MONTREAL (ChurchMilitant.com) - In the largest sex abuse payout in Quebec's history, a court in the province is ordering a $30-million settlement for clergy sex abuse victims.
A class action settlement between the Clerics of Saint Viator (CSV), or the Viatorians, and a Montreal rehabilitation center for the deaf, reached last week before a September trial was scheduled to begin, will distribute the money among 150 victims of clerical sex abuse. According to Robert Kugler, lawyer for the victims, "Quebec is the largest amount ever obtained under such a class action."
Kugler believes the settlement was the best option for both parties, as the defendants were "well aware of the proof that we were going to be making at this trial through victims, through abusers who are still alive, and through experts."
While Kugler believes other victims may be added to the number in the future, the settlement is a lump sum, an estimated $21.9 million in U.S. dollars, which will not be increased should more confirmed victims come forward. Those who have not yet come forward will have until September 2 to do so, or will forfeit a potential share of the settlement, according to the judgment of the Superior Court of Quebec.
Of the victims that joined the class action lawsuit, Kugler believes the settlement "will allow them some peace of mind, that it will allow them to turn the page, and will allow them to improve their lives going forward."
The abuses in question took place over the course of more than two decades, from 1940 to 1982. Including the then-director general of the Montreal Institute for the Deaf, there are 38 confirmed clerics responsible for the molestation of the 150 male victims. Only a few of the accused were living when the suit was brought forward in 2010.
The organization, founded in 1848 by the French religious institute Clerics of St. Viator, has been operated by the Institut Raymond-Dewar since the 1980s.
The case follows a recent settlement that had previously been the largest payout in Quebec history. In 2014, the Redemptorist religious order agreed to pay $20 million to victims molested by members of the order from 1960 through 1987. The students, all post-pubescent boys, had been abused while studying at various Redemptorist schools within Quebec. Multiple victims claim they had been threatened with expulsion if they were to speak out. The confirmed perpetrators were nine priests, six of whom died before the court battle; they were convicted of molesting more than 70 students.