Church facing new abuse suit

A Nova Scotia man who has filed a civil lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church alleging sexual abuse spoke out on the accusations for the first time Thursday, saying he doesn’t want to see a separate class-action settlement fail.

Warren Latimer holds up a local newspaper as he provides support for his brother Philip

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia man who has filed a civil lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church alleging sexual abuse spoke out on the accusations for the first time Thursday, saying he doesn’t want to see a separate class-action settlement fail.

Philip Latimer, who alleges he was sexually molested by a priest for four years beginning when he was 11, said he launched his lawsuit partly because the class-action settlement was brokered by a bishop now facing child pornography charges.

“That triggered something within me,” Latimer said. “I want healing, true healing.”

Latimer alleges Rev. Allan MacDonald — who is deceased — plied with him free pizza and alcohol to abuse him while he was a priest in Havre Boucher, N.S., near Cape Breton.

“I was put into a dark hole, a dark, dark place, and I cannot describe to you the pain that I entered into, the shame that I felt,” Latimer said.

The lawsuit names the archdiocese of Halifax and the diocese of Antigonish as defendants. They have not reacted to the statement of claim.

The Antigonish diocese is at the centre of a landmark sexual abuse settlement negotiated by Bishop Raymond Lahey, who is facing charges of possessing and importing child pornography in Ottawa.

Neither the allegations contained in the lawsuit nor those against Lahey have been proven in court.

Lawyers for Latimer say their client is opting out of the $15-million class-action settlement announced in August because he wants more information on what the church knew at the time of the alleged abuse and if it failed to act on that knowledge.

“I would suspect the people of this province and the people of this particular diocese want to know what went on, want to know how deep the rot was or is, and need to know,” lawyer Rob Talach said.

“If we’re all happy to pay off everyone and move on, then things are great. But if you want more, you have to ask for more, and I think that’s what Mr. Latimer is doing here today.”

The settlement, which was certified by a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge, is intended to compensate anyone who was allegedly and known to have been sexually assaulted by a priest of the Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Antigonish since Jan. 1, 1950.

Alleged victims have until Dec. 4 to opt out of the settlement.

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