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Lawsuit alleging sexual abuse filed against estate of dead B.C. priest

Filed in B.C. Supreme Court, the lawsuit alleges that the former priest and another unnamed man sexually abused a 12-year-old five times between 1974 and 1975. File / Global News

A B.C. priest who was sentenced to four years in prison for sex crimes against girls over a 28-year span is being sued by an alleged male victim, albeit posthumously.

In a lawsuit filed with the B.C. Supreme Court on Jan. 12, the civil claim states that the plaintiff, named only as A.B., was sexually abused as a child five times between 1974 and 1975 at or around Nelson.

The court document says the former and now-deceased priest, John Frederick Monaghan, and a man only named as John Doe, but believed to be a priest, committed sexual battery upon the then-12-year-old plaintiff at three different locations.

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The lawsuit also includes the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Nelson and the Catholic Independent Schools of Nelson Diocese.

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The locations were said to be Kootenay Lake Hospital, at St. Joseph School in Nelson and the bishop’s summerhouse at or near Horlick’s Point near Nelson.

The document says the plaintiff was a minor, incapable of consent, while Monaghan and John Doe were in positions of authority over the plaintiff.

It added that Monaghan and John Doe were also employees or agents of the Bishop and or the Catholic Independent Schools of Nelson Diocese (CISND).

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Newspaper reports from 1988 state that Monaghan, 83, the vicar-general of the diocese pled guilty to 17 counts of fondling girls for 30 years. He was sentenced to four years.

The sex crimes were said to have occurred between 1959 and 1987.

In 1989, the Buffalo News reported that the Catholic church in Canada was establishing a special committee to investigate pedophilia in the priesthood.

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The story said the church had been rocked by sex scandals across the nation, and that since 1988, 15 priests and 14 other church members, including two former priests, had been charged with sexual offences, mainly against the young.

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The current lawsuit claims the plaintiff sustained injuries loss and damages resulting from the sexual abuse, including moral and spiritual injury; an impaired ability to trust others; post-traumatic stress disorder; anxiety and depressive symptoms, distorted thinking and lack of self-worth.

“The Bishop and/or CISND knew or ought to have known of the risk of harm to the plaintiff caused by the defendants Monaghan and John Doe,” said the civil claim, “but failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the harm and were thus in breach of their fiduciary duties, willfully blind, reckless and/or directly negligent.”

It said those reasonable steps included:

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  • Failing to reasonably select Monaghan and John Doe;
  • Failing to reasonably supervise Monaghan and John Doe;
  • Failing to restrict the responsibilities of Monaghan and John Doe when they knew or ought to have known Monaghan and John Doe were at risk of causing harm to children;
  • Failing to terminate the responsibilities and duties of Monaghan and John Doe when they knew or ought to have known these priests were at risk of causing harm to children.
  • Failing to take steps to laicize Monaghan and John Doe when they knew or ought to have known these priests were unsuitable for the clerical vocation of Roman Catholic priest;
  • Failing to warn faithful parishioners, including the plaintiff, of the risk of harm Monaghan and John Doe posed to children.
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Global News has reached out to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nelson. Its headquarters are now located in Kelowna.

None of the allegations has been proven in court and a statement of defence has not been filed.

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