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article imageCatholic order to pay $18 million to child sex-abuse victims

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 7, 2011 in World
Montreal - A Roman Catholic order which runs an elite boys private boarding school in Montreal, on Thursday, signed an out-of-court settlement of a class-action lawsuit involving allegations of sexual abuse of school boys.
The Catholic religious order, Congregation of Holy Cross, made the out-of-court settlement with a payment of $18 million, and an apology for years of priest sexual abuse of school children. The payment is believed to be the biggest settlement payment ever made in Canada.
The New York Times reports that the religious order, which runs three boarding schools in Quebec, had earlier denied allegations of child sex abuse in its schools. According to Global Montreal, three years ago, the Montreal Gazette discovered letters Rene Cornellier Jr. had sent to authorities in his former school, College Notre-Dame, one of the Montreal schools the Congregation of Holy Cross runs. The Montreal Gazette presented the letters to provincial superior Father Jean-Pierre Aumont, as evidence of priest child sex abuse in the schools. In the letter, Rene Cornellier Jr. alleged that when he was a school boy at College Notre-Dame, priests abused him sexually. Rene Cornellier Jr. demanded the school investigate his case but, unfortunately, he died in 1994, and the school authorities did nothing about the evidence.
The National Post reports Father Jean-Pierre Aumont had denied the evidence of Rene Cornellier's letters, saying that a former member of the organization who felt dissatisfied with disengagement emoluments was trying to blackmail the order with false allegations of child sex abuse.
The Catholic order finally agreed to an out-of-court settlement after threats of class-action. The out-of-court agreement applies to three institutions run by the Congregation of Holy Cross which are now defunct. At least 85 people are thought eligible for compensation.
Robert Cornellier, head of the Committee of Pedophile Victims at College Notre-Dame, said, in memory of his brother Rene Cornellier, who died in 1994:
"He fought for almost seven or eight months before he died to bring that forward and today we can say that he didn't do that for nothing...You don't choose your cause. The cause comes to you and we said, 'We have no choice, we have to do it for his memory.'"
According to Global Montreal, about $18 million will be shared out among the victims and some will receive as much as $250,000. In honor of his role in uncovering the abuses, Rene Cornellier Jr. will have a $100,000 scholarship named after him.
Father Jean-Piere Aumont, who had earlier denied the allegations of sex abuse, said, in a formal statement of apology:
"I am truly pained by these transgressions and apologize, on behalf of the Congregation of Holy Cross, for all of the pain and suffering this abuse has inflicted on the victims...Damage was done, and we have taken measures to repair them. We hope that the victims will finally be able to throw off the veil of silence, heal from their wounds as best as possible and fully embrace their future."
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