Class action lawsuit approved for alleged sexual abuse victims at Catholic institutions

CTV News/The Canadian Press

September 27, 2017

The Quebec Court of Appeal has authorized a new class action lawsuit against a major Roman Catholic organization for alleged sexual abuse committed by some of its members.

The decision overturns a 2015 Superior Court of Quebec ruling rejecting the class action request.

The Congregation of Holy Cross apologized and paid up to $18 million in 2013 to compensate victims for abuse that occurred at three Quebec institutions over a five-decade span dating back to the 1940s.

That agreement stemmed from an out-of-court mediated settlement, spurred by the threat of a class-action lawsuit.

Sebastien Richard, a spokesman for a victims’ rights group said the landmark settlement prompted about 40 new alleged victims to come forward.

Gilles Gareau, a lawyer representing the class actions said there could be hundreds more victims. He believes there could be up to 500 victims.

Because they are seeking between $50,000 and $150,000 in moral and punitive damages, the case could be worth as much as $50 to $75 million.

Richard said the current class-action names more institutions, including Montreal’s iconic Saint Joseph’s Oratory.

In a phone interview, Richard pointed out that the oratory is Canada’s largest church and reports directly to the Vatican, which could lead to embarrassment on the church’s part if the class-action is successful.

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