Charges Could Affect Claims

October 2, 2009

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Church may feel pressure to settle lawsuit, says lawyer for alleged victims A multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Catholic dioceses of Halifax and Yarmouth may be resolved more quickly in light of stunning new child pornography charges against Bishop Raymond Lahey, says an Ontario lawyer.

The charges, combined with a recent $15-million settlement in a separate class-action suit against the Antigonish diocese for sexual abuse by some of its priests, could help expedite the case, Aaron Lealess, of the London, Ont., law firm Ledroit Beckett, said Thursday.

"Legally it (the charges and the settlement) has nothing to do with it," said Mr. Lealess, whose firm is acting on behalf of several men including brothers Del and Kenneth Boudreau. "But practically . . . it may put some pressure on the diocese . . . now."

Del and Kenneth Boudreau claim repeated sexual abuse by Rev. Adolphe LeBlanc, a Wedgeport priest who died in the 1970s. Del Boudreau said Thursday that it might be good to have his day in court. "People say, ‘You’re doing it for money?’ I don’t give a (hoot) about money," said the 69-year-old retired insurance brokerage owner.

"I might want it to go court anyhow, so everything comes out in public, (where) you have to describe (it) in every detail," he said in an interview from his home in Bell Neck, near Tusket. Del Boudreau, whose claim will be filed shortly by Mr. Lealess, said he stepped forward to chronicle his own abuse, in part, to help support his brother Kenneth.

So far, three claims, at $2 million apiece for Kenneth and Raymond H. Boudreau and a man who is known only as "H.W.M." have been filed in court. Del and Kenneth Boudreau are not related to Raymond H. Boudreau. Another seven men have been in talks with the Ontario law firm as well, and it’s expected they’ll also be seeking up to $2 million each, said the lawyer.

Halifax diocese Archbishop Anthony Mancini was appointed apostolic administrator for the Yarmouth diocese, and became temporarily apostolic administrator for the Antigonish diocese after Bishop Lahey announced his sudden resignation from that diocese last weekend. At the time, church administrators said they had no idea of the charges he faces.

Attempts to reach Archbishop Mancini were not successful Thursday. Bishop Lahey, who’s charged with possession and importation of child pornography, turned himself in to Ottawa police Thursday. He was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant after Canada Border Services agents allegedly found images of "concern" on his laptop computer during a random check at the airport on Sept. 15.

They confiscated the computer and released the bishop, but charged him on Sept. 25

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