A historic court motion was made just 31 days after the judge heard the argument. Justice D.R Aston has ruled in favour of sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes and her lawyer’s motion to re-open her civil suit against the Diocese of London and defamed Catholic Priest Charles Sylvestre 18 years after it was settled. Deschenes was sexually abused by Sylvestre in the 1970’s while he was a priest in Chatham, and during a media conference at Strathroy’s Women’s Rural Resource Centre, claims the church knew about his abuse years prior, following the discovery of a 1962 Sarnia police report.
The report was discovered shortly after Sylvestre’s 2006 trial, where he plead guilty to indecently assaulting 47 girls between 1954 and 1986. He died in prison at age 84 just three months into his three year sentence. More victims came forward following a Chatham police investigation launched after Deschenes and the second victim’s 2000 settlement. Deschenes and another victim nor their lawyers were aware of the police report when they settled their suit in 2000, which led to Deschenes and Toronto attorney Loretta Merritt to file for the motion to re-open the suit. Merrit argued the church knew all along about Sylvestre’s indiscretions, and did not act accordingly. On November 27th of this year, Justice Aston agreed. It’s unclear whether the church will go to court or seek a new settlement and Merritt says if this goes to court, it could take another 2-4 years before the case is settled. myFM has been unable to reach the Diocese of London for comment, who have previously declined comment on this case to other media outlets. The church has 15 days from November 27th to appeal the court’s decision.