Column: Appeal shows London diocese not ready to ‘do the right thing,’ sex abuse survivor says

Catholic Diocese of London

Title: Column: Appeal shows London diocese not ready to ‘do the right thing,’ sex abuse survivor says
Author: Jane Sims
Publisher: The Province
Date: 21AUG2020

Once again, the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, as Irene Deschenes said, isn’t ready to “do the right thing.”You could set your watch this week for when the diocese would drop its application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, hoping to overturn a lower court decision allowing the sexual abuse survivor to reopen her two-decades-old civil case.

Deschenes had already brushed away any fleeting thought that the church might back off so she could move forward. The application arrived right at deadline.

“It’s painful enough to try to recover from the effects of sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic priest,” said Deschenes, 58, at her news conference Thursday.

“It’s more painful to recover from the effects of legal bullying that the church and their lawyers put victims through again and again.”

The church hasn’t offered any comment, but if it thinks all this legal effort will stop Deschenes, one of Canada’s most fearless survivors of sexual abuse by a priest, it should think again.

Deschenes is both a victim and whistleblower of prolific pedophile Charles Sylvestre, the defrocked priest who died at 84 in 2007, months into his three-year sentence for indecently assaulting 47 little girls over four decades in Windsor, London, Sarnia, Chatham and Pain Court.

Deschenes knew Sylvestre was a monster in a collar, but was convinced the church didn’t believe her in 1992 when, as a 31-year-old mom, she complained about Sylvestre abusing her from ages 10 to 12.

To bolster her claims, she ran newspaper ads and collected stories from Sylvestre’s victims. She settled a civil suit in 2000 when she couldn’t prove the church had prior knowledge of Sylvestre’s activities. But in 2004, the church agreed to drop a gag order, letting Deschenes take all those testimonials to the Chatham police.

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