Category: Sexual Abuse
Albert LeBlanc a fomer catholic priest from the Yarmouth Diocese pleaded guilty this week to charges that he sexually abused six boys in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Some of the charges stem from the period when LeBlanc was employed as a priest with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Yarmouth the later charges relate to periods when he was employed as a case worker with Social Services and then a probation officer.
LeBlanc is facing 44 more charges which are scheduled to be dealt with in August.
The Diocese of Yarmouth has already been sued by several of LeBlanc’s victims. The potential legal exposure for the Diocese, Family and Children’s Services and Probation Services could be enormous.
The Kids Help Phone is a non-profit organization that provides a telephone counselling service to youth 24 hours a day, 365 day a year.
Kids Help Phone provides support to youth suffering from a variety of problems including abuse, bullying, suicide, depression and online issues like cyberbullying.
Kids Help Phone doesn’t receive any core government funding and relies entirely on the support of individual donations and corporate sponsors.
Historical sexual abuse claims can be complicated and difficult to prove for many reasons; the abuse happened long ago, witnesses may have died, records are destroyed and memories fade.
Limitation Periods a Barrier
One of the biggest hurdles abuse survivors faced was the fact that the time limit to file a claim had usually run out by the time the survivor had the strength or courage to be able to disclose what happened to them as a child.
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a report this week supposedly showing the number of sexual abuse allegations made against American priests last year. How the data in the report should be interpreted depends on your point of view.
The report indicated that there were 594 new credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest during 2011. That’s more than a 15 percent increase over the previous year.
However, the Conference of Catholic Bishops is quick to point out that “only” 23 of the new allegations involved children who were under the age of 18 in 2010 or 2011. In other words, the Bishops are trying to suggest that the problem of sexual abuse by priests is an historical one and that there are few current cases of sexual abuse by priests.
After issuing a blanket apology to former Scouts who were sexually abused and claiming that every single allegation of sexual misconduct was reported to authorities, Scouts Canada has now admitted that some allegations of sexual misconduct were not investigated and not reported to police as required by law and Scouts Canada’s own policies.
Last year Scouts Canada said they have requested KPMG to conduct an “independent review” of 350 past allegations of suspected or alleged sexual abuse. What isn’t clear is if the 350 is the number of suspected victims or the number of suspected abusers.
Tip of the Iceberg
The fact that there are 350 past victims or abusers should be a huge concern to Scouts Canada. As a sexual abuse lawyer, I have been representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse for more than 20 years. I have represented hundreds of survivors.
Sexual abuse victims often struggle for years with memories of the traumatic abuse they suffered as children. In some cases, the experiences are so traumatic that they block out (or repress) the memories.
This week the Minnesota Supreme Court is hearing a motion to determine the validity of repressed memory in sexual abuse cases.
Courts will not allow expert evidence unless the party seeking to submit the evidence can establish that the evidence is reliable.
One of the greatest challenges in representing survivors of childhood abuse is the fact that, for the most part, the injuries are invisible. That is to say, they are primarily psychological. You cannot point to an x-ray, CT scan or MRI to show the nature and extent of a psychological injury. So in that sense, sexual abuse claims cause “invisible” injuries.
Sad Life Defence
Boy Scouts Canada kept a secret list of scout leaders and volunteers who had been convicted of, or accused of sexual abuse according to an investigative report by CBC’s Fifth Estate.
Secret List of Abusers
According to media reports the Boy Scouts of America have long maintained a list of scout leaders and volunteers who had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with children.
The Archdiocese of Boston recently decided to post the names of 159 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse. The Archdiocese also noted they have received allegations against 91 other priests. However, the names of the priests involved have not been made public. There is no indication if this is because the allegations have not been validated by the Church.
Change in Policy
The disclosure represents a rather radical shift in the traditional approach taken by the Catholic Church towards allegations of sexual abuse.