Warning: This story contains details of child sexual abuse that may be distressing to some readers.
A Delta man is alleging a now-dead Roman Catholic priest sexually abused him in Vernon and has named a Kamloops bishop and Montreal archbishop as defendants.
A notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 29 alleges that between 1981 and 1989, when “A.B.” was between the ages of four and 12, Father Walter Lallemand groomed the child for abuse, exposed himself and sexually assaulted the child.
“The abuse suffered by the plaintiff was a perpetuation of the pattern and continuum of systemic child abuse suffered by children at institutions run by various Roman Catholic entities in Canada and throughout the world, including but not limited to the institutional defendants,” the claim filed by lawyer Sandra Kovacs said.
Named in the case are the estate of Lallemand; Archbishop Emeritus Adam Exner, Bishop Emeritus Lawrence Sabatini; The Roman Catholic Bishop of Kamloops, a Corporation Sole, La Corporation Archiépiscopal Catholique Romaine de Montreal; L’Archevêque Catholique Romaine de Montreal; and Archbishop Christian Lépine.
The claim said Lallemand was in a position of trust over A.B. and that he was an employee or agent of the church. The institutional defendants had a duty to prevent foreseeable harm caused by a priest under their supervision, the claim stated.
“The abuse . . . constitutes sexual assault, sexual battery, and intentional infliction of pain, suffering, and mental distress,” the claim alleged.
The suit said Lallemand visited Vernon in the summer, staying in the St. James church rectory and frequently in A.B.’s family’s home.
“He was expressly or implicitly invited by the Kamloops diocese, Exner, and/or Sabatini, to minister to parishioners at St. James every summer,” the claim said.
Exner was bishop in Kamloops from 1974 to 1982 and was succeeded by Sabatini, who held the position until 1999, the claim said.
Lallemand died in October 1998. He was ordained in Montreal in 1954, according to court documents.
The claim said the Montreal archdiocese “knew or ought to have known that Lallemand had engaged in similar grooming and sexual abuse of minors in Montreal or elsewhere” and failed to warn the Vernon church community.
Montreal archdiocese spokesperson Erika Jacinto said the notice of civil claim is with church lawyers.
“We do not desire to make any comments at this time,” she said.
The Kamloops diocese has yet to respond to a request for comment.
None of the allegations have been proven or tested in court.