Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

May 8, 2009

Woman Received $1.75M for Sexual Abuse by Priest

by Dave Chidley, The Canadian Press

LONDON, Ont. - A woman who was sexually abused by a priest in southwestern Ontario has been awarded $1.75 million to settle a civil lawsuit.

Lou Ann Soontiens, of Chatham, Ont., was among 47 woman that Rev. Charles Sylvestre pleaded guilty in 2006 to sexually assaulting over four decades.

Sylvestre, a parish priest in London, Sarnia, Chatham, Windsor and Pain Court, died in prison just months into a three-year sentence.

Soontiens' lawyers call the settlement a "full measure of justice" after she endured five years of childhood sexual abuse, a related abortion and decades of living with the effects of abuse.

The case, which Soontiens launched three years ago, was settled within days of the start of the trial with the Roman Catholic Diocese of London.

Lawyer Robert Talach calls the settlement, reached Tuesday, the "largest settlement of an individual sexual abuse case in Canadian history."

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