The Redemptorist Order of Catholic Priests will pay $20 million to victims of sexual abuse at its St-Alphonse Seminary near Quebec City during the 1970s and '80s.
Robert Kugler, the lawyer representing former students at the seminary, said the landmark out-of-court settlement is the largest ever paid in a class-action sexual abuse lawsuit in Quebec.
In July, Superior Court Judge Claude Bouchard ordered the Redemptorist Order, the St-Alphonse Seminary and Rev. Raymond-Marie Lavoie to pay at least $75,000 to each of the lawsuit's 70 claimants.
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The main claimant, Frank Tremblay, has spoken publicly about the abuse he suffered as a student at Séminaire Saint-Alphonse.
"I talked with a lot of the men yesterday and this morning. Some are happy, some are anxious, and some don’t know what will happen," Tremblay told CBC's Breakaway.
Tremblay launched the class-action lawsuit in 2010 against a former teacher at the seminary.
"It was the first time I came back to that period of my life. It put me in a nightmare. It was really difficult," said Tremblay.
Tremblay said one of the most important aspects of his victory is that other claimants will not have to fight statutes of limitations, even though some of the abuses took place more than 30 years ago.
"The statutes of limitations are over for the Redemptorists, so it is a great, great victory for me," said Tremblay.
"I won for all those men and I’m really proud of that," he said.
Other victims have since come forward, bringing the number of total claimants to more than 100 — and counting.
“That number is likely to go up by a lot… We have tried to simplify the process to ensure that a maximum number of victims present claims,” Kugler told Radio-Canada.
Lawyers representing the men who attended the private boarding school in Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré as teenagers alleged there was systemic abuse and a cover-up at the school during the '70s and '80s.
Serge Létourneau, a lawyer in the case, said two of the alleged abusers were once principals at the school and also sat on the provincial executive committee of the Redemptorist Order.
In 2011, Lavoie pleaded guilty to sexually abusing 13 children and is serving a five-year sentence.