Military priest accused of sexual abuse in B.C. case

Alaska Highway News [Fort St. John BC]

July 12, 2023

By Jeremy Hainsworth

[This is a significantly different version of an article blogged in Abuse Tracker yesterday.]

The Bishop of Victoria and the Roman Catholic Military Ordinariate of Canada have been named as defendants.

A B.C. man is alleging he was sexually abused in Victoria by an unnamed priest under the supervision of Canadian Catholic military officials and the Diocese of Victoria.

The allegations come in Kevin Shawn Palmer’s July 7 notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. It names as defendants the Bishop of Victoria and the Roman Catholic Military Ordinariate of Canada.

The claim said the bishop was responsible for governance of Chapel Our Lady Star of the Sea premises and who had access to children there.

The claim said the ordinariate was responsible for governance of the chapel and who had access to children there.

The claim cites a John Doe as allegedly preying on Palmer and sexually assaulting him between 1964 and 1965.

The claim describes Doe as “a member of the clergy, agent, religious leader, employee, and/or volunteer and/or affiliated with the defendants.”

The claim asserts Doe used his position of authority and trust granted by the defendants to ensure Palmer said nothing about the alleged situation.

“Doe willfully and/or negligently inflicted pain and suffering, mental suffering, humiliation, and degradation upon the plaintiff, sexually assaulted the plaintiff and interfered with the plaintiff’s normal childhood,” court documents state, noting the defendants had a duty of care to protect Palmer from wrongdoings of a sexual nature.

“Doe was acting in the course of his duties as an agent for the defendants and was using the rules, principles, and policies of the defendants to further his abuse,” the claim said. “Doe was, as a result of his position with the defendants, able to take advantage of the plaintiff under the guise of conducting the activities of a priest.”

The claim alleges the defendants failed to properly supervise or investigate Doe, had no reporting system, fostered a system where reporting deviant clergy sexual behaviour would be considered wrong and failed to protect Palmer.

He alleges the situation caused pain, trauma, humiliation, low self-esteem, depression, sexual dysfunction, mistrust of men and authority figures and a loss of life enjoyment.

Palmer seeks general, special punitive and aggravated damages.

“Doe ’s behaviour constituted sexual abuse, sexual battery, and sexual assault,” the claim said. “The defendants are vicariously liable for the wrongful actions of Doe.”

Bishop’s response

Victoria Bishop Gary Gordon told Glacier Media the diocese is unable to respond to the matter as it is before the court.

“But please be assured that the Diocese of Victoria is committed to responding fairly and compassionately to victims of sexual abuse,” Gordon said.

“We recognize that these allegations may be difficult for people to hear but may also be an opportunity for other victims to come forward so that in the light of truth there may be healing and justice for victims of sexual abuse,” he said.

The Ottawa-based ordinariate did not respond to a request for comment.