Former Vernon Catholic priest being sued over sex abuse allegations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Former Vernon Catholic priest being sued over sex abuse allegations

October 02, 2019 - 7:00 AM

VERNON - A Vernon man has launched a court case against a former Catholic priest who he alleges sexually abused him when he was a teenager more than 40 years ago.

Court documents filed at the Vernon courthouse Sept. 25 claim Father Herbert Bourne sexually abused the man when he was working as a priest at the St. James Catholic Church in Vernon in the 1970s.

"Father Bourne committed such tortious act on the plaintiff when he wrongfully and intentionally sexually, emotionally and mentally abused and traumatized the plaintiff," the statements of claim says.

The plaintiff filed the Supreme Court suit against the now-deceased priest's estate and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops.

The legal action is the second case to be launched against the deceased Vernon priest.

The plaintiff's brother also launched a case against Father Bourne and the Diocese of Kamloops in May. Court documents say the brother, who is now in his mid-fifties, was also sexually abused by the priest when he was 14.

According to the court documents the man, who's now 57, claims to have been abused by the priest for approximately two years when he was ages 15 to 17. The abuse took place at a back room in the church, at the priest's home, as well as the priest's vehicle and also at the man's home, he alleges.

"Father Bourne committed such tortious acts on the plaintiff when he knew at all material times, that the plaintiff was a minor in age," the documents say.

iNFOnews.ca has chosen not to name the complainant. 

The court documents say the conduct of Father Bourne was "intentional" and "malicious" and the abuse was carried out "with the knowledge" it would cause "humiliation, indignity, physical and emotional harm and mental distress and injury."

The court documents say the Diocese of Kamloops breached its duty to the man, by failing to "protect" the then-teenager from the priest.

"The Diocese failed to act when it knew or ought to have known, or was wilfully blind to the abuse of the plaintiff by Father Bourne," the statement of claim says.

The documents go on to say the Diocese failed to "adequately observe the extraordinary habits of Father Bourne when it knew, or ought to have known, about such habits." The documents do not give further details of these extraordinary habits.

"The Diocese took no reasonable steps to stop the sexual abuse and the plaintiff has suffered devastating emotional effects," the court documents say.

In 2016, a former elementary school teacher launched a lawsuit against the Diocese of Kamloops alleging she was sexually abused by a priest in Kamloops in the 1970s.

The lawsuit filed in Vernon says the Diocese is "vicariously liable" for the abuse committed by the priest and that the man has suffered "the loss of enjoyment of life."

The documents say the man has been left with various psychological disabilities including an impaired ability to trust or be intimate, as well as a lack of self-worth and a feeling of shame. Depression and anxiety are also listed along with substance abuse.

The court documents do not give a dollar figure in the damages sort by the plaintiff.

No statement of defence has yet been filed by the church.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.


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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