Victim frustrated

Barb Sweet
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Some sex abuse cases involving priest settled

An Ontario woman whose son claims he was sexually abused by priest  Jim Hickey says the civil cases against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s have dragged out too long.

“Please God, I hope there’s a hell and he’s there,” the woman said of Hickey.

“Nobody knows how this has torn us.”

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. John’s. He got involved in civil action about a decade ago and never told his mother about the abuse until later in life.

“I was too embarrassed to say anything,” the man said in  a phone interview.

“How do you tell a parent that? … This guy was a sick individual.”

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. John’s, has been able to settle four files, all related to Hickey, said lawyer Harry Mugford, adding while it’s not the ideal situation, it’s 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. John’s that involve alleged abuse by priests. Another 10 are against the Episcopal Corp. of St. George’s on the west coast.

Uninsured cases have been quicker to settle, as the legal wrangling in St. John’s not only involves victims and the church, but the church and the insurer.

Case appealed

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. John’s 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. John’s lawyer Philip Buckingham, the Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s is seeking leave from the Supreme Court of Canada — the country’s top court — 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.

Organizations: Episcopal, Supreme Court of Canada, Stack and Associates Guardian Insurance Co. of Canada

Geographic location: Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Marshall Art
    April 17, 2014 - 19:41

    I can remember going to The Bella Vista on Torbay Rd., for a night out, and then going to the Pioneer Restaurant for a hot roast beef sandwich. I can remember seeing 'Priest' Jim Hickey sitting in a booth with several young boys but we saw nothing wrong with that. After all, he was a' Priest'. We had no idea that he was a perverted child molester. The RC Church will drag this out until all the claimants are either dead or suffering from dementia.