Today the highest Court in the country, the Supreme Court of Canada, rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s (the “Basilians”) bid for a further appeal of their damning legal defeat of over two years ago. It was way back on April 26, 2018 when a Toronto civil jury delivered a judgment in the total sum of $2,570,181 which included $500,000 in punitive damages. The Basilians are a Roman Catholic Religious Order of priests who operate on three continents, including in Canada and the United States, with their headquarters located in Toronto, Ontario.
The case involved the historical sexual abuse of Rod MacLeod, a student at St. Charles College high school in Sudbury from 1963-1967. The abuser was Father Hodgson Marshall, then a Basilian priest who in 2011 was ultimately convicted of abusing 17 young people over his 38 year career.
Shockingly, it was disclosed in the trial that the Basilians had in fact received at least three complaints of sexual misconduct by Father Marshall before he was assigned to St. Charles College. The Basilian pattern of response to such complaints appeared to simply be to transfer Marshall. The Basilian’s complicity in Marshall’s crimes made them responsible to pay the damning judgment; but they were not ready to pay that penance.
The Basilians appealed the matter to the Ontario Court of Appeal on grounds that the punitive damages and the income loss were excessive and incorrect. The Ontario Court of Appeal disagreed with the Basilians and upheld the jury verdict in their October 25, 2019 decision. Again the Basilians were not ready to acknowledge their wrongdoing and just days before Christmas, appealed $1.5 million of the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Today the Supreme Court of Canada rejected their leave to appeal application, essentially upholding the Ontario Court of Appeal by refusing to even look at the case any further.
The outcome is a victory for not only Mr. MacLeod but also all victims of sexual abuse in Canada. The law is now friendlier to victims and tougher on their perpetrators. Punitive damages or a civil fine for complicit institutions is now the law, as is a lowered legal test to prove income loss as a result of the sexual abuse. This also shows that a lone determined victim can take on the power, prestige and wealth of the Roman Catholic Church and win!
Rod’s comment is simply “I hope this final victory will give hope to other sexual abuse victims to come forward and seek justice through the Courts. It is possible to achieve justice in Canada.”
This entire legal battle is depicted in the TVO award winning documentary entitled “PREY”, directed and produced by Matt Gallagher and Cornelia Principe of Border City Pictures Inc.
Published on April 30, 2020