B.C. man suing after being sexually abused at Vernon church | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. man suing after being sexually abused at Vernon church

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A third victim has come forward alleging they were sexually abused by a Catholic priest at St. James Church in Vernon.

In a statement of claim filed Nov. 29, a Lower Mainland man now in his mid-forties says he was sexually abused by the late Father Walter Lallemand throughout the 1980s.

The man, only identified as A.B. in the court documents, launched the case against the late priest's estate, along with two former bishops from Kamloops, Archbishop Adam Exner, and Bishop Lawrence Sabatini, and the Montreal Archdiocese.

According to court documents, A.B. alleges from 1981 to 1989 Lallemand "groomed" the plaintiff by befriending the plaintiff's family and gaining their trust, when he visited Vernon each summer from Montreal.

Lallemand would stay at the St. James rectory, and at A.B.'s family home, "bouncing the young plaintiff on his lap" and "tickling" him.

"The purpose of the grooming was to exploit the vulnerable plaintiff's and his family's faith and trust," reads the court document.

From 1981 to 1989 Father Lallemand sexually abused the plaintiff when he was between the ages of four and 12 years old, the plaintiff alleges.

READ MORE: Catholic church settles Vernon lawsuit, apologizes for sexual abuse

The case is the third allegation of sexual abuse taking place by a priest at St. James' Church.

In 2020 two brothers settled out of court in separate cases where they were sexually abused by the late Father Herbert Bourne at St James Church in the 1970s.

In both cases, they also included the Archdiocese of Kamloops in the court filings.

In September 2020 a Supreme Court Justice awarded almost $850,000 to a former teacher after the judge ruled the Archdiocese of Kamloops had failed to protect the teacher from the "predatory instincts" of a "playboy" priest, Father Erlindo Molon. The justice ruled Bishop Exner failed to act although he was well aware of Father Molon's conduct.

The notice of claim states the Archdiocese of Montreal knew or ought to have known that Lallemand had engaged in similar grooming and sexual abuse of minors in Montreal or elsewhere and failed to warn the Kamloops Archdiocese, putting the plaintiff and his family at risk.

"The abuse suffered by the plaintiff was a perpetuation of the pattern and continuum of systemic child abuse suffered by children at institutions run by various Roman Catholic entities in Canada and throughout the world," the notice of claim reads.

The court documents say the abuse constitutes sexual assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of pain, suffering, and mental distress.

A.B. accuses the church of failing to take reasonable steps to prevent the harm.

Lallemand was ordained in Montreal in 1954 and died in 1998.

Exner was the Archbishop of Kamloops from 1974 to 1982, the Sabatini became Bishop of Kamloops from 1982 to 1999.

None of the allegations have been proved in court and the defendants have yet to respond to the court filing.

READ MORE: Former Vernon Catholic priest being sued over sex abuse allegations

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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