Sex Cases Prompt Sale of Bishop's Home

By Joe Matyas
London Free Press [Canada]
February 13, 2007

A core-area residence that's been home to London's Roman Catholic bishops for more than 90 years is being sold to provide compensation to victims of sexual abuse.

The nine-bedroom home at 90 Central Ave., near Talbot Street, has been listed for sale at $850,000 since Dec. 14 and will remain on the market until sold, a spokesperson for the Diocese of London said yesterday.

"The proceeds from the sale will be tied to a fund that will be used for sexual abuse settlements," Ron Pickersgill said.

He said Bishop Ronald Peter Fabbro decided to sell his home, where three priests also live, to help meet the diocese's commitment to compensate persons abused by priests.

Fabbro is exploring options for his living quarters, including the possibility of living in a church rectory, Pickersgill said.

The Central Avenue property has been home to every Roman Catholic bishop in London since it was given to Bishop Michael Fallon as a gift in 1914, said Pickersgill.

Principal residents of the home have included bishops Gerald Emmett Carter, who became a cardinal, John Michael Sherlock and most recently, Fabbro.

The property has a history dating back to 1818, said Owen Price of Royal LePage Triland Realty, the listing agent.

"It was originally a farm property owned by John Kent, who settled in London," said Price.

His son, Thomas Kent, a prosperous London businessperson, built the house in 1876 and it was known for years as Blackfriars, said Price.

It was sold in 1913 to a staunch Catholic, John Donnelly of Buffalo, who donated it to Fallon as a diocesan residence, he said.

The bishop added an extension to the front of the house, including pillars on stone pedestals and a large verandah.

The house is considered one of the finest examples of 19th-century Italianate architecture in London, Price said.

"It's a house full of history, although it hasn't been plaqued and officially designated" as an historic site, he said.

The 6,600-square-foot house has seven bathrooms, four fireplaces and large living and dining rooms.

"It's a very big house that's in need of some repairs," said Price.

In recent years, the diocese has been hit with dozens of lawsuits from sexual abuse victims and the prospect of paying millions of dollars in compensation.

Fabbro has said publicly that church has to be committed to justice for the victims.


The Roman Catholic Diocese of London has been hit with several lawsuits by victims who have been sexually abused by priests:

- John Swales and his brothers were abused more than 30 years ago by Rev. Barry Glendinning while he was a professor at St. Peter's Seminary. Swales and his two brothers won a $1.4-million judgment against the diocese in 2004.

- Richard Corbett of Wheatley filed a $4-million lawsuit against the diocese late last year, claiming he was abused in the mid 1960s by Glendinning when he served at a Windsor parish.

- Mary Jane Haslam of MacGregor is suing the diocese for $4.5-million, alleging in a lawsuit filed last year that she was abused by Rev. William R. Ring in 1973 while he was a priest at a Thamesville church.

- Rev. Charles Sylvestre was convicted last year of abusing 47 girls in various Southwestern Ontario parishes and schools between 1952 and 1989. Two of his victims reached settlements with the diocese. About 40 other women are in the process of suing the diocese.

- Trevor Kannawin and Philippe Lauriault, who were abused by Rev. Konstanty Przybylski while they were altar boys at a Port Dover church, each filed lawsuits last year seeking $3.1 million from the diocese.



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