Notice posted for class action suit alleging sexual abuse by priests in Halifax-Yarmouth

Chronicle Herald via Saltwire

June 17, 2020

By Francis Campbell

Hundreds of Nova Scotians who say they were sexuallly abused by Roman Catholic priests dating back to 1960 are likely to be part of a lawsuit launched against the Halifax-Yarmouth Archdiocese and its archbishop.

A notice appeared recently on the websites of both the archdiocese and the McKiggan-Hebert law firm in Halifax, who filed the class action with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in August 2018 on behalf of Douglas Champagne and other sexual abuse survivors.

“There is a court order in place that has established the steps that need to be taken to notify potential class members of the claim and this is one of the steps,” said lawyer John McKiggan.

“One of the requirements is to provide notice to potential class members telling them there is a class action out here and you can participate if you want to.”

Champagne, according to the court filing, suffered lasting and permanent effects from sexual abuse at the hands of Father George Epoch while Epoch worked as a priest at the Canadian Martyrs Church in Halifax and Champagne was an altar boy.

The class action says priests employed by the archdiocese, which amalgamated the former dioceses of Halifax and Yarmouth in 2011, had for decades “sexually assaulted and battered Catholic worshippers who attended their parishes.”

Responsible for the spiritual guidance and care of the claimants, the lawsuit says priests developed a relationship of psychological intimacy with their victims that provided them the opportunity to “engage in acts of sexual assault and battery.”

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