$30M settlement approved for survivors of abuse at school for the deaf
Quebec Superior Court has approved a $30-million settlement in systemic cases of serial abuse at a school for the deaf.
The settlement is by far the highest amount ever paid to Quebec for sexual assault against minors. Victims will recieve $200,000 over the next year.
The Clerics of St. Viateur ran Montreal Institute for the Deaf, where children as young as five were sexually abused and beaten by priests between 1940 and 1982.
In all, 38 abusers were identified, including 28 clerics, and to date more than 150 potential survivors have come forward.
Under the settlement, the Clerics of St. Viateur will contribute $20 million and the Raymond-Dewar Institue (which emerged from the Montreal Institute for the Deaf) will pay $10 million.
The religious order is believed to have real estate holdings and art work. The Raymond-Dewar Institute is now part of a government-run regional health agency.
"We hope that this settlement can not only help victims of our group, but also give confidence to other victims in our justice system," said Pierre Boivin, one of the attorneys who has handled the case on behalf of the survivors, in a statement.
Under the settlement, claims will be decided by André Forget, a retired Court of Appeal judge, who will have private and confidential meetings with the victims with the assistance of an official sign language interpreter.
The ruling also stipulates that the defendants will have no right to know the names of the victims and no right to challenge their claims.
Robert Kugler, a lawyer for the survivors, said the deaf students were particularly vulnerable.
"The fact that these individuals were deaf and had difficulty communicating, they were almost prisoners. They couldn't do anything about it. They had nobody to speak to. They were left to deal with it on their own, as many sexual abuse victims are, including those who can hear, but the consequences were likely greater for these individuals," said Kugler.
To make a claim, survivors must communicate with the lawyers handling the case. For more information, click here.
Survivors may also contact the Metropolitan Montreal Deaf Community Centre to obtain the assistance of a sign language interpreter. They will translate your account to the attorneys. For contact information, click here.
Claims must be made no later than Sept. 2. All communication with lawyers or the Metropolitan Montreal Deaf Community Centre is free and confidential.
To see the complete settlement agreement, click here.