Holy Cross seeks extension on $18M compensation payout
Victims accuse congregation of drawing out payment process
The Holy Cross Congregation says it needs six more months to work through all the applications submitted to an $18 million fund set up for victims of sexual abuse before compensation is paid.
Lawyers for the congregation asked a Superior Court judge in Montreal today for more time to process the applications of the more than 200 alleged victims that have come forward.
"The Holy Cross Congregation is adequately compensating all the victims to allow them to close a painful chapter in their lives," the congregation said in a statement released Thursday.
"The extension is necessary due to the brevity of many of the claims as well as delays resulting from requests for information, including medical records supporting those claims."
The congregation reached an out of court settlement in October 2011, two years after victims launched a class action lawsuit.
The money is to serve as compensation for sexual abuse that occurred between 1950 and 2001 at Montreal's Collège Notre-Dame and at schools in Saint-Césaire and Pohénégamook.
Holy Cross also agreed to issue an apology.
The association representing the victims has accused the congregation of foot dragging in paying out the historic $18 million sum.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the association says the congregation is acting in bad faith.
"More than a year after a historic agreement was reached between the victims of religious pedophiles and the Congregation of Holy Cross congregation, no one has yet been compensated," the association stated.
In total, 223 victims have come forward to receive compensation, a number higher than anticipated.
Lawyers representing the congregation have challenged nearly 80 per cent of the claims, the victim's association says.
Sebastien Richard, a former student who speaks on behalf of the victims, says while it's true that some bogus claims have been made, they were quickly rejected.
The judge in the case began this morning's hearing by saying he wants a private meeting with the lawyers on both sides.
Richard said he has faith in the judge hearing the case and believes that meeting is an appropriate way to proceed.
"He wants to see the victims move on and he wants to help the victims," he said. "I think if they have a closed-door discussion, I'm pretty sure it's going to be pretty clear what he thinks about what is going on."
The hearing is expected to continue this afternoon.
Criminal investigations are still ongoing in connection with former teachers at the schools.
Last week, police indicated that warrants had been issued for two former teachers, Georges Sarazin, 91, and Olivain Leblanc, 70, and they would likely be arrested soon.