New Brunswick

Bathurst Diocese case over clergy abuse goes into final arguments

A precedent setting case is going into its final stretch. Lawyers for the Bathurst Catholic Diocese and Aviva Insurance are preparing their closing arguments.

Lawyers for the Bathurst Diocese and Aviva Insurance prepare their closing statements

Archbishop of Moncton, Valéry Vienneau, testified in precedent setting case. ((CBC))

Lawyers for the Bathurst Catholic Diocese and Aviva Insurance are now preparing their closing arguments after spending the last five days arguing over compensation for abuse victims.

The Diocese of Bathurst filed a civil lawsuit against Aviva Insurance to help recover more than $7 million it paid out to victims of sexual abuse.

In court, the lawyers for Aviva argued the insurer has no obligation to compensate the church for documented "criminal activity," of which the church was aware. 

Counsel for the diocese argued that in the 1950s and several decades that followed, the diocese did not know to report sexual abuse by clergy to Aviva. And when the insurance policy was repeatedly renewed, no one from the company asked the diocese if there were incidents of abuse within the church. 

The trial heard from the Archbishop of Moncton, Valery Vienneau, who was the bishop of the Diocese of Bathurst in 2010. He requested there be a confidential compensation process for victims. 
Aviva Insurance lawyer Charles LeBlond says the diocese knew about sexual abuse and did not report it to the insurer. (Ian Bonnell/CBC)

Former Supreme Court Justice Michel Bastarache also testified for the Diocese. He said that he set up and ran the compensation process.

An insurance expert testified for the plaintiff, as well.

The defendant called only one witness, a senior employee with Aviva Insurance.

Both sides will present their closing statements Wednesday.