Lawyer Robert Talach of the law firm of Ledroit Beckett is holding a press conference this afternoon at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Sudbury. He will be joined by 15 people who say they are victims of abuse by priests.
"It is both disturbing and disappointing that in this day and age a religious organization, whose mandate is supposed to be compassion and care, has failed to support victims,” Talach said in a news release. “It is time that they get with the program."
The press conference, the release stated, represents “a demand from victims of local Catholic priests for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie to do more to support victims.”
The 15 are demanding what they call “a simple trinity” of actions they would like the diocese to take to help them and protect any possible future victims.
This “trinity” includes:
1. Defrocking / laicization of convicted sex offenders: “Terminate them”;
2. The creation of a sexual abuse policy with victim input: “Confront it”; and
3. The commitment to fund victims’ psychological therapy: “Help them heal.”
Talach has represented victims of clergy sexual abuse for over a decade along with a number of area victims of clergy sexual abuse will be on hand at the conference.
A personal injury lawyer, Talach specializes in sexual abuse cases, and has represented hundreds of victims of sexual abuse, according to his biography on the Ledriot Beckett website.
He is the lawyer representing four Sudbury men in a four civil suits against Father William Hodgson Marshall, who was apparently commonly referred to as “Happy Hands” during the nine years (1961-1970) he worked at St. Charles College in Sudbury.
That suit, which was announced on March 28, 2012, also names the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, the Sudbury Catholic District School Board, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Bishop Ronald Peter Fabbro.
In June 2011, Marshall, 89, pleaded guilty in a Windsor, Ont. court to 17 sex assault charges for crimes committed in Toronto, Windsor, and Sudbury dating back to the 1950s.
Six of those victims were from Sudbury, while a further six were from Windsor and one was from Cambridge.
As Northern Life reported back in March, since December 2011, 14 lawsuits have been launched against Marshall out of Windsor, Toronto and Saskatchewan for similar crimes.
One of Marshall's victims, Denis Beland of Sudbury, encouraged any other victims to come forward.
“(Everybody) has their various reasons for not wanting to come forward,” Beland said. “My suggestion to them is, you might want to come forward just for yourself, to seek some counselling, to get the piano off your back. You feel less restrained and restricted, and it has a tremendous effect on raising your pride level.
“You were a kid, you were victimized by an adult. You didn't commit the crime, so why should you feel guilty as a victim?”