Accusation of Childhood Sexual Assault by a Ex-Nazi Catholic Priest During Confession is Resolved by a BC Woman

An accusation of sexual molestation by a former Nazi turned Catholic priest against a lady from Vancouver Island has been resolved.

According to the notice of claim, Father Gerhard Hartmann routinely touched and fondled the victim in the course of three years at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Nanaimo, British Columbia, starting in 1976 when she was just 10 years old.

According to the lawsuit, “it occurred during confession, which for a Catholic is a sacred period.” Since she is a purported victim of sexual abuse, she is going by the pseudonym S.P.

“As a young child, I was in a really vulnerable situation. The physical attack, the mental assault, and the spiritual assault are all examples of how authority is being abused.

In her complaint filed in February 2020, she claimed that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria was vicariously accountable for her abuse because it was careless and disregarded its obligations to safeguard parishioners.

Earlier this month, the case was resolved outside of court on unspecified terms, but S.P. said that the outcome is “acceptable to all parties”.

After the Second World War, Hartmann, who passed away in 2015, immigrated to Canada from Germany. He defended Berlin against the Soviet advance, according to S.P., and was a member of the Hitler Youth.

S.P. claimed that the church community was aware of that background.

However, it is claimed in both Hartmann’s autobiography and an obituary that was printed in the diocese’s newsletter that Hartmann felt compelled to defend Nazi Germany.

He received his priestly ordination in January 1976. A few months later, according to S.P., he allegedly started hitting her and didn’t stop until he departed Nanaimo in 1979.

According to S.P.’s claim, Hartmann allegedly exploited his position of power to prevent her from telling anyone. It mentions how Catholic youngsters of the time were taught that violating God’s laws would condemn them to hell and that priests were God’s appointed spokesmen on Earth.

The lawsuit asserts that S.P. wrote to the diocese in the early 2000s about her abuse but only received a “dismissive” response.

S.P. said that the alleged abuse significantly impacted her life and that she is still coping with the consequences. Suicidal thoughts, addiction, and mental health issues have been the results. She did, however, remark that going to court had been beneficial.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual and/or physical abuse and is searching for legal rights and remedies, Slater Vecchio LLP is here to help. Please contact us for a free, private, confidential meeting.

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James Richards
As a member of our class action practice group, I act for survivors harmed by institutional abuses in both class action and individual civil sexual assault claims. I believe that every harmed person deserves to be heard and advocated for.