SCARRED FOR LIFE

Law­suit al­leges sex­ual abuse by priest com­mit­ted against Cal­gary high school stu­dent in early 1980s

Calgary Sun - - NEWS - MEGHAN POTKINS mpotkins@post­media.com @mpotkins

When Brian was a teenager, he at­tended the fu­neral of a man he says sex­u­ally abused him for months.

He sat in St. Mary’s Cathe­dral in Jan­uary 1983, for the spe­cial fu­neral mass presided over by the bishop: a solemn oc­ca­sion be­fit­ting the un­timely death of a much-loved priest.

“It was huge. Ev­ery­one in full re­galia and I was just one lit­tle per­son in this whole church,” re­calls Brian. “They saw him as a saint.” On Wed­nes­day, a law­suit was filed in Cal­gary court against a re­li­gious or­der of the Catholic church, al­leg­ing decades-old sex­ual abuse at the hands of a Cal­gary priest and teacher at Bishop Grandin High School that left a for­mer Cal­gary res­i­dent per­ma­nently scarred.

None of the al­le­ga­tions have been proven in court. Post­media has agreed not to pub­lish the plain­tiff’s full name.

The suit is one of the first of its kind to be filed in Al­berta since the prov­ince elim­i­nated the two-year time lim­i­ta­tion for vic­tims of sex­ual abuse to sue in civil court, bring­ing the prov­ince in line with most Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tions, in­clud­ing On­tario and B.C.

The 53-year-old plain­tiff is a for­mer head al­tar boy, Catholic youth group mem­ber and Bishop Grandin stu­dent who al­leges he was re­peat­edly abused by Fa­ther Fred­er­ick Cahill for sev­eral months in 1981.

Cahill was a priest and English teacher at Bishop Grandin from 1969 un­til his death in 1983. He also di­rected the ‘Search’ pro­gram for youth in the Cal­gary dio­cese and was chap­lain to the Colum­bus Boys’ Camp at Water­ton Lakes Na­tional Park.

For Brian, it all be­gan with a post­card that ar­rived from Cahill in the sum­mer af­ter Grade 10: “He said how much he ap­pre­ci­ated my friend­ship and was hop­ing to get to know me bet­ter.”

The teen shared that he had an in­ter­est in join­ing the priest­hood and Cahill re­sponded en­thu­si­as­ti­cally.

“That was like the cat’s meow, you know what I mean? Be­cause it’s like, ‘Oh wow, a priest wants to spend time with me and pay at­ten­tion to me.’”

They saw each other with in­creas­ing fre­quency at school, in weekly masses with which Brian as­sisted as part of his youth group. The teen was thrilled when Cahill of­fered to teach him to drive when his own dad was too busy with work.

They would meet on Satur­days and drive to­gether out­side of Cal­gary, usu­ally re­turn­ing to Brian’s house by 6 p.m. “I re­mem­ber he would put his hand on my thigh while I was driv­ing. I tried not to think of it as a big deal, I felt he was a lit­tle lonely.”

Brian says if any­body had any reser­va­tions about Cahill tak­ing par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in him, they didn’t share them.

The night ev­ery­thing changed, Cahill had even come to Brian’s door in Mid­na­pore to meet his par­ents be­fore the pair de­parted to go camp­ing near Water­ton Lakes Na­tional Park.

Brian al­leges Cahill took him to an empty sum­mer camp op­er­ated by the Knights of Colum­bus be­cause “he wanted to show me some­thing.”

He re­calls be­ing asked to lie down on a blue vinyl-cov­ered mat­tress in­side one of the build­ings at the camp.

“He laid on top of me. He told me he had the same ex­pe­ri­ence when he was younger from a priest with red hair who loved him and re­spected him and got him into the priest­hood,” says Brian. “I froze. The next thing I knew he un­did my pants.”

The state­ment of claim al­leges a pat­tern of re­peated abuse that in­creased in fre­quency and in­ten­sity af­ter that — of­ten while camp­ing, some­times in Cahill’s sta­tion wagon, Brian says.

Sup­pliEd im­aGE from biShop GraNdiN yEar­book

fr. frEd­Er­ick cahill Bishop Grandin High School

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.