Sex Abuse Victims Seek Millions in Compensation

April 9, 2008

By: Tina Peplinskie, The Pembroke Daily Observer

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An act of contrition from the Catholic Diocese of Pembroke will help one of Monsignor Bernard Prince's abuse victims deal with the pain he has endured for the past 24 years.

The man, now in his 40s, said nothing will change what he's endured since being sexually molested at 17 by the once well-respected priest, but he hopes coming forward will encourage others to do the same.

The victim, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, can only be identified as T.A.Y. He spoke Monday during a media conference in Pembroke announcing a $22-million lawsuit against Msgr. Prince and the Diocese of Pembroke.

The civil suit filed by lawyer Rob Talach of the London law firm of Ledroit Beckett names the diocese alleging it was aware of allegations against Msgr. Prince as early as 1968 but did nothing.

This is a statement of claim only and has not yet been proven in court.

According to Mr. Talach, the 11 victims and their families are seeking answers to a number of questions as well as financial compensation.

The victims believe the diocese was aware of an accusation against Msgr. Prince involving a boy at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Pembroke in 1968, Mr. Talach said.

Msgr. Prince was found guilty of 13 counts of sexual abuse in January. He is now serving a four-year sentence in Millhaven Correctional Institution, a federal penitentiary in Bath, Ontario.

Ordained in 1963, Msgr. Prince served in Wilno from 1985 to 1986 and held various administration positions in catholic institutions in Ottawa and Toronto before moving to the Vatican in Rome in 1992. He remained there until his retirement in 2004.

At the media conference T.A.Y. said he believes he could have been spared the anguish and suffering if the diocese had acted earlier.

At the conclusion of Msgr. Prince's January trial, the Catholic Diocese issued the following statement.

"The Diocese of Pembroke wishes to express our sincere concern and compassion to the people who brought forth charges concerning incidents of sexual abuse by Msgr. Bernard Prince. We recognize the pain and anguish with which you and your families are struggling. We hope that the disclosure in court will now assist you in beginning a healing process that will bring about some measure of closure."

Each of the 11 men involved in the suit is seeking $2 million in damages for pain and suffering, economic loss, money for counselling and medication.

The next step in the process will be dictated by the reaction of the diocese, according Mr. Talach. He is hoping for an out-of-court settlement but is prepared to go to trial.

Responding to the lawsuit, diocese spokesman Bruce Pappin said the diocese stands behind its earlier comments.

"We are primarily concerned for the healing of the victims," he said.

Mr. Talach said his law firm believes other members of the community may have information about Msgr. Prince and he encourages anyone to contact his office

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