New Brunswick

Priest sex abuse claimant sues Moncton diocese

A man who alleges he was sexually abused by the late Father Camille Léger in the 1970s is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton as well as three archbishops.

Alleged victim of Cap-Pelé priest Camille Léger also suing three archbishops

Archbishop André Richard, who recently apologized to any victims of Léger, is one of three defendants named in the lawsuit. (CBC)

A man who alleges he was sexually abused by the late Father Camille Léger in the 1970s is suing the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton as well as three archbishops.

The man, who has asked the court not to release his identity, claims he was molested by the Cap-Pelé priest "on a regular and repeated basis" for five years, between the ages of 11 and 16.

He was an altar boy and member of the Ste-Thérèse-d'Avila parish during the period in question, according to his statement of claim, filed with the Court of Queens Bench in Moncton on Friday.

The man, now middle-aged and living in Saint John, claims he still suffers physical, emotional and mental pain and suicidal thoughts from the abuse he suffered.

He is seeking financial compensation and a court order that the archdiocese turn over to police any information regarding other allegations of sexual misconduct by priests.

The lawsuit names three archbishops as defendants:

  • Ernest Léger, who was the archbishop in 1997 when the church received a report of Léger's inappropriate actions with another child.
  • Valéry Vienneau, the current archbishop, who was involved in negotiating a settlement in that case
  • André Richard, who, until recently was in charge of the diocese for 10 years and allegedly did little to address Leger's conduct

Diocese responds

The plaintiff's lawyer, Robert Talach, has said the church's conciliation process allows the abuse the remain shrouded in secrecy. (CBC)

Archdiocese officials could not be reached Friday for comment.

But in a written statement, archdiocese spokesman Donald Langis confirmed receipt of the lawsuit.

"The independent mediation process designed by the Honorable Michel Bastarache was designed specifically to deal with claims such as this in an atmosphere of conciliation with fair offers of compensation and without the need to pay lawyers," Langis said.

"While it is the right of people to use the court system if they wish to do so, the archdiocese does hope that victims will avail themselves of the conciliation process, which is still open to them."

Earlier this month, the archdiocese announced it had hired Bastarache, a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice, to set up and manage a conciliation process for people who were victims of sexual abuse by Léger.

Compensation between $15,000 to $300,000 will be given out, Bastarache said.

Victims have until the end of the month to contact Bastarache.

The plaintiff's lawyer, Robert Talach, has argued the process only keeps the abuse shrouded in secrecy.

Numerous allegations

Léger died in 1990 and was never convicted of any crimes. He was a priest in Cap-Pelé from 1957 to 1980.

Several people in the small, southeastern New Brunswick village have come forward recently to talk about being abused by Léger.

The debate started when the village council announced it would hold a referendum on whether to remove the former priest's name from the local hockey arena.

There was an immediate groundswell of support around the idea of removing Léger's name from the arena. The Cap-Pelé council had the sign removed and cancelled the plebiscite.

In March, Archbishop André Richard apologized to anyone who was abused by Léger. But he did not mention how the church had already compensated at least one individual for abuse.

Normand Brun, who now lives in Vancouver, said he was abused by Léger.

He said the abuse started when he was nine years old and it went on for four years.

Brun took his complaint to the Catholic Church in 1997 and received financial compensation. He is unable to discuss how much money he received due to legal reasons.