A lawyer representing sex abuse victims in southwest Nova Scotia has negotiated settlements with six victims of two Roman Catholic priests, CBC News has learned.
The Yarmouth diocese has agreed to pay $1.5 million, to be divided among the six victims, lawyer Paul Ledroit said.
"Our Supreme Court of Canada has set the lead in what we call vicarious liability — liability of employers for the actions of their employees. We have one of the best Supreme Courts in the world," he said.
The abuse took place in the 1950s and 1960s. The victims were between the ages of three and 16 at the time of the abuse — four men were victims of priest Adolphe LeBlanc, two women were victims of priest Eddie Theriault.
Both men, who were Roman Catholic priests, are now dead.
Ledroit said the settlement process was the toughest of his career.
"I have done many, many, many — probably well over 100 mediations in sexual abuse cases and in other cases, thousands of mediations. I have never had such difficult mediations," he said.
Ledroit said the mediations in these latest cases took place last Friday and ended on Monday. He was unable to settle two cases, which now may go to trial.
"I have to be careful because if my client receives, say, $10,000 for a case that's worth $400,000 or $500,000, that's revictimization," Ledroit told CBC News on Wednesday.
The lawyer now has nine outstanding cases against the Yarmouth diocese.
Victims speak out
One of LeBlanc's victims, Raymond Boudreau, said he is relieved to be done with the process but he's disappointed by the small financial settlement. Boudreau joined the lawsuit against the diocese two years ago.
"I will never, never, ever forget and forgive," he said.
Boudreau, 67, said the abuse started when he was 11 years old. About twice a month, he said, LeBlanc forced him into sessions of kissing and mutual masturbation.
"It was so confusing. Here was this holy man, supposedly, a priest, who was always preaching anti-sex," he said. "When I got to be 13 and 14, I kept saying to myself, 'Some day I'll be old enough, big enough and brave enough to say, no more.'"
The abuse lasted until Boudreau was 15 years old.
"I looked him in the face and I said, 'No more. You will never touch me again.' And then I walked away and that was the end of it," he said.
"It did bother me for many years and finally I put in my head … that I should not feel guilty about anything that happened, it was not my fault. It was something that was all beyond my control when I was 11 to 15 years old. Today, I'm glad it's over."
Boudreau said he believes there are dozens of people who were victimized by LeBlanc who have yet to come forward.
"I know there is more victims. I know of half a dozen more just here in Wedgeport," he said. "It's my speculation, but I would believe that there are many other boys involved. Probably in the hundreds."
A spokeswoman for Archbishop Anthony Mancini, who is the administrator of the Yarmouth diocese, said the archbishop would not comment until all the cases against the church are resolved.
"The diocese of Yarmouth has been facing more than 20 cases of sexual abuse," said Marilyn Sweet in a news release.
"While some cases have been resolved through mediation, there are more to be negotiated though this process in the near future. It is important to allow the process to be followed for each case."