Lawsuits Launched Against Jailed Priest

March 28, 2012

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Four Sudbury men are launching civil lawsuits against a priest and former Catholic schoolteacher who has already pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault.

Father William Hodgson Marshall, who is now approaching his 90s, is currently serving a two-year prison term for the abuse of 17 young people between the 1950s and 1980s, crimes to which he pleaded guilty.

At least one of those incidents of abuse occurred at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto in the 1950s.

On Wednesday, four more men stepped forward at a press conference in Sudbury, alleging abuse at the hands of the man who was their Grade 9 teacher at St. Charles College in Sudbury in the ’60s.

Two of the men are Denis Beland and William Palmer. Two others cannot be identified.

All four men are now in their 50′s said their lawyer, Robert Talach, a partner with London, Ont.-based firm Ledroit Beckett.

“It has ripped a huge hold in their lives,” Talach said of the men who are coming forward with this suit. “Imagine a ship hitting an iceberg. They are the Titanics of their classes. They have sunk. They’ve gone nowhere. They’ve floundered. They’ve had difficulties; alcohol, mental issues, depression, anxiety, this has crippled them.”

In addition to naming Marshall in the suit, the four men are also naming other parties who were either employers or supervisors to Marshall in previous years.

Talach said his clients are hoping to seek justice against those who may have aided in their abuse and they are asking anyone who might have more information about Marshall to step forward.

“We are looking for pieces of the puzzle, the puzzle of Father Hodgson Marshall,” Talach said in a statement at Wednesday’s press conference. “Though Marshall himself has been convicted and sentenced, the totality of what went on has yet to be determined.”

Talach said his firm is seeking former students, parents, teachers, staff and clergymen from both St. Charles College and from St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Marie, where Marshall worked from 1978-1985.

“If these people have got up for the last 20 or 30 years and looked themselves in the mirror and know that they let kids be abused, I think it’s time that they cleared their conscience and tell us,” Talach said.

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