The Montreal Gazette - Canada November 25, 2010
Quebec judge allows class-action against religious order
Dozens of ex-students allege they were abused
By SUE MONTGOMERY, The Gazette
A Superior Court Justice has given the go-ahead for former students of a Roman Catholic secondary school near Quebec City to sue the priests who allegedly sexually abused them.
Lawyer Pierre Boivin said it's the first time in Quebec a class-action suit has been filed against a religious order -Congregation du Tres-Saint-Redempteur -and the amount could reach into the millions of dollars.
So far, dozens of alleged victims of the former boarding school, Seminaire St. Alphonse, have come forward, but Boivin said he believes once word spreads, it could reach into the hundreds. "We think it's just the tip of the iceberg," he said.
The lead plaintiff in the suit is seeking $750,000 in damages for the sexual, emotional, physical and psychological abuse he says he suffered several times a week at the hands of a priest in charge of the students' dormitory.
Rev. Raymond-Marie Lavoie, 70, was arrested last December by the Surete du Quebec and charged with 18 sexual crimes involving 11 minors. His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 31 in Quebec City.
The suit covers all students of Seminaire Saint-Alphonse, in Ste. Anne de Beaupre, who were sexually abused by priests of the Congregation du Tres-Saint-Redempteur between 1960 and 1987. The priests had nothing to do with the school after 1987, and it is now a private school called College St. Alphonse.
The lead plaintiff, who attended the college between 1981 and 1985, alleges the abuse took place in the school's dormitory and in a vacation home used by the priests in St. Title des Caps.
The suit, which is asking for at least $100,000 in damages for each victim, alleges the priests conspired among themselves, discussing which students they would abuse.
At least five priests were involved in pedophilia at the school, which had between 200 and 250 students, the suit claims. One of the accused priests was Rev. Francois Plourde, the school's former director, who has since died.
Former students of College Notre Dame and College St. Cesaire, which was run by Brothers of Holy Cross, are awaiting authorization from Quebec Superior Court to sue their alleged abusers. Dozens of men have come forward, saying they were sexually abused by brothers teaching at the college, which was also a boarding school for boys.
Boivin said he's confident the Quebec City case will go to trial in the next couple of years.
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