Priests appeal $2.5M award in sex abuse case

May 24, 2018

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Less than a month after a Toronto judge awarded a Sudbury man $2.5 million for compensation for the abuse he endured at the hands of a Catholic priest, lawyers for the church announced they were appealing the verdict.

In a statement on their website, the Basilian Fathers write they don't believe the monetary award is “legally sound or justified.”

Specifically, they are appealing the $500,000 awarded in punitive damages and $1.58 million in lost income.

“The Basilian Fathers are not appealing the awards for general and aggravated damages, nor for the amount awarded for counselling costs,” the statement said.

“Those amounts will be paid to Mr. MacLeod shortly.”

The case centred on Father William Hodgson Marshall, who was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period. Marshall, who worked in Rochester, Toronto, Windsor, Sudbury, and Sault Ste. Marie, was reported a total of six times over his career but continued in his role as a priest and teacher.

He died in 2014.

The Basilians are a Roman Catholic religious order of priests who operate on three continents, with their headquarters in Toronto. MacLeod was a student at St. Charles College high school in Sudbury from 1963-1967.

The statement from the Basilians said when MacLeod first brought forward his claim in 2012, “the Basilian Fathers accepted full responsibility for the actions of Hodgson Marshall, and continue to be committed to providing support to the victims of abuse, as well as ensuring that policies and protocols are in place that support the eradication of sexual abuse.

“As Mr. MacLeod made his circumstances known throughout the course of his lawsuit, the Basilian Fathers focused on efforts to fairly compensate Mr. MacLeod. They think the appellate court can best make a final determination of this compensation.”

And in a statement released late Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Basilians, Fr. Thomas Rosica, said the order is "committed to providing support to victims of abuse and ensuring that policies and protocols are firmly in place that support the eradication of sexual abuse. We have always focused on efforts to fairly compensate Mr. MacLeod.

"We trust that the appellate court can best make a final determination of this compensation."

But lawyers for MacLeod described the decision to appeal as proof that the priests are “unapologetic and unrepentant.

“Now 27 days (after the ruling), and only a few days short of their appeal deadline, the Basilians opted for more litigation instead of reconciliation against the 68-year-old man who as a youth was sexually abused by one of their own,” says the release from Rob Talach, of Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers.

“Shockingly, it was disclosed in the trial that the Basilians had in fact received at least three complaints of sexual misconduct by Father Marshall before he was assigned to St. Charles College and another three afterwards.”

MacLeod is quoted as saying in the release that the Basilians appear to have learned nothing.

“Once again the Basilians have shown their true colours,” MacLeod said in the statement. “When faced with a judgment carefully considered by six citizens of the community do they say mea culpa and ask for forgiveness for their sins? No, they act like a corporate entity and appeal the decision.

“But they according to their own words are supposed to have a higher calling then just being a profit centre. Because of their higher calling they pay no taxes. When 'higher calling' organizations act like profit centres they should lose their tax exempt status and be treated like any other corporation.”

Published on May 23, 2018

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