Priest sexual assault allegations civil case starts in Vancouver

Church lawyer calls case an isolated assault, nothing to do with greater Catholic church

A 42-year-old case of allegations of sexual assault by a Kamloops priest against a grieving woman and the diocese’s responsibility in the situation is not a case of determining damages but how much those damages will be, BC Supreme Court heard Oct. 7.

“This is a clear-cut, simple, civil, sexual assault case,” diocese lawyer John Hogg told the court.

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Rosemary Anderson alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim the sexual abuse at the hands of Father Erlindo “Lindo” Molon, now 86, started when she was 26 when she sought solace after her father’s death. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.

Anderson was working as a diocese teacher at the time.

Molon now has dementia and has no role in the case. Justice David Crossin heard Molon has denied Anderson’s claims.

Anderson’s lawyer Sandra Kovacs told the court Molon, a co-pastor at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kamloops, misused his position of power and trust in the alleged assaults in 1976 and 1977.

Molon “raped” Anderson 75-100 times, Kovacs said, suggesting Hogg was minimizing her client’s case.

And, Kovacs said, Anderson went to then-Kamloops Bishop Adam Exert,laterarchbishop of Vancouver, to ask for help.

“Bishop Exner was Father Molon’s direct superior,” Kovacs said, adding church law required him to investigate the allegations.

“Exner concluded, in his own words, that he ‘had to do something about’ Molon, Kovacs said.

She said the case “demands punitive damages.”

She said rumours about Molon and other women kept coming and that Exner had called him ‘promiscuous’ and a ‘playboy.’

However, she said, Molon was allowed to remain but was later removed and left Canada.

Kovacs said Exner’s interest was preventing a scandal.

Much of the hearing Oct. 7 centered on the admissibility in court of an expert report from Father Thomas Doyle.

“He says Bishop Exner failed to follow canon law and continued the church approach to covering up sexual abuse,” Kovacs said.

She said the report would give Crossin an insight into the church’s history of how it has responded to sexual abuse cases through history.

Hogg told Crossin he should not allow Doyle’s report as evidence, calling it biased.

He said the report is a history of sexual abuse in the Catholic church, and part of Doyle’s campaign to ‘get’ the church.

He said that history was irrelevant to the period of events in Kamloops.

“The issue is what period is covered by vicarious liability,” Hogg said.

“It’s his right to admit liability on the first day of trial,” Kovacs said.

Crossin said the issues are the time frame, liability and “nature and extent of the damages.”

Hogg urged Crossin to throw out the expert report, saying Doyle was assuming the judge’s role in trying the facts and interpreting Exner’s role

“We’re talking about a little old bishop in Kamloops,” he said. “If the court wants to read a history of the church, it can do so.”

Crossin suggested the lawyers get together and redact sections of the report deemed inappropriate but wound up doing it himself.

He said the report should give him information on the Roman Catholic Church, its hierarchy, legal system, history and response to sexual abuse by clerics as well as a system for reporting and recording such abuses.

As such, Crossin removed sections he said were not objective or balanced enough to give him guidance without advocating a position or urging conclusions upon him.

“The report is replete with opinion and conclusion,” he said.

“Much of the report has no place in a courtroom,” he later added. “The report can be redacted to address these shortfalls.”

Crossin heard Anderson had wanted to go to medical school at Dalhousie University in Halifax but could not handle the entrance process due to the self-esteem issues lingering from her alleged treatment by Molon.

Anderson will testify Oct. 8 about her alleged experiences with Molon.

“The plaintiff will testify she was banned from the diocese,” Kovacs said.

Exner is expected to testify next week.

More to come.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

@jhainswo

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