Supreme court denies Basilian Fathers appeal to sexual abuse lawsuit

The Supreme Court of Canada has denied an appeal by the Basilian Fathers who were trying to fight paying two thirds of a $2.6 million lawsuit filed by Rod MacLeod, a sex abuse victim of Fr. Hodgson Marshall.

Six year legal battle comes to an end

William Hodgson Marshall received a two-year sentence for acts of indecent assault against 16 boys and one woman. (CBC)

In what personal injury lawyer Rob Talach calls a precedent setting move the Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed an application by the Basilian Fathers of Toronto to hear an appeal of a lawsuit against them in relation to acts of sex abuse by Catholic Basilian priest Hodgson Marshall.

"Finally. This has been a six year legal battle through two appeals and it's really been David versus Goliath and it's good to see that the little guy can still win," said Talach, a lawyer with Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers in London.

The lawsuit was filed by Rod MacLeod who was abused by Marshall in the early 1960's at the St. Charles College in Sudbury. It was run by the Basilians.

MacLeod calls the dismissal "absolutely fantastic."

"It was a great worry of course because the Basilians were asking for a new trial and if they got that it would be another two years in the court system before we would finally get an answer," said MacLeod in an interview from his home in Thornhill, Ontario.

MacLeod sued the Basilian Fathers and was granted a total compensation of $2.6 million in August of 2018.The Basilian Fathers lost an appeal in the Court of Appeal for Ontario last October.

The Basilians ended up paying out $975,000 in various damages and a fine, but were trying to fight a $1.5 million judgement for wage loss to Mr. MacLeod at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Talach said the precedent set here was two-fold: A fine imposed of $500,000 for covering up the abuse makes it tougher for perpetrators and those that support them. 

"The other part of this is it made it easier for victims to get compensation," said Talach."This really protects children today," he said.

Besides the compensation, MacLeod is happy his victory will inspire others to fight for justice.

"Because I didn't settle and fought all the way through now there is a story to tell people out there who have been sexually abused in Canada it's possible to go through the court system and get real justice," he said.

After his time in Sudbury, Hodgson Marshall moved to Windsor where he continued to abuse boys where he was a priest and a high school teacher. A local man, Patrick McMahon has already settled an abuse lawsuit with the Basilian Fathers for $415,000.


Dale Molnar

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is an award-winning video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print.