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June 11, 2009

Ottawa Man Sues Catholic Priest For Sexual Abuse

by Brendan Kennedy, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — A Ottawa man, 40, who was sexually molested by his parish priest more than 25 years ago is suing the priest and the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa for $2 million.

The man, who can only be identified as "Alex" due to a publication ban from the original trial, filed a statement of claim with the Ontario Superior Court Tuesday.

The claim names Dale Crampton, a former pastor at St. Maurice Church, and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Ottawa as defendants. It charges that Crampton's actions and the archdiocese's negligence caused Alex mental and emotional suffering, and impaired his opportunities to enjoy a normal adolescence and adulthood, among other damages.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese refused comment Wednesday, and said Ottawa's archbishop, Terrence Prendergast, was not available. "Any comments by the archdiocese, if any, will be made once the press reports are out," said Ginette Chaumont.

Crampton, who served at St. Maurice for nine years and was also a school trustee in the late 1970s, pleaded guilty in December 1986 to indecently assaulting seven altar boys, between the ages of 10 and 14, from 1973 to 1982.

The assaults occurred at various church rectories and at Crampton's cottage in West Carleton, Ont., and consisted mainly of Crampton fondling the boys' genitals. Crampton did not threaten or physically injure the victims.

Crampton was diagnosed with alcoholism and pedophilia — with a preference for boys — and was originally given a suspended sentence, with no jail time, placed on probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric counselling. An appeal of that sentence was upheld in June 1987, and Crampton was sentenced to eight months in jail.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Alex's lawyer, Robert Talach, read a statement which said that in 1982, Alex was a boy who was defined by his interests in the Roman Catholic Church and hockey. He was an altar server with strong religious beliefs, and one night was invited by Crampton to the rectory to watch a hockey game with him on TV.

"Alex will always remember that night," Talach said, "not because of the hockey game he viewed, but because as he sat in front of that television, frozen with disbelief, a highly trusted and revered person in his life sexually molested him."

Alex, a father who still lives in Ottawa, said it was only recently that he felt strong enough to come forward "to do what I feel is the right thing to do." He said it was important for him to confront his personal demons "head-on" in order to move on with his life, and to encourage any other victims to come forward.

Talach said Crampton's current whereabouts is unknown.

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