Newfoundland sex-abuse fallout hits diocese hard


ST. JOHN'S, Nfld., May 11, 2005, (  The fallout resulting from the sex-abuse case of Fr. Kevin Bennett has forced the Diocese of St. George in Newfoundland to sell all of its assets in order to raise $13 million for the 39 victims, reports the Canadian Press.

In an article by Dene Moore, carried by the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and other media outlets, Bishop Douglas Crosby is quoted as saying that “Everything, all of the churches, all of the parish houses, all the missions,” are up for sale. 150 properties in total will be liquidated in an area ranging from Port aux Basques to St. Anthony in western Nfld.

Fr. Bennett was convicted in 1990 of hundreds of sexual assaults covering a period from 1961 until 1989. He only served four years of a nearly 20-year prison sentence for his crimes and now lives on a family property near Port au Port, Nfld., on a church pension.

Greg Stack, a lawyer representing most of the victims, says, "With this diocese there was no attempt to settle, there was no bargaining. They just litigated this thing all the way, right to the Supreme Court of Canada." The Supreme Court of Canada upheld lower court rulings against the diocese in March 2004.

The Diocese of St. George is hoping that contributions from parishioners will help to recover at least a third of the properties up for sale. Abuse claims have bankrupted other church organizations, including the Christian Brothers of Canada and the Anglican diocese of Cariboo, in British Columbia.


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