Nova Scotia

N.S. man sues church over alleged abuse

A 47-year-old Cape Breton man who alleges he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest in Nova Scotia said Thursday he decided to file his own lawsuit instead of joining a $15-million class-action settlement.

Philip Latimer says charges against Bishop Lahey 'triggered something within me'

A 47-year-old Cape Breton man who alleges he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest in Nova Scotia said Thursday he has decided to file his own lawsuit instead of joining a $15-million class-action settlement.

Philip Latimer told a news conference in downtown Halifax that he filed the suit Wednesday after discovering Bishop Raymond Lahey was charged with possessing child pornography.

"That triggered something within me," Latimer said. "I have been keeping track of it, putting it out of mind as best I could, but when the man that orchestrated the deal was no different than the man that committed the crime allegedly ... that did it for me."

Latimer, of Pleasant Hill in Cape Breton, said he then contacted a law firm to file a lawsuit. Latimer was joined by his lawyer, Aaron Lealess, and his brother, Warren Latimer, at the news conference to discuss the civil lawsuit he filed against two dioceses in Nova Scotia.

Warren Latimer, 45, also alleges he was sexually abused by the same priest. He said he didn’t tell anyone else but his wife about the abuse until Monday, when he revealed it to his older brother. But he hasn’t decided whether he’ll join his brother in his lawsuit.

Alleges abused in '70s

In a statement of claim filed with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Philip Latimer, alleges he was molested in the mid-1970s by Rev. Allan MacDonald for four years when he was an altar boy in the seaside community of Havre Boucher.

MacDonald has since died.

The lawsuit names both the archdiocese of Halifax and the Roman Catholic diocese of Antigonish, the same district at the centre of a sexual abuse settlement negotiated by Lahey, now facing the child pornography charges in Ottawa.

The 22-page claim details the abuse allegedly suffered by Latimer beginning when he was 11 years old and serving as an altar boy in the Antigonish diocese.

"The plaintiff was deprived of a normal childhood and adolescence as a result of the actions or inactions of the defendants," asserts the document by Latimer's lawyers.

The allegations made in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

Opting out of landmark settlement

Lealess said his client doesn't want to be part of the out-of-court settlement for people who said they were sexually abused by priests in the Antigonish diocese since the 1950s.

That $15-million settlement, announced last summer, was the result of a class action lawsuit spearheaded by Ron Martin, a Cape Breton man who said he was sexually abused by a priest as a boy.

Martin alleged the church, under instructions from the Pope, had a policy to keep sex-abuse allegations against priests secret. He also alleged the church, diocese and bishop sent priests from the Antigonish diocese for treatment for "sexual deviations," but kept it secret and didn't protect children.

The allegations in the class action suit were not proven in court.

Philip Latimer told reporters at the news conference that the sexual abuse put him into "a dark, dark place."

"The shame that I felt, the degree of disgust inside that I was put into — I didn’t ask for that," Latimer said. "But then after this happened, I couldn’t say nothing about it."

Latimer said coming forward to publicly explain why he filed the lawsuit was the hardest thing he has ever had to do. He said he spoke to his two children, aged 12 and 14, earlier this week about why he decided to go public with the abuse.

"First reaction by my daughter was she slapped me in the face for coming forward." Latimer said. "She was embarrassed is the reaction."

Lawsuit could reveal more: lawyer

Lealess said his client is launching a civil suit in the hope of uncovering more information. The other lawsuit that prompted the settlement lists five priests accused of sexual abuse. Lealess said MacDonald isn't included in that list.

"He wants to know, what did the diocese know about this priest, were there any reports of abuse to the diocese?" said Lealess. "He feels that civil litigation allows him access to answers, a better investigation into what was known about the priest who abused him."

Lealess said his client was shaken by the news that Lahey, the bishop who negotiated the $15-million settlement, has been charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

"I think the opting out still might have happened, but the news about Lahey hinders victims' trust and belief in the settlement negotiated by Bishop Lahey," said Lealess.

Lahey's next court appearance is Nov. 4.

With files from The Canadian Press