Cornwall sex abuse victims given large settlements
Published Thursday, June 10, 2010 12:20PM EDT
Some victims of the Cornwall sex abuse scandal are receiving large financial settlements after decades of allegations that a cover-up of a pedophile ring existed in the eastern Ontario city, CTV Ottawa has learned.
The sex abuse scandal was uncovered in the early 1990s. A public inquiry ended in December 2009 after four years. The inquiry found the Catholic Church, police, the Ontario government and the legal system all failed to protect children from sexual predators.
Now, Ontario's attorney general has confirmed to CTV that several financial settlements have been reached with victims, and more lawsuits are outstanding.
Although confidentiality agreements could mean taxpayers will never learn the true cost of the settlements, a former MPP predicts the payouts will total tens of millions of dollars.
"I would look at somewhere between $70-100 million," said Garry Guzzo, a former Conservative MPP who blew the whistle on the scandal and pushed for a public inquiry.
"It's a lot of money coming from very few taxpayers, and the people of the Catholic Church are taxpayers."
While sources have told CTV the payouts are in the millions, alleged victim Steve Parisien says some individuals are getting less than $20,000.
"I think parishioners and taxpayers have a right to know how much has been paid out," he said.
A lawyer representing dozens of the victims wouldn't reveal how much money was paid. However, he confirmed several settlements have been reached with the Catholic diocese, the Ontario government and other Catholic organizations. There are also several cases in the works against the Children's Aid Society.
Cornwall's Catholic Diocese says it has settled all 16 of the lawsuits against the Catholic Church. The last lawsuit was settled a few weeks ago.
Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher says the total payouts from those lawsuits amount to $1.2 million. He adds none of those settlements involved confidentiality agreements.
"There's no doubt in my mind that these victims deserve this money," said Guzzo.
"You know the confidentiality agreement - never going to trial, never allowing it to become public - there's an element of hush money."
Although Parisien hasn't received a settlement, he is hoping to get some compensation for his experience.
He says while no amount of money will change his life, it will help validate what he went through.
"Just for my loss of wages - that's all I seek. I don't want nothing else from these people, they've done enough damage. And they have to sleep with themselves at night."
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem