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Church damages in priest sex case 'ludicrous': victim

Archbishop got confession from playboy priest, judge says
Archbishop Adam Exner. (via Jeremy Hainsworth)


That’s what the victim of a Kamloops Roman Catholic priest’s sexual assaults 40 years ago calls the church’s suggestion of $60,000 in general damages.

And, while the church’s lawyer has conceded the assaults took place, John Hogg said the case is about general damages and nothing to do with Rosemary Anderson’s $1.5-million claim for lost income because she couldn’t become a doctor.

“It doesn’t begin to reflect the injury,” Anderson said outside court

Hogg’s suggestion to B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Crossin March 11 is a long way from the $2.45 million in damages her lawyer Sandra Kovacs suggested March 10.

Crossin has already heard that Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese officials knew of the alleged sexual activities of Father Erlindo “Lindo” Molon before a church school teacher reported months of abuse by Molon in 1977.

Indeed, church lawyers conceded when the trial began last fall that the case was about determining liability.

“Vicarious liability exists,” Hogg said Wednesday

Anderson, now 70, alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.

Last October in court, Kovacs said Molon “raped” Anderson 75 to 100 times.

Anderson had gone to see Molon for solace after her father’s death. Instead, he began groping her, initiating a sexual relationship, one for which she prayed to God for an ending.

Molon’s superior at the time, Archbishop Adam Exner, now 90, conceded on the stand that Molon “was molesting people,” including Anderson. And, it was Anderson who went to see Exner about the situation.

But, Kovacs has argued, Exner did little about it, despite having known of the issue for some time, wanting to avoided scandal

Hogg, however, told Crossin the church’s position is that Anderson and Molon were in a relationship.

Hogg also detailed a series of relationships Anderson has had in her life, some of which involved sexual abuse.

Hogg’s submissions left Anderson sobbing in the gallery, her son’s arm around her.

While questioning Hogg’s final submissions, Crossin was clear in his understanding of what Exner had done about Molon when Anderson disclosed the situation to him.

“He did pursue it,” Crossin said. “Essentially, he got a confession from Molon. He certainly didn’t deny the rumours he was in sexual dalliances with parishioners.”

What remains for Crossin to determine is the extent of damages the church must pay. He must assess how Exner understood the extent of harm being inflicted by Molon on Anderson and other women in order to determine what damages he orders.

The court has heard Anderson wanted to pursue a medical career. However, her psychological state after the abuse prevented her from doing so.

Hogg argued Anderson’s past academic record and her emotional state precluded such a field of study.

Indeed, he said, Anderson had made a choice between further schooling and marrying and raising a family.

Crossin questioned that, saying Hogg seemed to be suggesting people who have had children could no longer go to school.

In determining the harm Molon, Exner and the church knew or ought to have known was being done to Anderson, Crossin and Kovacs agreed they must view the situation from the lens of a “reasonable person” at that time four decades ago.

Another key factor in determining damages will be the impact the alleged sexual assaults had on Anderson’s life.

Kovacs spoke about Anderson’s inability to focus on pre-medical school courses in the early 1980s, lifelong anxiety and depression, a legacy of lack of trust in people and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Last month, Kovacs told Crossin that the papal nuncio in Ottawa had been served documents to participate in the case.

“They are refusing to participate, citing diplomatic immunity,” Kovacs told Crossin.

That’s despite the Vatican’s December announcement it would abolish the high secrecy applied to sexual-abuse accusations against clerics. The situation had been seen as shielding priests from secular authorities.

Molon wound up preaching in other parishes, including those in a U.S. archdiocese notorious for sexual abuse cases.

He later worked for the Canadian Armed Forces.

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