Archive for September, 2007

Pastor Sexually Abused by Another Pastor: Proves Lessons of Sexual Abuse

Mike Lewis, Pastor of the New Life Center in Cedar Grove, released a statement confirming he was one of the boys whom Shrewsbury Church of God pastor Sandy Martin Cook is charged with sexually assaulting over a decade ago.

Cook is charged with three counts of sexual abuse by a person of trust and 44 counts of third-degree sexual assault.

“For 13 years I have hidden this secret in the deepest part of my being, never to let it out,” Lewis said in a public statement. “Over these past years I have shared this secret with no one. Not my wife, parents, family or leaders.”

Lewis accused Church of God leaders of ignoring reports of the abuse:

“The realization of the fact that this person’s sexual abuses were brought to the attention of other local Church of God pastors, as well as the State Overseer of the Church of God, and that it was swept under a rug and not reported to the authorities is simply appalling…

“I assumed that my abuse had been limited to me alone and that no one else was suffering what I suffered. My assumptions were wrong …

“I now know that I was not alone and I have a right & responsibility to speak up. I would have taken this secret to my grave, but when investigators approached me and asked the question . . . ‘Are you also a victim’, I could not lie.”

I thought this story was important because it confirms so many fundamental truths that I have seen time after time representing victims of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse by religious leaders is not just a Catholic problem .

The abuse claims that become public are just the tip of the iceberg

Church Leaders cover up allegations of sexual abuse.

Most important: SECRECY PROTECTS CHILD ABUSERS ; when predators’ names come out, other victims of the same perpetrator are  empowered to come forward.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse…tell someone. You are not alone.


Cape Breton Priest Changes Story on Sexual Assault

Catholic priest and convicted pedophile Claude Richard has changed his story about how times he sexually abused his victim.  Richard pleaded guilty in June to assaulting the boy 20 to 30 times over a four-month period in 1987 but during his sentencing hearing Richard claimed to have had a “one night stand” with his 14 year old victim.

Claude Richard has pleaded guilty or been convicted of dozens of charges of sexually abusing children, many of whom were altar boys in  various parishes  throughout Cape Breton.

15 years ago I sued Claude Richard and his pedophile twin brother, Clair Richard on behalf of a dozen of their sexual abuse victims. During his examination for discovery Claude Richard denied, under oath, having sexually abused my clients… after he had already pleaded guilty to criminal charges of sexual assault against the same victims!

I have to wonder if there is some genetic connection between being a pedophile and being a pathological liar!

Province Pays Compensation for Sexual Abuse by Prison Guard

A former inmate has been awarded $40,000.00 in compensation plus $10,000.00 in punitive damges for sexual abuse he suffered by a former prison guard, Roderick David MacDougall.  The inmate sued the Province of British Columbia that ran the prison, the Lower Mainland Regional Correctional Center.

MacDougall sexually assaulted the inmate twice using a combination of intimidation and promises of a pass from the prison for the holidays. The judge was clear about how he felt about MacDougall’s actions:

 As with the other MacDougall cases, the context of MacDougall, who was in a position of  authority in the prison, and of Mr. Hall, who was a young, vulnerable inmate, was clearly  repugnant.  MacDougall took advantage of his position and while there were no threats of direct  violence there was the implied promise of the Christmastime pass.

Lawyers for the Province of British Columbia tried, (unsuccessfully) to attack the victims’ credibility, based in part on his criminal convictions.  Does anyone else find it “repugnant ” that the Province would defend a sexually abusive prison guard on the ground that his victims are not credible BECAUSE THEY WERE PRISONERS?

 The victim, had a horrific pre-trauma history, his mother was a physically abusive prostitute, he developed substance addictions and anger management issues at a young age. The judge clearly had difficulty sorting out the traumatic effects of the victims’s childhood and those of the sexual abuse by the prison guard, MacDougall.

Thus, the challenge this Court is tasked with is to tease out the strands of damage that were  caused by the abuse by MacDougall and the strands of damage that were already in existence and  would have developed in any event, and the damage that occurred later but was without  intersection with the MacDougall abuse, in order to place Mr. Hall in the position he would have  been in “but for” the assaults.

The median award for non-pecuniary (pain and suffering) damages for sexual abuse in Canada is $125,000.00.

It is incredibly unfortunate that the very issues that made him vulnerable to attack by MacDougall resulted in such a relatively low award.

You can read the full decision here.

There are at least 16 other reported decisions involving sexual abuse by MacDougall against other inmates! One has to ask the question, were the people in charge of supervising MacDougall fired suspended or even reprimanded?

I doubt it. 

I have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood abuse. Many of them, because of their traumatic childhood, have criminal records. It is difficult enough for victims of abuse to come forward to confront their abusers. It is appalling that sexual abusers can use the effects of the abuse to try to avoid being held accountable.

Bishop to Suspend Priest for “Abusive Cult Practices”?

The Globe and Mail reports Anglican authorities have begun investigating the activities of a retired Anglican priest who was headmaster for two decades of a now-closed private Christian school where alleged abusive cult practices were carried out.

Bishop George Bruce is considering whether to exercise his authority under Canon Law to “inhibit” – suspend the priestly duties- of Rev. Charles Farnsworth.

Anglican Canon law specifically allows for inhibition in disciplinary inquiries “if it appears to the bishop that great scandal is likely to arise if a priest continues to perform the duties of his or her office while a charge is under investigation…”

Over the last 15 years I have represented many victims of clergy sexual abuse and read the reports of hundreds of other cases. I am not aware of any case where a Bishop has publically stated that he would exercise his power of inhibition. Bishop Bruce is to be commended for acting so quickly after the accusations became public. But it begs the question, what are the allegations that he thinks will cause “great scandal”? The details that have come out so far are pretty bizarre, involving accusations of physical abuse and psychological brainwashing.

This story is one to watch.  Kathy Shaw has posted a number of stories about Farnsworth on the Abuse Tracker blog.

Bankrupt Diocese Settles Priest Sexual Abuse Claims

Yesterday the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego reached a settlement to compensate 144 victims of sexual abuse by priests within the Diocese.

The settlement will pay victims an average of 1.37 million dollars, slightly higher than the landmark $660 million settlement announced by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which will see average pay outs of 1.3 million dollars.

The settlement came after the San Diego Diocese declared bankruptcy to protect it’s assests from the lawsuits filed by abuse victims. The Judge monitoring the Diocese’s bankruptcy proceedings, Bankruptcy Judge Louise DeCarl Adler, was highly critical of the Diocese’s conduct during the proceedings, stating that the financial reports filed by the Church contained “irregularities” and undervalued Church assets. At one point, the Judge threatened to dimiss the bankruptcy altogether, ending the protection from victim’s lawsuits.

The settlement requires the Diocese to release internal documents proving the sexual abuse and the extent that Chuch officials were aware of the pedophile priests within the Diocese.

You can read more here.

Largest Class Action in Canadian History Moves Forward

Kathy Shaw at  has posted a link to a story in the Anglican Journal  about the Canadian Indian Residential Schools abuse claims settlement.

The article refers to the settlement as the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. It certainly is that. But more importantly it is the largest abuse claims settlement in the world. More than TWO BILLION dollars in compensation for loss of language and culture to 80,000 potential claimants . Plus a compensation program that will pay up to an additional $275,000.00 in compensation to victims of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. 

I have represented the Association for the Survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School for twelve years. I am proud to have been part of the team that negotiated what is sure to be an historic claims settlement.

Nuns Pay for Priest Sexual Abuse

In a move that is sure to generate sympathy for the Church, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has stated it’s intention to sell one of it’s convents to help raise money to meet it’s obligations under the $660 million abuse claims settlement.

It is unfortunate and unfair that the nuns who live in the convent will have to find another place to live because of the actions of pervert priests. But, it is important to remember who is responsible for this sad state of affairs. Not the victims of sexual abuse who had their lives destroyed. It is the predator priests who sexually abused children in their parishes and those in authority in the Church that knew about the abuse, covered it up, and allowed it to continue.

When is some journalist going to publish a story with the names of all the priests that covered up the sexual abuse for so many years? Then maybe the public can hold the proper people accountable.

John McKiggan’s Abuse Claims Feed