Vancouver Archdiocese Responds to Lawsuit over Alleged Sexual Abuse
By Gordon Hoekstra
January 19, 2013
The Vancouver Catholic archdiocese argues it shouldn't have to pay damages in a B.C. woman's civil suit for alleged sexual abuse by a priest when she was a teenager in the 1980s, claiming the relationship was consensual.
Lawrence Cooper, also known as Father Damian Cooper, and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver filed a response in B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 3 to Kathleen Taylor's suit.
Last month, Taylor filed a suit seeking damages for sexual exploitation and/or sexual assaults because she said she had suffered psychological damage. She is seeking general, aggravated, punitive and special damages, as well as loss of past and future earnings.
The church "admits that it is vicariously liable" for some of the actions of the priest in the course of his employment, but adds he was "reasonably supervised" and the church had no knowledge of the personal relationship between the priest and Taylor.
The "defendants deny that the sexual relationship that occurred between the plaintiff and the defendant Cooper occurred without the plaintiff's consent," said the court documents.
Vancouver archdiocese spokesman Paul Schratz said the church would not be making any additional comment because the matter is before the courts.
Last month, the Vancouver archdiocese did not dispute Taylor's general claims, and said the church "regrets how she was drawn into a sexual relationship with the priest."
Taylor said in her suit that she first met Cooper in 1985 as a 15-year-old at Camp Latona on Gambier Island, and a relationship developed that led to him taking her to motels for sex by the time she was 17. She said she broke off the relationship in 1992, and in 1994 told the church about the abuse.
Taylor also declined to comment on the Vancouver archdiocese's response to her suit now that the legal action is underway.
In the response to her suit, the church said the sexual relationship between the priest and Taylor started at 18, not 17.
The church also claimed Taylor terminated the relationship when she 19 years old, began seeing someone else for eight months, and then initiated a renewal of the relationship with the priest when she was 20.
The church said Taylor gave Cooper an ultimatum in 1992, when she was 22, to leave the church so they could get married or she would terminate the relationship, according to the court documents.
In her suit, Taylor said she started seeing the priest, who was ordained in 1986, for counselling after school as a 16-year-old Grade 11 student. Soon afterwards, he was giving her "prolonged embraces" after the counselling sessions.
The Vancouver archdiocese said it provided significant funding to Taylor for her living expenses and psychological treatment for two years after the church learned of the relationship in 1994. (Taylor has not denied she received support, but earlier declined to discuss the details because of the suit.) The church said any psychological damage Taylor claims happened was not caused by her relationship with Cooper, according to the court documents.
The Vancouver archdiocese has said Cooper was immediately removed from his priest duties after it was learned in 1994 he had a relationship with Taylor.
The Vancouver archdiocese also said Cooper was terminated from a New York diocese for "problems of a similar nature" in 2001.
During Cooper's eight-year tenure in the Vancouver archdiocese, he was a pastor at St. Joseph's in Squamish and at St. Jude's in Vancouver.