Judge rejects $28-million class-action settlement in Catholic church sex abuse case

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MONTREAL — A Quebec Superior Court judge has rejected a $28-million settlement in a sex abuse lawsuit against a Catholic religious order because of the high legal fees associated with the agreement.

The agreement would have awarded the Montreal law firm Arsenault, Dufresne and Wee, which represented the plaintiffs, more than $8 million in fees.

Justice Thomas M. Davis wrote in a July 4 decision that those fees were "excessive" and not in the interest of the more than 375 sexual abuse victims who were part of the class action.

Davis says the firm did "remarkable work" and that he expects a new agreement with reasonable fees can be reached and resubmitted to the court.

The suit against the Quebec-based Catholic religious order the Clerics of St-Viateur, involved acts committed between 1935 and the present at more than 20 establishments run by the group, including boarding schools.

In July 2021, one priest from the order, Rev. Jean Pilon, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for criminal acts of a sexual nature against a dozen victims who were minors at the time of the crimes between 1961 and 1989.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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