More sex abuse victims seek their share of Saint-Croix settlement
Published Wednesday, November 9, 2011 7:41PM EST
A proposed $18-million settlement to sexual abuse victims of the Saint-Croix congregation has opened a floodgate of new complaints from more alleged victims.
Once a very powerful Catholic order in Quebec, the congregation is under attack over growing accusations of sex abuse from men ranging in age from their 40s to 70s.
When the settlement was announced last month, about 80 former students had come forward with tales of sex abuse in several institutions, including College Notre-Dame in Cote-des-Neiges during the since the 1950s.
Many of the victims and alleged victims appeared in court Wednesday to inquire about their share of the settlement.
The Sainte-Croix, or Holy Cross, congregation has agreed to pay the settlement, recognizing that some teachers and school employees sexually abused an undisclosed number of students when they were children.
A judge is now ensuring the settlement is legal and respects everyone's rights.
"We've been working so hard and for so long. If we need a few weeks to make sure everything is settled correctly, well why not?" said one alleged victim who preferred to remain anonymous.
The number of victims has now mushroomed to 215 from 80, with lawyers fielding new calls every week.
Victims' lawyer Alain Arseneault said he suspects many more will never speak up.
"For one victim who speaks up, nine never will, usually because they're too ashamed," he said. That reluctance to come forward is one reason the court may ensure there's money left over for those who might change their minds and come forward later.
"The money won't change the facts," said lawyer Gilles Gareau. "It will just bring some comfort."
The congregation said it's eager to pay the settlement and move on.
I hope this settlement will be approved by the Superior Court," said Arseneault. "I'm very optimistic that the outcome will be positive for all the members and all the parties involved."