Friday, June 18, 2010

Not liable for Lahey's actions: church

Not liable for Lahey's actions: church
The Catholic Church says it can't be blamed for alleged sexual assaults
Last Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2010 | 10:29 PM NT .
By Mark Quinn, CBC News
Raymond Lahey, a former Nova Scotia archbishop facing child-pornography charges, turned himself in to Ottawa police last fall. (Mark Edlesonan Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
The Roman Catholic Church in St. John's denies any responsibility for alleged sexual misconduct by Bishop Raymond Lahey when he was a priest in the city.

The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's filed a statement of defence in the Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court on June 9.

The church in St. John's denies any responsibility for alleged sexual misconduct by Lahey.

The statement was filed in response to a civil suit launched against Lahey and the church on April 7 by a former resident of the notorious Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John's.

Todd Boland alleges that Lahey, 69, fondled him between 1982 and 1985, when he was a child in Lahey's care.

Lahey, who is to be tried on child pornography charges in an unrelated case, has never been charged with sexual abuse. He filed a statement of defence May 31, denying Boland's claims.

Lahey, the former Antigonish, N.S., diocese bishop, was charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

Boland claims the church in St. John's and specifically Archbishop Alphonsus Penney knew, or should have known, Lahey was a risk to children.

"I mean his propensities were there," Boland's lawyer, Greg Stack, told CBC News Thursday. "If [Penney] didn't have actual knowledge, he was wilfully blind to the sexual propensities of Bishop Lahey."

The allegations have not been proven in court.

In court documents, the church denies it knew or should have known about the activities alleged by Boland.

Stack has successfully represented other men assaulted by clergy in Newfoundland, including the Christian Brothers who abused boys at the now-closed Mount Cashel orphanage. He said he isn't surprised by the church's statement of defence in the Boland case.

"It's what we are used to by now," Stack said. "It's a denial of basically everything. A denial that they knew anything that their priest was doing and a denial that if he was doing it he was doing it in the course of being a priest."

Stack said there have been no talks with the church to settle Boland's suit.

He says the next step will likely be the gathering of information in a process called discovery, where the church's lawyers will "grill" Boland.

Last Sept. 25, Lahey was charged with possession of child pornography after a search of his computer at Ottawa International Airport. He was released at the time, but his laptop computer was seized and police said a forensic examination revealed child pornography.

He resigned from his position with the church in Nova Scotia after he was charged.

Lahey has remained in Ottawa, where he is to be tried on the pornography charges. The trial is scheduled to begin in April 2011.

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