Former students at the Saint-Alphonse Seminary outside of Quebec City have won the right to sue a priest who they say molested them.
The dozen alleged victims are also seeking damages from the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the religious order that ran the now-defunct Roman Catholic seminary in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
On Wednesday, the Quebec Superior Court allowed the class-action lawsuit to go ahead.
The suit was filed on behalf of former students who say they were sexually abused by priests between 1960 and 1987. Each of the alleged victims is claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
The former students allege they were molested by Father Raymond-Marie Lavoie, who was a music teacher at the school and also oversaw the dormitory.
Lavoie, who is now in his 70s, also faces criminal charges related to the alleged abuse of youths under his care in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Lawyer Pierre Boivin, who is representing former students in the class-action lawsuit, said the lawsuit will claim that Lavoie and other priests engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy.
"They also, it is alleged, decided who would abuse what kid. They shared the kids," said Boivin.
He said students were discouraged from speaking out.
"One victim spoke to a priest to try to find some help," said Boivin. "What happened is that he was kicked out of the college instead."
The case still faces a number of hurdles before it reaches the trial phase, including a challenge from the college and the order.
Lavoie is expected back in court in January on the criminal charges.