LONDON, Ont. -- A former victim of notorious pedophile priest Charles Sylvestre has won a landmark victory in her quest for justice against the London diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.
Chatham woman Kelly Murphy-Myers, 41, was awarded a $610,000 judgment on Thursday as a result of her lawsuit against the diocese — the first lawsuit by a Sylvestre victim to reach trial.
Justice T. David Little wrote in his decision that the hierarchy of the diocese “had to know about Sylvestre’s propensities,” and was negligent in taking no or inadequate steps before appointing him pastor of the parish of St. Ursula’s in Chatham in 1968.
“There was a cover-up by the diocese. There was a cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church itself,” Little wrote. “The cover-up was for the benefit of the diocese and the Church, at the expense of the victim.”
The court heard that the abuse took place in the late 1970s, when Murphy-Myers was between the ages of seven and 10.
Her lawyer, Rob Talach, said the judge’s decision represents the highest level of court to award a female victim of abuse by a Catholic priest in Canadian history.
Talach said the decision will set a precedent for future judgments in abuse cases involving clergy.
Despite the award, Murphy-Myers said the case wasn’t about the money.
“It was about getting them to see, getting my voice heard — and the voices of all victims,” she said.
“For every voice that comes forward, there are 10 others too afraid to speak. So my voice is for those afraid to come forward.”