The Verdict

The priest, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the Diocese of London in Ontario, the Roman Catholic Church, and the London District Catholic School Board were all held liable for the abuse and ordered to jointly pay for the damages awarded to the family. In total, the family was awarded $1,392,415. 

If you have been sexually assaulted by a religious leader contact our personal injury lawyers at Equilibrium law. We offer a free initial consultation and can help you discover your legal options.



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