London Diocese takes child sexual abuse settlement challenge to Supreme Court


August 19, 2020

The Catholic Diocese of London is taking its fight against Irene Deschenes to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Deschenes was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1971 and 1973, while she was a student at St. Ursula Catholic School and a member of his parish in Chatham, Ont. She was 10 years old when it started.

Deschenes reported the abuse in 1992 and filed a lawsuit four years later. She reached a financial settlement with the Diocese in 2000 believing church officials did not know Father Sylvestre was preying on young girls.

He pleaded guilty in August 2006 to sexual assaults involving 47 victims, including Deschenes. All the girls were under the age of 18.

“On assurance from the Diocese of London that it had no information or knowledge that the priest had engaged in sexual abuse of other girls prior to the time Irene was so abused in 1971, Irene accepted an out-of-court settlement,” reads a statement released Wednesday by the group Advocates for Clergy Trauma Survivors in Canada (ACTS-Canada).

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