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  Abuse Lawsuit Names Retired Bishop, Vatican

CBC News [Canada]
July 6, 2005

A $3-million lawsuit claiming sexual abuse has been filed against the Vatican, the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals, a dead priest, and a retired bishop who used to work in the Cornwall area.

Former altar boy Adrien Donat St. Louis alleges Eugene Larocque sexually abused him in the 1970s at Saint James Church in Maxville, Ont., about 30 kilometres north of Cornwall.

St. Louis claims Larocque exposed himself and repeatedly asked the boy to masturbate him.

Laroque strongly denies the allegations.

Adrien St. Louis alleges he was sexually assaulted as an altar boy in the 1970s.

"It's not true. I can swear on a stack of bibles it's not true," he said.

Larocque says he doesn't remember who St. Louis is, and that all of the accusations against him have hurt him, his family and the church. He says the only way he's been able to stay sane is through prayer.

Ontario Provincial Police started investigating Larocque in the 1990s as part of Project Truth, a larger investigation into claims of sexual abuse by a group of people in the Cornwall area.

Project Truth resulted in 114 charges against 15 men, including doctors, lawyers and Catholic priests. Only one person was ever convicted.

Larocque was not among those charged.

The lawsuit also names Father Donald Scott, the parish priest at St. James.

"He conducted himself good in church," said St. Louis. "He was a very good preacher I admit. He knew how to get people on his side. [He was] a very charming priest."

But St. Louis says the charm hid a dark side. The statement of claim alleges Scott, who is no longer alive, was using him sexually in return for gifts of alcohol and the use of cars.

St. Louis' lawyer says he believes the Vatican and the College of Cardinals should take part of the blame for the alleged incidents, because they control and govern the Catholic church appointing and supervising bishops and teaching them church doctrine.

"The courts should recognize the Roman Catholic Church, or the Vatican, or the powers that be in Rome, have a responsibility worldwide to these children who are now adults," said Paul Ladroit.

The statement says the college and Vatican should have screened Larocque before making him a bishop.

But an executive member of the Canadian Bar Associaton, Ben Hanuka, disagrees with Ladroit. He says the Vatican and the College of Cardinals are too remote to be sued.

"I'm doubtful that a legal claim can be made against them just because they have a say from a moral perspective," he said. "I would question if that's sufficient to impose a liability."

While suing the Vatican is difficult, Hanuka says it is possible. A foreign state is not immune from lawsuits that relate to personal or bodily injury, he said.

In April, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant appointed a judge to head a long-awaited inquiry into how the justice system and other public institutions responded to allegations that a ring of men sexually abused boys in the Cornwall area for decades.

While suing the Vatican is difficult, Hanuka says it is possible. A foreign state is not immune from lawsuits that relate to personal or bodily injury, he said.

In April, Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant appointed a judge to head a long-awaited inquiry into how the justice system and other public institutions responded to allegations that a ring of men sexually abused boys in the Cornwall area for decades.

 
 

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