Lahey named in St. John's civil lawsuit
By Deborah Gyapong
filed against the former Bishop of Antigonish, N.S. and the Archdiocese
of St. John’s, alleges Lahey fondled Todd Boland while driving around
in a car with the boy on his lap. Other incidents occurred over a four-year
period, according to the lawsuit’s statement of claim.
being fondled or groped of course it’s bad enough,” said Boland’s
lawyer Greg Stack in an interview from St. John’s. “But when
it’s your priest doing it, it puts it into another realm altogether.”
the alleged incidents in the claim all involve fondling or simulated sex
acts over the clothes. But he does not rule out new allegations being
appended to the statement of claim because of the initial sense of humiliation,
disgust and shame. “What they discuss and disclose at the earlier
times is often amplified as it goes on.”
lived at Mount Cashel Orphanage while Lahey, then a monsignor, served
as a priest in nearby Mount Pearl. Lahey used to visit the boys, take
them for drives or for visits to his rectory. Mount Cashel was torn down
in 1990 after revelations of physical and sexual abuse by Irish Christian
Brothers who ran the facility.
others may also come forward. “There are several leads we are following
up; that’s all I can say at this time.”
said his client has “led a life of turmoil” since the alleged
abuse, something he said is common when abuse involves authority figures.
He said Lahey was a well-respected priest in St. John’s and a God-like
figure to the boy.
Boland is now
behind bars at the Dorchester Penitentiary, a medium-security prison in
New Brunswick. Stack said he has a history of break and enters and property
Boland did not come forward earlier because he thought “nothing
could or would be done about it.”
news about the pornography charges made Boland believe someone might take
his allegations seriously, said Stack.
asserts that the archdiocese knew or ought to have known about the alleged
abuse and failed to take adequate steps to prevent it through proper screening.
Archbishop Martin Currie said in an interview from St. John’s that
he feels great sadness at the new revelations and deep concern and compassion
for any victims of sexual abuse, especially those abused by priests.
we need to try to be a church that’s known for transparency and
for accountability,” he said. “And that we’re going
to try to answer the questions as best we can when they arise.”
called attention to the great strides the church has made since the publication
of From Pain to Hope in 1992. He said everyone on staff needs to go through
police checks and obtain letters of reference and clergy have to go through
extensive psychological testing and interviews.
whole question of sexual abuse is something hopefully the church can be
part of trying to eradicate from society because of the efforts we have
been making,” Currie said. “We know this is not a problem
of the church,it’s
a problem of society.”
in all walks of life and in a good portion of families,” he said.
has from 15 - 20 other sexual abuse lawsuits that have not yet been resolved.
Currie and Stack both said the unresolved claims have to do with disputes
over insurance coverage. The archbishop said the archdiocese has admitted
bad that these men who are now adults are waiting for their financial
settlement,” he said, noting the cases concern Rev. James Hickey.
Only a month
before he was arrested, Lahey had concluded a more than $13 million settlement
in Antigonish that was touted as fair and compassionate to sexual abuse
victims. Authorities arrested him at the Ottawa airport Sept. 15, 2009
and seized his laptop and other electronic devices. Police laid charges
Sept. 25 after police say they found pornographic images of children.
his Antigonish see the next day and turned himself into police Oct. 1.
He has been living at a retired priest’s residence in Ottawa as
his case works its way through the courts. He will go on trial April 26,
2011 before a judge but no jury on charges of possession and importation
of child pornography.