Settlement Cheques Coming

By DAVENE JEFFREY Staff Reporter

The first settlement cheques to victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Antigonish are expected to go out next month.

“For most people, it’s not about the money,” said Halifax lawyer John McKiggan, who represents a number of the victims. “It’s about the accountability and the responsibility.”

But for at least one abuse survivor, the cheque coming his way is not enough.

“I’ve suffered all my life,” said the man, who did not want to be identified. “It’s not right. . . . Nobody knows what I went through.”

The $15-million settlement, which was certified by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge, is to compensate anyone known to have been sexually assaulted by a priest of the Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Antigonish since Jan. 1, 1950. The settlement was announced in September 2009.

About $12 million is to go to damages, about $400,000 for counselling and the rest for legal and administrative costs.

The settlements that have been reached will be paid out in instalments because the diocese is still trying to raise the money, McKiggan said Wednesday.

When the settlement was announced, it was believed that up to 70 people would likely receive a share.

At the time the settlement was reached, there was no way to tell how many victims would turn up, McKiggan said. In theory, if only a few victims had come forward, some of the $12 million would have been returned to the diocese, he said.

Some abuse survivors are still being interviewed, but many have had their cases heard and have had dollar amounts allotted to them. But because of the number of victims, which is said to have grown to about 140, some people have seen their awards adjusted, the lawyer said.

“It looks now, because there are so many survivors . . . (that the claims are) likely to exceed the pot that the court has ordered the diocese to raise,” McKiggan said.

The abuse survivor who spoke to The Chronicle Herald expressed disappointment and anger that the amount he was first told he would be receiving is going to be reduced so more victims can be compensated. The man said he will now receive 40 per cent less.

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