Windsor

Basilian Fathers lose sexual abuse appeal, must pay $2.6 million in damages

The Basilian Fathers of Toronto lost a sexual abuse case in the Court of Appeal for Ontario on Friday, and will still be required to pay approximately $2.57 million in costs and damages to Sudbury resident Roderick MacLeod.

William Hodgson Marshall pleaded guilty in 2011 to 17 counts of indecent assault

Sexual abuse survivor Patrick McMahon, left, and filmmaker Matt Gallagher, right, were present for the Ontario appeal court's decision. (CBC)

The Basilian Fathers of Toronto lost a sexual abuse case in the Court of Appeal for Ontario on Friday, and will still be required to pay approximately $2.57 million in costs and damages to Sudbury resident Roderick MacLeod.

MacLeod previously won a case before Ontario's Superior Court of Justice in August 2018, during which he detailed multiple instances of sexual abuse at the hands of William Hodgson Marshall while MacLeod was a student at St. Charles College in Sudbury, run by the Basilians.

The Basilians presented three grounds of appeal, arguing, in part, that the money they were required to pay "was excessive."

In her conclusion, appeal judge Julie A. Thorburn dismissed the Basilians' claim that the money owed was excessive, though she granted the Basilian's request that a five per cent prejudgment rate of interest be lowered.

William Hodgson Marshall died in 2014.

The rate was reduced to 1.3 per cent. 

Marshall pleaded guilty in 2011 to 17 counts of indecent assault perpetrated against 16 boys and one woman. He died in 2014.

Read the Court of Appeal for Ontario's decision:

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Sexual abuse survivors watched decision unfold

MacLeod was among those who watched the provincial appeals court deliver its decision on Friday.

Also present were Windsor resident Patrick McMahon, another of Marshall's victims, as well as documentary filmmaker Matt Gallagher, whose film Prey details sexual abuse carried out by Catholic priests including Marshall.

"I was so happy for Rod, I  was almost giddy with excitement that they had vindicated what the original jury verdict proclaimed," said McMahon. "It was wonderful thing to be able to share."

McMahon said the Basilians engaged in a "desperate attempt to protect some of their finances."

"It was sad to see, but not surprising," said McMahon.

Gallagher said he filmed the decision, and plans on including the footage in a new cut of his film.

"We were on pins and needles, because anything could have happened," said Gallagher. "There was a $2.6 million award at stake, and so it could have happened that the judges took that away."

McMahon added that he wants survivors of sexual abuse to know that they're not to blame "and it's never too late to come forward, reach out to someone you trust, reach out to a victim's group, reach out to the police, reach out to a lawyer, but don't reach out to the church."

"That is not where you go when you're the victim of a crime," he said. 

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