Some sex abuse cases involving priest settled
An Ontario woman whose son claims he was sexually abused by priest Jim‚ÄąHickey says the civil cases against the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John‚Äôs have dragged out too long.
‚ÄúPlease God, I hope there‚Äôs a hell and he‚Äôs there,‚ÄĚ the woman said of Hickey.
‚ÄúNobody knows how this has torn us.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs. He got involved in civil action about a decade ago and never told his mother about the abuse until later in life.
‚ÄúI was too embarrassed to say anything,‚ÄĚ the man said in a phone interview.
‚ÄúHow do you tell a parent that?‚Äą‚Ä¶ This guy was a sick individual.‚ÄĚ
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‚Äôs, has been able to settle four files, all related to Hickey, said lawyer Harry Mugford, adding while it‚Äôs not the ideal situation, it‚Äôs 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‚Äôs that involve alleged abuse by priests.‚ÄąAnother 10 are against the Episcopal Corp. of St. George‚Äôs on the west coast.
Uninsured cases have been quicker to settle, as the legal wrangling in St. John‚Äôs 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. John‚Äôs 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‚Äôs lawyer Philip Buckingham, the Episcopal Corp. of St. John‚Äôs is seeking leave from the Supreme Court of Canada ‚ÄĒ the country‚Äôs top court ‚ÄĒ 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.