11 Jan 2011

Canadian Supreme Court rules woman's lawsuit against Catholic Church can proceed despite expired time limit

CBC News - Canada October 29, 2010

Quebecer can sue church for abuse: top court

Canada's highest court said in a ruling Friday that an appeal should be allowed in the case of Shirley Christensen, and that the Quebec Superior Court must reassess the evidence in her lawsuit against her former priest and the Catholic Church.

The case involves sex abuse of Christensen of Quebec City by a priest that occurred more than 25 years before a civil lawsuit was filed in 2007. The Quebec Superior Court had dismissed the action on the grounds that it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

Christensen's lawyer, Sébastien Grammond, told CBC News the court ruling means the civil lawsuit against the priest and the Catholic Church can proceed.

"She can sue them and then there will be a trial," he said, adding that his colleague, Alain Arsenault, had spoken to Christensen, who was said to be relieved by the ruling.

"This case highlights the need for a change in the law in Quebec," Grammond added. "If the law in Quebec said the same thing [elsewhere in Canada] where there's no limitations for this kind of claim, then we wouldn't have this debate."

Christensen was only six years old in the late 1970s when Rev. Paul-Henri Lachance of the Sacré-Coeur parish in Quebec City began molesting her. The sex abuse continued for two years.

When Christensen was eight, she told her parents, but when they complained to the diocese, they were told not to go to police. The parents agreed and Lachance was moved to a different parish.

In 2009, Lachance pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges against Christensen and was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Christensen, now 36, tried twice to sue, claiming $250,000 in damages. Both times the Quebec courts said she had waited too long.

[read the Supreme Court ruling at]: http://scc.lexum.umontreal.ca/en/2010/2010scc44/2010scc44.html

Victims ask for cut of profits at St. André mass

The Supreme Court ruling comes one day before a high mass ceremony celebrating the canonization of St. André in Montreal.

Brother André was born Alfred Bessette in Saint-Grégoire d'Iberville, Que., in 1845 and became the Roman Catholic Church's first Canadian-born male saint on Oct. 17.

As many as 50,000 people are expected to attend the mass at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

Some victims of abuse perpetrated by pedophile priests are asking for a cut of the profits from the high mass.

With tickets costing $5, the Catholic Church stands to collect $250,000, said the Association of Victims of Priests and the Committee of Pedophile Victims at Collège Notre-Dame, the two groups representing victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The celebration of Bessette's canonization is a perfect occasion for the church to reach out to abuse victims, recognize them officially and offer compensation, the groups said.

But money collected at Saturday's mass will benefit St. Joseph's Oratory, the shrine St. André built from the donations he received from people who said he had cured them.

Donations continued to pour in long after his death in 1937.

This article was found at:



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