Mont d’youville: the collective action against the Sisters of Charity of Quebec permitted
The superior Court authorizes the collective action of hundreds of former students who say they have been abused during their stay at the orphanage in the Mont d’youville of Beauport, and, as to the faults of educators and those of the religious community of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec.
In its ruling made public Thursday, judge Stephen Parent of the superior Court assesses the evidence presented meets the burden that the appeal be allowed and that the trial take place.
In 2018, Denis Leclerc filed an action in the name of 280 former students who say they have been victims of physical abuse, psychological or sexual, during their stay at the Mont d’youville, an orphanage founded and managed for decades by the Sisters of Charity of Quebec.
The period of the allegations covers seven decades, from 1925 to 1996. Former students who have contacted lawyers since the start of procedures to identify more than 71 abusers potential, including 55 nuns. The plaintiffs accuse the religious authorities of having done nothing to prevent or stop the abuse of children.
The seekers, the Sisters of Charity of Quebec and the CIUSSS of the National Capital (which has taken over the management of the establishment, to establish offices in the centre of the youth, following the closure of the orphanage) felt that the appeal be allowed on the basis of the fault of others, namely the actions taken by employees of the Mont d’youville.
The defendants sought to exclude the own direct fault of the congregation or of the CIUSSS, arguing that the evidence did not allow to conclude to the knowledge of the abuse by the authorities.
According to them, the evidence of the former residents was based on generalities.
The plaintiffs contended that there were at Mont d’youville, as in many other religious circles, a “culture of silence” and that the Sisters of Charity of Quebec had made the choice to “actively support the perpetrators to avoid any scandal that could tarnish their reputation”.
The judge Parent believes that the fault direct to the religious congregation must be examined. “The relevant facts which emerge from the order request to authorize collective action, both as regards the liability of the defendants for the mistakes of others for the faults which are alleged to have committed,” concludes the judge Parent.
The fact that the parties are heard on the very long period of time of the actions alleged is in itself an important fact, note the judge Parent. “It is not at first sight frivolous allegation that the commission of abuses which had lasted over a period of time too long could not occur without the knowledge of the Sisters of Charity of Quebec and, as a result of this fact, they had posed no gesture to put an end to these abuses and to prevent it from perpetuating,” wrote the judge.
Physical and sexual assault
In the 1970s, Denis Leclerc would have been ill-treated by John-Anthony O’reilly, a former employee of the orphanage sentenced in 2010 to two years in prison for assaults on five former students. Mr. Leclerc also said to have suffered a sexual assault at the hands of a religious institution. The former resident said that when he was aged about 10 years, Sister Mailly asked him to leave the playground to the track. She would have led the boy in his room, and to have offered him chocolates. The religious would then have taken the child’s hand and place it on her pussy and would have asked her to masturbate. Denis Leclerc said, would be running. It is subsequently washed hands many times.
In the request, Mr. Leclerc describes the many physical assaults and the problems of addiction developed over the years.
He claims the $ 500,000 as non-pecuniary losses, 1 000 000 $ as a pecuniary loss and $ 500,000 for punitive damages. All members of the group are entitled to be compensated for damages, he adds.
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