Canadian Man Files Suit Alleging Abuse at Hands of Catholic Bishop, SNAP Responds

A man from the Yukon has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was abused as a teenager by a Catholic bishop from the Diocese of Whitehorse. We applaud this brave survivor for coming forward and hope that his story will encourage others who may be suffering in silence to speak out, make a report to police, and start healing.

According to the suit, the man was abused by Bishop Hubert O’Connor in the late 1980’s while his family attended Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Teslin. The lawsuit argues that Catholic officials in Whitehorse should have known about the dangers posed by Bishop O’Connor because there had been prior complaints of sexual misconduct against him.

This is a disturbing story that not only demonstrates the worldwide diaspora of clergy abuse, but also the sad truth that some perpetrators were able to climb the institutional ladder and reach positions of incredible power and influence. Diocesan officials themselves have acknowledged that there are “previous claims” against Bishop O’Connor, which makes his ascension to the hierarchy even more baffling.

Fortunately, thanks to Canada’s legal system, there are no limitations on when survivors of child sexual abuse can file a claim, giving this victim an opportunity for his day in court. We hope that American legislators will look to the example of Canada and continue to introduce and pass legislation to reform the statute of limitations in this country.

Finally, we call on Catholic officials in Whitehorse to reveal information about the earlier claims against Bishop O’Connor, as well as any priests that worked under him who may have been accused. When there is rot at the top, it is likely that it also goes all the way down.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, zhiner@snapnetwork.org)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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