A class action lawsuit alleging decades-long sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic clergy affiliated with the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth has been resolved with a $10 million settlement, according to a Nova Scotia court.
Justice Christa Brothers of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court authorized the settlement on Monday, four years after the lawsuit was initiated.
The accusations first surfaced in 1954. The majority of survivors are now elderly.
The most reverend Brian J. Dunn, the archbishop of the diocese, said in a statement made public on Monday that “the class-action suit is a constant reminder of the damage and great hurt that have been inflicted on individuals by members of the clergy. However, it is necessary to provide an opportunity for justice and healing for all victims.”
The archdiocese has “zero tolerance for sexual abuse of any type past, present or future,” according to the statement.
About 90 survivors will receive payments ranging between $30,000 and $350,000 each, according to attorney John McKiggan.
Many people have already expressed interest in joining the class action. According to information gathered from the American College of Catholic Bishops and expert testimony, the overall number of qualified claimants is an estimate, McKiggan said in an interview on Tuesday.
Steven Gallant, the main plaintiff in the case, was assaulted by a priest who was ultimately found guilty of the crime when he was a 14-year-old altar boy in the 1970s.
The 50 prior lawsuits that were already resolved with the archbishop are not included in the settlement.
Two episcopal corporations make up the archdiocese, one located in Halifax and the other in Yarmouth. According to McKiggan, the Yarmouth branch will contribute $1.85 million and the Halifax-based company will contribute $8.15 million to the most recent settlement.
Douglas Champagne served as the case’s main plaintiff at the time it was first filed on August 2, 2018. He said that the late priest George Epoch of the Canadian Martyrs church had molested him in the 1960s. Epoch belonged to the Jesuit fraternity.
When the allegations first surfaced, McKiggan said that the attacks were a part of a “bigger systemic pattern of the Catholic Church having a policy of covering up and keeping secret any complaint of sexual abuse against a priest in every sector of the Catholic Church worldwide.”