Some sex abuse cases involving priest settled
An Ontario woman whose son claims he was sexually abused by priest JimâHickey says the civil cases against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. Johnâs have dragged out too long.
âPlease God, I hope thereâs a hell and heâs there,â the woman said of Hickey.
âNobody knows how this has torn us.â
Her son, who now also lives in Ontario, claims his life was ruined and mired in crime, drugs and alcohol in the aftermath of abuse by Hickey while he was a student in
St. Johnâs. He got involved in civil action about a decade ago and never told his mother about the abuse until later in life.
âI was too embarrassed to say anything,â the man said in a phone interview.
âHow do you tell a parent that?ââŠ This guy was a sick individual.â
In September 1988, Hickey pleaded guilty to 20 charges of sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault involving teenage boys. He was sentenced to five years in jail, and died in 1992 at the age of 59.
In the past 14 months, Stack and Associates, one of the firms involved in numerous civil cases against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. Johnâs, has been able to settle four files, all related to Hickey, said lawyer Harry Mugford, adding while itâs not the ideal situation, itâs progress.
He acknowledged the frustration of the clients, but also the complexity of the cases.
The firm has about 20 cases,
10 against the Episcopal Corp. of
St. Johnâs that involve alleged abuse by priests.âAnother 10 are against the Episcopal Corp. of St. Georgeâs on the west coast.
Uninsured cases have been quicker to settle, as the legal wrangling in St. Johnâs not only involves victims and the church, but the church and the insurer.
In evidence brought to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2011, Guardian Insurance Co. of Canada, in defending its case in the suits, claimed church leaders were aware prior to 1980 of allegations against Hickey and said the church is not acting in good faith in dealing with subsequent civil suits.
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador sided with the Episcopal Corp. of St. Johnâs in ordering the insurer to honour its policy based on a 1992 ruling to do so. But in 2013, the Court of Appeal ruled instead in favour of Guardian.
According to St. Johnâs lawyer Philip Buckingham, the Episcopal Corp. of St. Johnâs is seeking leave from the Supreme Court of Canada â the countryâs top court â for an appeal.
If that appeal is not granted, the trial to determine what church officials knew about the abuse and when they knew it will get underway after January 2015.