Former Altar Boy Alleges Sexual Abuse, Sues Archdiocese

By Ryan Cormier
Edmonton Journal
January 20, 2012

A former altar boy who claims he was sexually abused by a Grande Cache priest and an Edmonton church employee in the 1970s is suing the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton for $6.8 million.

The man, who now lives in British Columbia, was an altar boy at St. Joseph's Basilica in downtown Edmonton from 1973 to 1975. For three years before that, he was part of the congregation. He was a teen-ager at the time.

The lawsuit alleges he was "sexually abused, assaulted and battered" by Patrick O'Neill while at the Grande Cache parish on an altar boy ex-change program. O'Neill was a priest in the parish at the time.

The lawsuit states that the archdiocese failed to remove O'Neill from his duties when it should have been aware of abuse allegations. The arch-diocese "failed to investigate reports or other information indicating that there was a problem or a potential problem with respect to Patrick O'Neill's access to and relationship with children." The archdiocese also failed to report allegations against O'Neill to proper authorities, the lawsuit alleges. Statements of claim contain allegations not proven in court. The Grande Cache parish was supervised and managed by Edmonton's archdiocese at the time.

O'Neill was given a two-year conditional sentence in December 1999 after he pleaded guilty to the sexual abuse of two boys. That abuse occurred in the 1990s. At the time, O'Neill was already serving a two-year prison term for fondling three boys and attempting to sodomize one in the 1970s in Galahad, about 150 kilometres southeast of Edmonton. The lawsuit also accuses the archdiocese of failing to establish proper policies and procedures with respect to access to children and the investigation of potential sexual abuse issues. In a separate lawsuit, the same man is also accusing a former employee of St. Joseph's Basilica of sexual abuse. When the boy was a member of the congregation, but not yet an altar boy, the statement of claim alleges the employee developed a relationship with the boy, gave him gifts and "groomed" him for eventual abuse.

As a result of that abuse, the man was fired from his position with the archdiocese, the lawsuit says.

The archdiocese allowed both men to have children from the church in their homes without proper supervision, the man says.

In the decades since the alleged sexual misconduct, the man has suffered psychiatric disorders, severe depression, anxiety, personality disorders, loss of confidence, decreased social skills, post-traumatic stress disorder and nightmares.

He has gone through extensive therapy and will need more.

The alleged victim filed two law-suits against the archdiocese, each for $3.4 million.









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