Bathurst church gets cheque from insurers for sexual abuse victims

The Diocese of Bathurst has received the cheque from its insurance company, Aviva, in relation to sexual abuse scandals from decades ago.

The two engaged in a lengthy court battle that ended last spring over who should pay victims of Catholic priests who were seeking compensation.

The church had been arguing the insurance policy at the time of the abuse included coverage for "bodily injury caused intentionally by … the archdiocese."

But the insurers claimed the church failed in its obligation to disclose information about the abuse, and the coverage was therefore void.

In May, the Supreme Court refused hearing the case, thereby ordering Aviva to pay $3.4 million, as New Brunswick's court of appeal had ruled.

"It'll always be painful," said Rev. Wesley Wade, vicar general for the Diocese of Bathurst.

CBC

"But we had to find a way out."

The case relates to allegations of sexual abuse against various priests in the diocese dating back to between the late 1950s and early 1980s.

About 50 cases were involved in this legal battle between church and insurers, there were many more victims in Bathurst and the northeast of the province who went to court.

"The storm is over," said Wade, who is relieved to turn a page, at least financially.

All Bathurst victims compensated

Wade said the diocese of Bathurst has no more outstanding lawsuits, and all victims have now been compensated.

Many of them were victims of former priest Levi Noël, who died in 2016 before he finished serving his prison sentence.

Conrad Brideau is one of them. He was sexually abused by Noël when he was 12. 

Bridget Yard/CBC News

He went after the diocese, and in August, got his money. His was the last in a series of lawsuits against the priest, who pleaded guilty at 84 years-old to sex crimes.

Brideau is glad to have the legal proceedings done with, but the pain will never go away.

"I've put it aside," said Brideau. "But it's still there."

"Am I satisfied? No, but it's the only road I felt I could take."