CHATHAM — The Diocese of London has settled more than $1.5 million in lawsuits in connection with sexual abuse cases involving two former priests with connections to Chatham-Kent.
Rob Talach, of Ledroit Beckett Litigation Lawyers in London, said 10 sexual abuse lawsuits were settled after negotiations in January.
Nine cases involved deceased Father Lawrence C. Paquette, who reportedly sexually abused boys in Bothwell, Grande Pointe and St. Clair Beach, he said. The other case involved defrocked priest Barry Glendinning who is originally from Wallaceburg.
“We know of many other victims in the Grande Pointe area,” Talach said. “He was in Grande Pointe a long time and did a lot of damage.”
He said Paquette abused boys — mostly young boys between Grades 5 and 8, during confession.
“He generally fondled them, and he had an ear nibbling fetish that was reported consistently by every victim we talked to,” said Talach. “He would go to the school and boys would have to attend confession with him every month. And he would abuse them every month.”
THE ALLEGATIONS WERE NEVER PROVEN IN COURT.
In an interview Friday, one of the victims recalled being unable to tell his parents what was going on at school.
“You didn’t dare say anything to your parents because they would have called you a liar. He was a man sent from God,” said the Grand Pointe man, now 65.
“He’d feel you up. It was like it was part of his job,” he said. “You don’t trust too many people after that. You just shy away.”
Talach said many people don’t come forward because they fear the publicity, but it is actually a “very confidential process.”
The nine lawsuits involving Paquette’s victims were settled in two days last month. Individual settlements varied from less than $100,000 to about $315,000. There are two more lawsuits in the works related to Paquette, he said.
Paquette died in 1986. The diocese first heard allegations against him in 2008, said diocese spokesperson Mark Adkinson.
Talach said the diocese handled the Paquette cases a lot quicker than the claims involving victims of pedophile priest Charles Sylvestre, who abused more than 47 women in Chatham, Pain Court, London, Sarnia and Windsor.
“We’ve learned a lot through the process,” Adkinson said. “The goal is to reach fair and reasonable settlements as soon as possible.”
The case against Glendinning dated back to his first parish posting in Windsor during the mid 1960s.
Glendinning, who is retired and living in Toronto, was also found liable with the diocese in 2004 in a high-profile sexual abuse lawsuit involving the Swales brothers.
“We’re sorry for the hurt that these and other victims have suffered,” said Adkinson. “We encourage anyone who may have been harmed to come forward,” he said.