The Kamloops Roman Catholic Diocese will pay a priest’s sexual abuse victim $844,140 in damages, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Aug. 25.
Rosemary Anderson, now 70, alleged in a Dec. 22, 2016, notice of civil claim that sexual abuse at the hands of Erlindo Molon, now 88, started when she was 26. She names Molon and the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops, A Corporation Sole, in the claim.
She had sought solace from her priest after the death of her father in September 1976. Instead, Molon began groping her, starting a sexual relationship that went on for several months. Anderson testified she felt trapped.
“Molon’s conduct was an egregious, and indeed reprehensible, abuse of power,” Crossin said in his decision. “He exploited the vulnerability of a young woman entrusted to his care to engage in a prolonged and repeated course of sexual exploitation. His conduct was clearly wrong, by the standards of any time. He also demonstrated a brazen indifference to the harm caused by his actions.”
Anderson said she’s grateful for Crossin’s “firm conclusion that the evidence ‘paints a disturbing picture of a priest pursuing, for his own prurient interests, the calculated exploitation of a young woman who was obviously, at that stage of her life, in dire need of emotional and spiritual care.’”
Last October in court, Anderson’s lawyer Sandra Kovacs said Molon “raped” her client 75 to 100 times.
“Fr. Molon was clearly in a position of moral power and authority. It became immediately apparent that he had little regard for her welfare,” Crossin said. “What he did hold in high regard was his visceral sexual needs, and he exploited the plaintiff for that purpose.”
Molon’s superior at the time, Archbishop Adam Exner, now 90, conceded on the stand that Molon “was molesting people,” including Anderson. And, it was Anderson who went to see Exner about the situation.
She told Exner that Molon had suggested they marry. Instead, she said, she was told to leave the diocese.
Molon was soon stripped of his ability to be a priest.
Exner later, archbishop of Vancouver, testified before Crossin, discussing his dealings with Anderson and his knowledge of Molon’s sexual habits.
Exner testified Molon as a “playboy.”
Crossin said Exner “effectively conceded a failure of leadership, responsibility, and care. The bishop recognizes now, and I believe recognized at the relevant time, there was a right path and there was a wrong path concerning his engagement with Fr. Molon and the plaintiff. In my view, he chose the wrong path.”
Anderson said she’s pleased Crossin held the diocese directly negligent “for failing to take reasonable steps to protect me from a risk of harm it knew existed.”
The award is significantly more than the $60,000 suggested by the church although Rosemary Anderson had sought $2.45 million.
Molon did not participate in the trial as he is in a care home in Ontario.