The Roman Catholic Bishop who helped victims of sexual abuse in Nova Scotia is facing charges for possessing child pornography. Police announced he was wanted for arrest September 25.
Bishop Raymond Lahey had resigned on September 21, only a month after about 12 parishioners won an unprecedented $15 million settlement. The settlement was compensation for sexual abuse the people suffered at the hands of parish priests when they were children. Some of the claims go as far back as the 1950's.
At a press conference held after the court case concluded, Lahey said "I want them to know how terribly sorry we are, how wrong this abuse was, and how we are now attempting to right those wrongs. Money can never compensate fully, but we are trying ... to be fair, responsible, respectful and, most of all, compassionate."
When Lahey was returning to Canada on September 15, border officials found "images of concern" on the Bishop's laptop, and had seized the computer as well as other electronic gadgets the Bishop had in his possession. A forensic examination of the computer led to the issuance of an arrest warrant for the Bishop.
Local residents and church representatives are expressing shock. Diocese of Antigonish spokesperson, Father Paul Abbass said"... Lahey was a deeply caring person who was extremely respectful of people. I would like to believe he had — despite this seeming contradiction [of these charges] — a passionate commitment to this process of reconciliation and justice with those who were sexually abused. It was not just a legal process, it was more than a strategy. He was deeply committed to this course.” The representative for the victims who won the recent lawsuit, John McKiggan, said Bishop Lahey's handling of the case “... was extraordinary and unprecedented. None of that has changed and that’s why quite frankly I’m shocked by these allegations against him.”
In Newfoundland, where Lahey used to live, the reaction to the news has been angry. In his past, Lahey had worked as a professor of theology at Memorial University. Residents of Antigonish, Nova Scotia were shocked.
News reports say that Lahey's lawyer is meeting with police today, but the police do not know where Lahey is. It is anticipated that Lahey will turn himself in to Ottawa police.