Class action suit launched against pedophile ex-priest Ralph Rowe
Former boy scout leader, ex-priest Ralph Rowe is believed to have as many as 500 victims
A former priest convicted of 75 sex crimes is facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit along with his employer, the Anglican Church's Synod of the Diocese of Keewatin and Scouts Canada with whom he volunteered.
Ralph Rowe flew his own plane into remote First Nations in northwestern Ontario in the 1970s and 80s. First Nations leaders and mental health professionals who work in the region estimate as many as 500 people were abused by him. For all his convictions, Rowe served less than five years in jail.
Dozens of men who were victims of Rowe settled previous suits against the Anglican Church and Scouts Canada but lawyer Jonathan Ptak, whose firm launched the class action on Thursday, says this case aims to bring public awareness and policy changes along with the $110 million claim for damages.
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"There's never been a light shone on this horrific and very important story involving rampant sexual abuse of Aboriginal youth in Canada's north," Ptak said.
"There have been some individual settlements but there's never been an opportunity such as this class action where all the victims can come forward, have their stories be told and hopefully we can bring about some real change in the policies and practices in the organizations that employ these people," he said.
Alvin McKay, 39, of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug, launched the lawsuit.
The statement of claim states that McKay was sexually assaulted at least three times by Rowe over the course of two years, beginning when McKay was five.
Damages are being claimed for "physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm" suffered by McKay and others expected to sign on to the suit.
Ptak said the case will give Rowe's actions "a public face and a public accounting which is really important because of its historical implications and also because of the devastation that he, Mr. Rowe, brought on so many northern communities."
None of the allegations in the suit have been proven in court. The court needs to certify it before it can proceed as a class action — a process that could take months.