Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-yarmouth Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuit

McKiggan Hebert Law Firm
September 14, 2020

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of persons who allege they were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese from 1960 to date.

The class action, filed by Douglas Champagne on behalf of other sexual abuse survivors, claims that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax-Yarmouth, more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.

Several priests from the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth have been criminally convicted of sexually abusing children within the Archdiocese.

Champagne alleges he was sexually abused by Father George Epoch, a notorious sexual abuser, while Epoch was working as a priest at Canadian Martyrs Church in Halifax. Champagne claims that the sexual abuse had lasting and permanent effects on his life.

The lawsuit claims that the Archdiocese sent priests accused of sexual misconduct to Southdown Institute, a treatment facility in Ontario, and then placed the priests back into parishes without any notice or warning to parishioners.

You can read a copy of the class action pleadings here.

The class action was filed by Halifax lawyer John McKiggan of the law firm McKiggan Hebert Lawyers and Koskie Minsky LLP of Toronto.

According to John McKiggan Q.C., lead counsel from McKiggan Hebert:

Childhood sexual abuse is a crime that can have lasting and debilitating effects on itís victims. Predators use their influence and positions of power to gain access to, and abuse, vulnerable children. The claim alleges the Archdiocese of Halifax was aware of sexual abuse by many of itís priests and failed to take steps to protect children within the Archdiocese.

This class action is about survivors of childhood sexual abuse being able to take control of their lives and hold the Archdiocese accountable for itís inaction.Ē

McKiggan said that proceeding as a class action helps to protect survivors:mckiggan - breaking the silence sexual abuse claims in canada

Many survivors of sexual abuse, through no fault of their own, carry a great deal of shame and guilt about what happened to them. Fear of public disclosure prevents many victims of childhood abuse from breaking the silence about what happened to them and seeking help. The advantage of a class action is that it allows survivors claims to be resolved in a respectful and private fashion that protects vulnerable victims of abuse.

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers is accepting enquiries from persons who were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese of Halifax and the former Diocese of Yarmouth. If you, or a member of your family, were a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, you may contact us for further information.

An August 20th story in the CBC described what Roman Catholic Archbishop Anthony Mancini has spent most of his 11 years as head of the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese dealing with. He said, ďI canít talk about whatís happening in Pennsylvania or talk about whatís happening in Chile or whatís happening in Australia, but itís been happening in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the last 40, 50 years. So weíre not immune to this stuff.Ē

ďItís been happening and weíve been dealing with this over the last number of years. Iíve been here just about 11 years and this has been one of the primary issues that Iíve dealt with and continue to deal with during the whole ministry that Iíve exercised here.Ē

Mancini also said, ďIf youíve been abused, call the police, call the authorities. We want to deal with it. Why? Not because I like litigation. Not because I care about fighting with lawyers or any of this kind of stuff. Itís because itís necessary. Because the church is in crisis.Ē

For more information about the Halifax Priest Sexual Abuse Class Action call McKiggan Hebert toll free at (866) 975-7160 or fill out the confidential interview form at the bottom of the page.

John McKiggan Q.C. has received national recognition for his work over the past 25 years representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse. He is the author of Breaking the Silence: The Survivorís Guide to Abuse Claims in Canada.

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