Woman files lawsuit alleging abuse against St. James Church in Vernon, B.C.

North Shore News [North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada]

February 24, 2022

By Darren Handschuh /Castanet

The woman was a student at St. James School from 1968 to 1972 and was allegedly molested in 1970

Another lawsuit alleging sexual abuse has been filed against St. James Catholic Church in Vernon.

A member of the Okanagan Indian Band is claiming she was sexually abused at a church-run elementary school in Vernon when she was a child.

The woman filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court Feb. 22 against the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops and John Doe.

Court document state the woman does not know the name of the priest who allegedly molested her, but claims his identity is known by the diocese.about:blank

According to court documents, the woman was a student at St. James School from 1968 to 1972 and was allegedly molested in 1970.

“In or around the spring of 1970, when the plaintiff was seven years old and enrolled as a student at St. James School, she was in the schoolyard during a lunch break from classes when she entered St. James Church,” reads the notice of claim. “Inside St. James Church, the plaintiff encountered John Doe. John Doe grabbed her, picked her up, touched her genitals, penetrated her vagina, and kissed her on the mouth, neck and face.

“As a clergyman, John Doe was in a position of power, trust and authority over the plaintiff, by virtue of the post and role conferred upon him by the diocese. The conduct of John Doe was intentional, malicious, and was done with the knowledge that it would cause the plaintiff humiliation, indignity, mental distress and psychological injury,” the claim continues.

Because of the assault, the woman has struggled with depression, substance abuse, PTSD, low self esteem, panic attacks, mental and emotional issues.

“As a result of the sexual assault and the injuries sustained, the plaintiff has sustained a loss of earning capacity, both past and prospective,” the statement of claim alleges. “The plaintiff will continue to require psychological counselling and therapy, medication and will continue to incur expenses as a result of the sexual assault and the injuries sustained.”

The allegations have not been proven in court.

In September 2020, an out-of-court settlement was reached between the Diocese of Kamloops and two Vernon brothers who were sexually abused as teens by a Catholic priest.

In August 2020, the Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese was ordered to pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages.