Category: Clergy Abuse

Vatican Can Be Sued For Priest Sexual Abuse: U.S. Court of Appeals

by John McKiggan

In a landmark ruling, the Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has allowed a lawsuit over alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests to proceed against the Vatican.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that lawyers for the Vatican tried to strike out the plaintiffs’ lawsuits under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a U.S. federal law that governs when a foreign Country can be sued. The U.S. law contains a number of restrictions that limit the ability to sue a foreign state.
The Cincinnati Court of Appeals confirmed that the Vatican is a foreign state, and therefore eligible for sovereign immunity. However, the court determined that the plaintiffs were able to continue their lawsuit under an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act which allows lawsuits for damages caused by “tortious acts” of a foreign State. The plaintiffs’ law suit claims that U.S. bishops are employees of the Vatican and that the Vatican and bishops have engaged in a coordinated policy of covering up acts of sexual abuse by priests.You can read the Court of Appeal’s decision here. Here is Canada, the relevant legislation is the State Immunity Act. The restrictions under Canada’s legislation are not as onerous as the U.S. legislation and the Canadian legislation clearly permits claims for personal injury:
6. A foreign state is not immune from the jurisdiction of a court in any proceedings that relate to(a) any death or personal or bodily injury, or(b) any damage to or loss of property that occurs in Canada. Here in Nova Scotia, Ronald Martin has filed a class action lawsuit against the bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish for sexual abuse perpetrated by various priests who were employed by the Antigonish Diocese between 1950 and 1980. Related posts: Documentary Explores Vatican Sexual Abuse Cover Up Lawyer wants to Question Pope about Sex Abuse Cover Ups Lawsuit against Vatican can proceed

Vatican Issues Guidelines for Psychological Screening of Priests: What took so long?

by John McKiggan

The Vatican has issued guidelines for psychological screening of new priests. The Associated Press has reported that the guidelines were issued in response to sexual abuse scandals that have cost the Roman Catholic Church hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for victims of sexual abuse.

Weeding Out Psychopaths

According to AP, the guidelines are supposed to help church leaders weed out candidates with “psychopathic disturbances.”

Supreme Court of Canada Clarifies Burden of Proof for Sexual Abuse Victims

by John McKiggan

Yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada restored a finding of civil liability for sexual assaults committed by an Oblate Brother against a former Indian Residential School Student decades ago and confirmed the burden of proof that victims of historical sexual assaults must meet if they pursue civil claim for compensation.

In F.H. v. McDougall the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a finding of civil liability against Ian Hugh McDougall, a former teacher at the Meares Island Indian Residential school. McDougall was originally found liable in B.C. Supreme Court, but the judgment was overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that the testimony of adult victims about sexual assaults that happened during childhood require independent corroboration.

Perry Dunlop still in Jail: Bishop who Hired Abusive Priests Free

by John McKiggan

Perry Dunlop, a former Cornwall Ontario police officer whose investigation launched a huge criminal investigation in the 1990s is still in jail.

Contempt of Court

Dunlop refused to testify before the Cornwall public inquiry and was sentenced to 6 months in jail. Yesterday he was sentenced to another 30 days in jail for a criminal conviction of contempt of court.

Sexual Abuse Class Action filed against R.C. Diocese of Antigonish and Cape Breton

by John McKiggan

Our firm has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish for compensation for victims of sexual abuse by priests from the Diocese.

The claim is the first class action in Nova Scotia filed under the new Class Proceedings Act.

The representative plaintiff is Ronald Martin. Ron’s brother of David Martin committed suicide 6 years ago. David’s suicide note revealed that he had been sexually abused by Father Hugh Vincent MacDonald, a former priest of the Antigonish Diocese.

Documentary Explores Vatican Sexual Abuse Cover Up

by John McKiggan

Vows of Silence is a new documentary by journalist Jason Berry, that explores Fr. Marciel Maciel Degollado, and the Catholic group, Legionaries of Christ.



The Vatican eventually found Maciel Degollado guilty of multiple acts of sexual abuse spanning decades. His punishment? His public ministry was restricted.

Prosecutor Wants Bountiful Polygamous Probe Reopened:

by John McKiggan

The special prosecutor who has been asked to investigate the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Bountiful, British Columbia plans to ask the RCMP to reopen their criminal investigation into the polygamous religious community.

The Globe and Mail reported that Vancouver lawyer, Terry Robertson says that:

“The law says it is an offence for a person in a position of authority over another to sexually touch someone if they are under 18,”

Bishop on Trial: Convicted of Covering up Sexual Abuse by Brother

by John McKiggan

Episcopal Bishop Charles Bennison is on trial in ecclesiastical court facing accusations that he covered up sexual abuse by his brother, who is also a priest, on a 14 year old girl.

The Bishop is not facing criminal charges, nor is he being sued in civil court. The trial is taking place under the rules of canon (church) law. A panel of 5 bishops, 2 clergy and 2 lay members will decide whether Bennsion violated church rules Title IV of the Canons of the Episcopal Church by failing to disclose that his brother, John Bennison was having sexual relations with an underage female parishioner.

The Philidelphia Bulletin has reported that :

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