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Supreme Court of Canada decision coming today in N.L.'s Mount Cashel sex abuse case

Last Updated Jan 14, 2021 at 2:44 am MST

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — A decision today from Canada’s highest court will determine whether a decades-long legal battle over sexual abuse that took place at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s, N.L., will finally come to an end.

The Supreme Court of Canada will release its decision this morning on whether the archdiocese of St. John’s can appeal a ruling stating that the city’s Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation is liable for the abuse of boys at the orphanage in the 1950s.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal ruled in July the church was on the hook for the abuse. 

In September, the archdiocese asked to appeal that decision, saying the ruling set a precedent with “profound implications” for its future operations.

Geoff Budden, the victims’ lawyer, says if the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal, the case will go through another hearing later this year. 

If the court decides against hearing the appeal, Budden says the archdiocese will have to pay about $2 million, which will be shared by the four lead plaintiffs, who are now in their 70s and 80s.

There are dozens of other victims and a process will be established to determine how much, if anything, they may be entitled to, Budden said in an interview Wednesday. “Obviously they are very alert to the importance of (the decision),” he said.

The legal process began in December 1990 and Budden estimates he’s been in court 30 or 40 times to see the case through to this point. 

“It’s been a long process and this may mark the end of it,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

The Canadian Press