A court in Nova Scotia in Canada has approved a $10-million settlement with the Roman Catholic Church relevant to a class-action lawsuit versus clergy members in the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.
The case alleged that priests in the archdiocese committed sexually assaulted children over several decades.
Details of the Settlement
According to a report by MSN, Justice Christa Brothers of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court green-lit the multimillion-dollar settlement on Monday. The news outlet said that most victims are now seniors, with the sexual abuse beginning in the early 1950s.
Most Rev. Brian J. Dunn, the archbishop of the Halifax-Yarmouth diocese, issued a statement Monday following the Supreme Court announcement, which came four years after the lawsuit was filed in court.
"While the class-action suit is a constant reminder of the damage and great hurt that has been inflicted on individuals by members of the clergy, it is necessary to provide an opportunity for justice and healing for all victims. It is a hard thing to do, but it is the right thing to do," Archbishop Dunn said.
The high-ranking prelate added that the archdiocese 'does not tolerate any acts of sexual abuse, whether committed in the past, present, or future.'
John McKiggan, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, disclosed that the 90 survivors would receive anywhere between $30,000 to $350,000 from the settlement money. He added that they have already connected with several individuals who expressed their desire to be part of the class-action suit.
McKiggan explained that they used data from the American College of Catholic Bishops and expert evidence to determine the estimated number of potential claimants. The report said that the recently approved settlement excludes the 50 lawsuits in the past that the archdiocese has already settled.
The class-action suit's current main plaintiff is Steven Gallant.
Gallant said he was only 14 when a priest sexually abused him in the 1970s. He added that he was serving as an altar boy then.
The priest who reportedly assaulted Gallant was eventually found guilty of the crime.
The previous lead plaintiff was Douglas Champagne during the first filing of the case on Aug. 2, 2018.
Champagne said that Fr. George Epoch (now deceased) sexually abused him in the 1960s. Father Epoch belonged to the Jesuits and was the former pastor of the Canadian Martyrs parish.
The report noted that champagne later replaced Gallant as lead plaintiff to prevent a rift between the archdiocese and the Jesuit order.
Process of Settlement Claims
Individuals who wish to be included in the list of eligible claimants are given a year to contact the authorities and file their claim. The claimants may begin filing their claim in January 2023.
"The judge wanted to start the clock ticking as soon as possible. There will be no appeal because all of the parties consented to this agreement," McKiggan explained.
The article bared that the Yarmouth episcopal corporation under the archdiocese will shoulder $1.85 million. Its Halifax counterpart will pay $8.15 million to the claimants.