Ex-priest, Angli­can dio­cese face civil suit

The Beacon Herald - - NEWS - JANE SIMS

Dis­graced ex-cleric David Nor­ton’s le­gal trou­bles ap­pear to go way be­yond the crim­i­nal courts.

The for­mer Angli­can priest who was con­victed Tues­day of four counts of in­de­cent as­sault and one count of sex­ual as­sault in­volv­ing boys from Chippe­was of the Thames First Na­tion al­ready is fac­ing civil ac­tion from an­other vic­tim in Lon­don and a coun­ter­claim from the Dio­cese of Huron.

The plain­tiff in a $4.9-mil­lion law­suit against Nor­ton and the Dio­cese of Huron is the vic­tim in Nor­ton’s sex­ual in­ter­fer­ence con­vic­tion reg­is­tered ear­lier this year, who was abused by the priest at St. Mark’s parish in the 1990s.

Nor­ton, 72, pleaded guilty in March and was sen­tenced in Au­gust to four years in prison.

The St. Mark’s vic­tim, whose iden­tity is pro­tected by court or­der in the crim­i­nal trial, ap­proached the Lon­don po­lice after indigenous men brought charges in 2015 against Nor­ton for abuse in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The civil suit was filed after the charge in the St. Mark’s case was laid in 2016.

“We’ve been wait­ing for the pros­e­cu­tion to end be­fore go­ing forth with the civil mat­ter,” said the man’s civil lawyer Paul Le­droit, of Lon­don.

Nor­ton worked as a priest in the Ba­hamas be­fore min­is­ter­ing at Chippe­was and Oneida from 1976 to 1983. He was sent to the Yukon in 1983.

No civil ac­tions have been started by any of the four vic­tims from the Chippe­was case, all of whom were al­tar boys at St. An­drew’s church on the re­serve.

The state­ment of claim in the St. Mark’s boy’s law­suit hasn’t been proven in civil court, al­though Nor­ton en­tered into an agreed state­ment of facts out­lin­ing the sex­ual abuse when he pleaded guilty in crim­i­nal court.

The state­ment of claim, filed in court, al­leges Nor­ton used his po­si­tion of trust as a priest “to de­velop a close per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with the plain­tiff and his fam­ily when he was young.”

That re­la­tion­ship al­lowed Nor­ton “to ex­ert to­tal con­trol over him, prey upon him and sex­u­ally abuse him.”

The abuse be­gan in 1990 when the plain­tiff was 10 years old and con­tin­ued for four years. The state­ment claim lists fondling, mas­tur­ba­tion and other sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties.

The plain­tiff also is su­ing the dio­cese, say­ing knew or ought to have known Nor­ton “had the propen­sity to en­gage in de­viant be­hav­iours and that he was, in fact, en­gag­ing in such de­viant be­hav­iour.”

The plain­tiff says he has suf­fered phys­i­cal pain, men­tal an­guish, ner­vous shock, shame, guilt, a loss of re­li­gion, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion, loss of in­come and ed­u­ca­tion and “a loss of en­joy­ment of life.”

In a state­ment of de­fence, the dio­cese de­nied “each and ev­ery al­le­ga­tion in the state­ment of claim.”

They deny Nor­ton was an em­ployee and they deny they knew about his ac­tiv­i­ties. They also deny the boy was in­jured.

The dio­cese has is­sued a claim against Nor­ton, hold­ing him solely re­spon­si­ble for any li­a­bil­ity.

The case is to be tried in Lon­don.

Lon­don Free Press

We’ve been wait­ing for the pros­e­cu­tion to end be­fore go­ing forth with the civil mat­ter.” Paul Le­droit, civil lawyer


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