Former students of the Montreal Institute for the Deaf say they want justice after alleged abuse at the hands of priests.

About 200 people gathered outside the former Institute for the Deaf at 7400 St. Laurent St. Sunday to say want the Clerics of St. Viateur to held accountable.

In what could turn out to be one of the largest cases of sexual abuse against deaf children, 60 former students are now pursuing a class action lawsuit against the religious order, which includes 28 priests and six other employees.

Each victim is seeking $100,000 in damages for abuse they say dates back as far as the 1940s.

So far, the Clerics of St. Viateur have simply issued a statement saying that if anything has happened, they regret it.

The graphic memories are imprinted on Daniel Cormier’s mind.


Cormier said that as an 11-year-old student at the Montreal Institute for the Deaf, a priest would force him to keep his shower door open and masturbate

“I was abused three to four times a week over a 4 month period by a single priest,” he said.“I feel stained forever. When I look at members of religious communities, I continually think about this. It doesn't go away.”

Cormier believes he's just one of hundreds of young boys with hearing and speech impairments who endured years of rape and abuse between 1840 and 1982.

“I was sexually abused in the confessional by a priest,” said another alleged victim, Daniel Trottier.

Men like Trottier and Cormier are speaking out now about the institution where they learned to communicate because, they say, back then, they were silenced.

Even Serge Laroche, a man who was a schoolteacher at the time said he suffered abuse, said he felt powerless against the powerful order.

“At the time it was such a big taboo,” he said. “Nobody could talk out about. (It was) just not feasible to talk about it,” he said.

Believing the worst is now behind them, many are speaking up in hopes that unity will make them heard.

It’s time for the religious order to accept blame, said Carlo Tarini of the Victims of Priests Association of Quebec.

“The religious communities involved -- the Clerics of St. Viateur -- they must own up to what they've done,” he said.