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Proposed class-action lawsuit over sex abuse claims filed against Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth

Lawyers filed the proposed class-action lawsuit in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday.
Lawyers filed the proposed class-action lawsuit in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday. File/ Global News

A proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Thursday against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of a man representing people who claim to have been sexually abused by priests employed by the organization, according to a lawyer who is part of the legal action.

The lawsuit, first reported by CBC News, has not yet been certified.

John McKiggan, a partner of law firm McKiggan Hebert and a lawyer who is part of the lawsuit, said in an interview with Global News that it’s not known right now how many people will join in.

“It’s not unusual in a class-action to not know exactly how many class members there are but it’s even more difficult, as you can imagine, in class-actions involving persons who were sexually abused because there’s not a whole lot of people who stand up and put their hand up and say, ‘Hey, world, I’m a victim of sexual abuse,'” he said.

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“We know that there are other victims out there.”

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Douglas Champagne is the representative plaintiff, McKiggan said.

A copy of the statement of claim wasn’t immediately available Thursday evening.

The lawsuit is meant to cover claims of sexual assault that date back to 1960.

Along with monetary compensation, McKiggan said they’re seeking a list from the archdiocese of the priests accused of sexual abuse who were sent to an Ontario facility for treatment.

An interview request was not fulfilled, but the archdiocese provided a statement to Global News.

“We have today received the statement of claim and are reviewing it with our legal advisors. The Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth condemns sexual abuse of all forms. The Archdiocese has an established process in place to address claims brought for any historic sexual abuse. The Archdiocese makes a sincere attempt to do the right thing by way of the victims and achieve an appropriate and fair settlement for established claims,” said Very Rev. John Williams, the vicar-general of the organization.

“Because legal action is now underway against the Archdiocese, it would be inappropriate to speak about specific aspects of the claim. We nevertheless remain committed to being respectful of the dignity of the claimants and doing the right thing.”

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