Antigonish Priest Sexual Abuse Class Action

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish, and Bishop Raymond Lahey as legal representative of the Diocese on behalf of persons who say they were sexually abused by priests from the Diocese between 1950 and 2008.

The class action, filed by Ronald Martin on behalf of other sexual abuse survivors, claims that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish , under instructions from the Pope had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.

Ronald Martin is the brother of David Martin, whose suicide note lead to a criminal investigation and charges of rape, buggery and indecent assault against former priest Hugh Vincent MacDonald involving more than 15 children in incidents spanning the 1960’s and 1970’s. You can read an open letter from Ronald Martin to other survivors of sexual abuse by priests from the Antigonish Diocese here.

The lawsuit claims that the Roman Catholic Church the Bishop and the Diocese sent priests from the Diocese for treatment for “sexual deviations”. The suit claims that the Defendants, following the instructions of the Pope, kept their knowledge of the priests’ sexual deviance secret and failed to warn or protect children within the Diocese. You can read a copy of the class action pleadings here.

The class action was filed by Halifax lawyer John McKiggan of the law firm McKiggan Hebert Lawyers.

“The priest abuse scandals across North America have raised serious questions of how these kinds of horrible crimes against children could happen again and again in parish after parish over several decades.Sexual abuse is a crime of secrecy. Perpetrators can only continue to prey upon children when they can do so without fear that their deviant behaviour will become public. This lawsuit alleges that there was a worldwide conspiracy of silence within the Roman Catholic Church and that the Church’s policy of secrecy resulted in sexually abusive priests in the Antigonish Diocese being able to molest children in the Diocese without fear of public exposure.

The law suit claims that the Church failed to take proper steps to protect children in the Diocese when it became aware of the abuse.

This class action is about holding the Diocese and the Catholic Church accountable for that inaction.” said McKiggan.

Fifteen years ago McKiggan filed lawsuits against the Antigonish Diocese after twin priests Clair Richard and Claude Richard were convicted of sexually assaulting more than a dozen boys in their parishes in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“Unfortunately, this is more of the same,” said McKiggan “The same sexually abusive priests; the same pattern of secrecy; the same lack of accountability.”

The lawsuit involves claims of sexual abuse by several priests from the Antigonish Diocese:

Father Hugh Vincent MacDonald
MacDonald was ordained by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish and served in various parishes in Pictou, Guysborough, Antigonish and Cape Breton from the 1960s through the 1980s. Hugh Vincent MacDonald was facing more than two dozen charges of sexual assaults against children and other members of his former parishes before he passed away in 2004.

Father Clair Richard
Clair Richard was ordained by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish and served in various parishes throughout Antigonish County and Cape Breton Island from the 1960s through the 1980s. Clair Richard has been convicted of several charges of sexual assaults against children in his former parishes while he was a parish priest.

Father Claude Richard
Claude Richard was ordained by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish and served in various parishes throughout Antigonish County and Cape Breton Island from the 1960s through the 1980s. Claude Richard has been convicted of several charges of sexual assaults against children in his former parishes while he was a parish priest.

Father James Mombourquette
Mombourquette was ordained by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish and served in various parishes throughout Antigonish County and Cape Breton Island from the 1960s through the 1980s. James Mombourquette pleaded guilty and was convicted of several charges of sexual assaults against children in his former parishes while he was a parish priest.

Father Frank McNeil
McNeil was ordained by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish and served in Port Hood and various parishes throughout the Antigonish Diocese.

Father Michael McNeil
McNeil was ordained by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish and served in St. Agnes parish in Little Dover, Cape Breton and other parishes throughout the Antigonish Diocese.

McKiggan Hebert Lawyers is accepting enquiries from residents of Nova Scotia who were sexually abused by a priest from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish. If you, or a member of your family, were a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, you may contact us for further information. For more information about the Cape Breton Priest Sexual Abuse Class Action call John McKiggan toll free at (888) 510-3577 or click here to receive an information package.

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