In 1963 an 11-year-old boy was training to be an altar boy. During his training, a new priest was assigned to take over the training of the altar boys. The priest befriended the boy and spent time with him and his mother regularly. During this time the priest invited the boy to go on a trip with him to Montreal to visit the Basilica of Notre Dame. It was during this trip that the boy’s life changed forever. The priest had arranged for the two of them to spend the night in a motel room. When they got there the boy discovered that there was only one bed and that he and the priest would be sharing the bed. That night the priest performed oral sex on the boy and fondled him sexually. As a Catholic, the boy had been taught that priests were a representation of God and had to be obeyed and respected therefore, he believed the assault he suffered was his fault and that he would be damned to hell. At the time he did not tell anyone about the assault. The assault led to family difficulties and the boy turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism.
In 2014 the man initiated a lawsuit against the priest but he discovered that the priest had died and therefore could not be held accountable. However, he decided to sue the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Toronto, in Canada. For years the church denied liability but on the first day of trial in 2019, they admitted liability. They were vicariously liable as they had allowed the priest to take children on trips which allowed a situation in which an abuse of power could and did occur. The jury awarded the man, $250,000 for general and aggravated damages, $280,000 for loss of income, and $15,000 in punitive damages. Since the priest had died the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Toronto, in Canada was responsible for paying the entirety of the award granted in the lawsuit.
If you have been sexually assaulted by a religious leader contact our lawyers at Equilibrium law. It’s never too late to receive compensation for the damage you experienced from a sexual assault.