A judge has authorized a class-action lawsuit to go ahead against Granby’s Collège Mont-Sacré-Coeur on behalf of former students who say they were sexually abused there.
Robert Kugler, of the law firm Kugler, Kandestin, is leading the case, and said more than 70 people have come forward with abuse complaints over the years. The span of class action covers the time frame from 1932, when the school was founded, until 2008, when the order of Les Frères du Sacré Coeur was no longer in charge.
“We expect more people will come forward,” Kugler said. “The objective is to make sure that anyone who was sexually abused is eligible to benefit from this class action. We have heard from victims in the 1940s, the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, so we have little doubt the abuse occurred before then and after then.”
Kugler said the extent of the alleged abuse seems to be larger than originally thought.
“We have amended the class action to cover all the abusers who were disclosed to us and there were 11. There may be more; we don’t know that,” he said.
In one of the cases, reported in the Gazette in 2016, a former student alleged that, starting at age 13 and from 1972 to 1975, he was abused more than 300 times when he was a boarder and Brother Claude Lebeau, a dorm supervisor.
Now that the class-action suit has been authorized, it will take about a year to proceed to court. If it is successful, others who can show they have been abused by staff at the school could be eligible for compensation.
Kugler said anyone who feels they have been a victim should contact him at 514-878-2861, Ext. 116. That also goes for others who have suffered from abuse in other situations.
“We keep their names and any identifying information confidential, so they need to have no fear to come forward,” he said.Related has experience with similar actions. On Nov. 17, he filed a petition for authorization in Quebec Superior Court, targeting the Servites de Marie religious order and Collège Servite, formerly known as Collège Notre-Dame des Servites, in Ayer’s Cliff.
The lead plaintiff in that case alleges he was repeatedly sexually abused by Father Jacques Desgrandchamps between 1973 and 1975. He says he was 12 when the abuse started when Desgrandchamps, who taught different subjects at the high school, asked him to help correct other students’ history tests. Within a few days, he said, Desgrandchamps started inviting him to his room, where he sexually abused him on numerous occasions. The alleged acts included forced oral sex “several times a week” and, on one occasion, an attempt to sodomize him.
In both cases, the accusations have not been proven in court.
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