Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

May 8, 2009

Woman Repeatedly Abused By Catholic Priest Gets Record Settlement

by CBC News

An Ontario woman who was repeatedly raped by a Roman Catholic priest while she was a girl has received what is believed to be the largest individual settlement in a sexual abuse case in Canada — $2 million.

The victim, Lou Ann Soontiens, was in grade school when the abuse began at the hands of Rev. Charles Sylvestre. It continued for seven years.

Soontiens testified during Sylvestre's trial that at the age of 14 she was impregnated by the priest and that he arranged a botched abortion. She had to be rushed to hospital for emergency medical care.

Soontiens was one of nearly 70 young female victims of Sylvestre who came forward.

Settlements have been reached with more than 50 victims.

The priest was convicted on 47 counts of sexual assault in 2006. He was sentenced to three years in jail, but died in January 2007, just three months into his sentence.

Soontiens's civil case against the Roman Catholic Diocese of London was to start on May 11, but a few days ago the diocese offered to settle for $2 million, including court costs.

It's considered to be the largest individual award for sexual abuse ever in Canada.

At a news conference in London on Friday, Soontiens, 51, said the money will help her put her life back together.

"I cut my grass. I don't travel. I'm a homebody. I don't plan on changing at all, other than trying to heal a little bit more," she said.

Soontiens said she hopes her settlement spurs the diocese to come to terms with about 17 other women who were victims of Sylvester and are currently in negotiations.

Soontiens also told the news conference she is "happy that [Sylvestre] did die, because now I know he can't get me."

Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

October 8, 2021

What You Need To Know About Suing Your Insurance Company

A personal injury lawyer is your best support if you choose to sue your insurance company. Learn why and what the process looks like in our latest blog.

Read More
Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

September 24, 2021

A Guide to Income Replacement When You’re Injured

The financial burden of being unable to work due to an injury can be devastating. Our latest blog breaks down the types of claims that can help support you financially when you are not able to work.

Read More
Beckett Personal Injury Office In Downtown London

September 23, 2021

Clarity on Consent – Sexual Violence on Campus

The recent reports of sexual violence at Western University confirm what we already knew: sexual violence is an endemic on post-secondary school campuses and a culture shift is long overdue. At Beckett, we stand with survivors. To all survivors, we encourage you to make the choice that feels right to you. If you have been impacted by sexual or gender-based violence, supports are available.

Read More