FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2021
While justice has been done today, Catholic Network for Women’s Equality (CNWE) -Canada calls Diocese of London to enter into mediated settlement with Irene Deschenes, rather than re-victimizing Irene with another civil process.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled in favour of clergy sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes and her right to a new settlement with the Diocese of London. The Diocese misrepresented itself in the initial settlement, claiming no knowledge of the abuse, when in fact it had received a police report of three victims abused by Fr. Charles Sylvestre almost a decade before Irene was abused. In 2006, Fr. Sylvestre pleaded guilty and was convicted of the historical sexual abuse of dozens of girls over a period of 36 years.
Rather than settling with Irene and offering her healing in this decades-long battle, the Diocese appealed the decisions of two lower courts that ruled in favour of Irene, and took this case to the highest court in the land. This misuse of legal power and resources by the diocese contradicts Vatican and diocesan guidelines recommending expeditious, just and compassionate settlements for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The statement from the Diocese of London, following the ruling today says: “We believe in treating victims with the empathy and respect needed to help them receive justice and begin the healing process.” It’s long past time for the Diocese of London to make this claim credible and enter into mediation for a swift and just settlement with Irene Deschenes.
Catholic Network for Women’s Equality continues to stand in solidarity with Irene Deschenes and all survivors of clergy sexual abuse.