Retired Ottawa Priest Named in Abuse Lawsuit in Quebec
By Andrew Duffy
November 22, 2017
|Rev. Jacques Desgrandchamps, 85, a retired Ottawa priest who is named in a Quebec lawsuit by a man seeking damages for sex assaults that allegedly occurred at a private Catholic school in the Eastern Townships. |
An Ottawa priest has been named in a Quebec lawsuit that seeks almost $2 million in damages for sex assaults that allegedly occurred at a private Catholic boarding school.
Rev. Jacques Desgrandchamps, 85, a priest in the Servite Order, lives in residence at St. Anthony of Padua Church. He served as an assistant pastor at the Booth Street church until December 2016.
In a recently filed lawsuit, it’s alleged Desgrandchamps sexually abused a student at Notre-Dame des Servites Colleges, a private Catholic school, during the mid-1970s.
The anonymous plaintiff, now 57, attended the boarding school in Quebec’s Eastern Townships between 1973 and 1975.
He alleges that as a 12-year-old, he was invited to Desgrandchamps’ room in a separate wing of the school — a place off limits to students — where he was served alcohol and sexually abused. Repeated incidents of abuse continued for two years until the victim left the school, the lawsuit alleges.
“Our client was always there: He was given a key to that wing of the school reserved for the religious members of the congregation,” said the man’s Montreal lawyer, Robert Kugler. “He was there at night and numerous members of the congregation saw him there — and observed that he was going into the room of Father Desgrandchamps at night.
“They knew he had a single bed in his room and none of them did anything. Nobody went into protect him. Nobody said anything.”
The allegations have not been proven in a court.
Desgrandchamps did not respond to a request for comment, but earlier this week, he told Radio-Canada that he did have sex with some of his students during his teaching career.
Desgrandchamps told the CBC there was no violence and that he did not use force. An excerpt from that interview is online.
Kugler said his client is seeking to have a class action suit approved by Quebec Superior Court because he believes other victims may exist, and he wants to help them obtain justice.
“The vast, vast majority of victims of sexual abuse will never come forward, will never disclose that they’ve been abused,” said Kugler. “And those that do come forward will only do so after they’ve suffered in silence for decades…
“In every other one of our sexual abuse class actions that we’ve taken against religious orders and boarding schools, it has always started with one person and ended with more.”
Kugler said his client has struggled with depression and addictions, and has had difficulty forming meaningful relationship in his life.
Ordained a priest in August 1963, Desgrandchamps is a member of the 800-year-old Servite Order, and came to Ottawa in his retirement to assist at St. Anthony’s parish. He taught history, English and French at Notre-Dame des Servites Colleges in Ayer’s Cliff south of Sherbrooke in the 1970s.
A spokesman for Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he “is deeply saddened by the allegations concerning Father Desgrandchamps.” Prendergast also announced that he has suspended Desgrandchamps from performing the ministries of a priest in the Archdiocese of Ottawa.
“The archbishop is presently reviewing the situation in consultation with the Servite superior,” said Deacon Gilles Ouelette.
|St. Anthony of Padua church on Booth Street. |