7 Dec 2010

Canadian Catholic Bishop facing child pornography charges denies abuse allegations in civil suit

CBC News - Canada June 1, 2010

Bishop Lahey denies abuse allegations

By Mark Quinn | CBC News

A Roman Catholic bishop facing pornography charges says he never sexually assaulted a former resident of the infamous Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s in the early 1980s.

Bishop Raymond Lahey denies all claims of abuse made in a civil lawsuit filed by Todd Boland last April in St. John's.

Boland claims sexual assaults, which his lawyer Greg Stack described as "fondling," happened over four years beginning in 1982.

Lahey filed his statement of defence in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Monday.

In it, he said that he was responsible for Boland’s care almost three decades ago.

"He does admit knowing him and extending what's referred to as pastoral services to him, but he denies that anything improper happened. That anything of a sexual nature happened," Stack told CBC News Tuesday.

Stack estimates his law firm has represented more than 100 people who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic priests — many cases resulted in criminal convictions and compensation settlements.

"Our experience with the Catholic Church is that they give no quarter. They admit nothing. They fight everything. They put victims through extensive and excruciating discovery hearings, and the like, and we have no indication that this will be any different," said Stack

Boland's lawsuit also names the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, which hasn't yet filed a defence.

Stack expects it will soon.

Lahey resigned from his position as the former head of the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia after being charged in September with possession of child pornography.

His trial on those charges is scheduled to begin in April 2011.

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  1. http://life.nationalpost.com/2011/08/02/former-bishop-lahey-faces-child-porn-sentencing/

    On Thursday, in an Ottawa courtroom, the 69-year-old Lahey is to appear at the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing. The second date will not be till later in the fall. Lahey was caught with the graphic material on his laptop after returning on a flight from the United States. A forensic audit found close to 600 images and 60 videos of boys as young as eight to 10 years old having sex with each other and with adults.

    As reported the Canadian Catholic News, an Ottawa police detective described other material found on Lahey’s computer: “pornographic stories on the bishop’s hard drives — one running to 300 pages in length — that he categorized under five themes: mastery and slavery involving adults and young boys; humiliation of young boys; torture of young boys; sex acts between young boys; and degradation of young boys or forcing sex acts on them.” In May he pleaded guilty and asked to be jailed immediately. The Crown withdrew a more serious charge of importation.

    “People are remarkably complex. So you can have a bishop who is compassionate to victims of clergy abuse and somehow in his own little world engage in child porn use,” said Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, who also screens potential clergy members and works with troubled priests, many of whom are addicted to pornography.

    “It seems so contradictory but we see it all the time, especially in people who are always under scrutiny. Narcissism comes along with high positions,” he added. “These cases are a reminder that bishops are not immune from sin and brokenness.”

    Prof. Plante noted all people, not just clergy, have a remarkable ability to compartmentalize the dark part of their lives. But priests and bishops carry an extra burden that makes their personal feelings all the more severe. “Their standards for behaviour, and even for thought, are much, much higher and so when they fall they really fall big,” he said.

    He said when priests turn up at his office they feel humiliated, embarrassed and even suicidal. But some, he said, have so lost their moral compass that they come in “kicking and screaming” even after they are found out and have no choice but to find help. “No one wakes up one morning and says, ‘I think I’ll start looking at child porn.’ It’s a gradual slide and with these guys they simply forget how to ask for help.”

    Lahey’s settlement with the abuse victims in his diocese had been considered particularly compassionate. It allowed for victims to receive restitution without the second indignity of a public trial. It meant those who were abused would not have to be subjected to humiliating cross-examinations by defence lawyers.

    The bishop acknowledged the $15-million settlement would be crushing for a relatively poor diocese like Antigonish and it would take years for the member parishes to pay off the bill. “I think parishioners would want us to do the right thing,” he told the Cape Breton Post. “I think that’s the overriding consideration.”

    Even after Lahey’s precipitous fall, Mr. McKiggan, the Halifax lawyer, said it does not diminish what he did for victims of clergy abuse. “I don’t need to reconcile the two things,” he said. “We don’t if the same result would have been achieved if Lahey was not on the other side of the negotiating table. We’ll never know. Except it was the right thing to do and it was very unusual. “But cases like his just go to show you can never know what’s really going on with someone.”