Landmark priest sexual abuse trial opens in Quebec City

QUEBEC CITY – “I’m nervous, but we’ll see.” Frank Tremblay, 40, was hoping he would never have to revisit his old dormitory. That’s where he said the abuse took place.

Tremblay and about 50 other men have launched a class action suit against nine Catholic priests, including one already serving time in jail.

On opening day of the trial, Tremblay was asked to accompany the judge and a throng of lawyers inside Séminaire St. Alphonse, in Ste. Anne de Beaupré. Very rarely does a judge travel to a crime scene.

“In this case, there’s an obvious need for this because there are dormitories to visit, allegations children were moved and traveled from one place to another, allegations priests used the cars owned by the congregation to bring the children to cottages on weekends for the children to be further abused,” said Carlo Tarini, director of communications for the Association of victims of priests.

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Tarini explained Father Raymond Marie Lavoie has already been convicted of the sexual assault of 13 boys in criminal court. But what the victims are seeking now is compensation: about $100,000 each. No one from the defense team wanted to comment on the beginning of proceedings.

“The religious communities are stonewalling all the claims of the victims,” argued Tarini.

“They’re asking for expertise, asking the lawyers to go through hoops in order to slow down the claims. In our point of view, this is very dirty and clashes with everything the Catholic church preaches at mass on Sundays.”

The trial is expected to last twenty days. Seventeen victims will testify there was a system, in which the priests would often trade them like hockey cards.

Many of the priests named in the suit have since passed away.