Kamloops Catholic Church and Priest Ordered to Pay Over $800,000 After “Playboy Priest” Slept With Parishioner

Reasons for judgment were published this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, ordering a “playboy priest” along with the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops to pay over $800,000 in damages as a result of a sexual relationship between the priest and the Plaintiff parishioner dating back to the 1970’s.

In this week’s case (Anderson v. Molon) the Plaintiff was employed as an elementary school teacher at a Catholic school in Kamloops, BC.   The Defendant at that time an assistant pastor living in the rectory at the same parish.

After the Plaintiff’s father died she sought “comfort and solace” from the Defendant.  Instead a sexual relationship formed which the court summarized as follows:

[35]         The offices of Fr. Molon were in the rectory. Connected to his office was his bedroom, through a door.

[36]         The plaintiff and Fr. Molon met in his office. They were seated close enough to enable the two to make physical contact. The plaintiff was quite upset. In due course, Fr. Molon asked if he could hold her hand. He also touched her right shoulder and right knee. The plaintiff testified that she immediately wondered to herself if the contact was sexual and concluded, in her own mind, that she did not think so.

[40]         The plaintiff testified to an image of his hands on her; taking her by the hand, and leading her to his bedroom through the door connecting the office to his bedroom. She has no images of what then occurred, until the next morning. The plaintiff testified that she remembered waking up. She told him it was wrong. Fr. Molon told the plaintiff that he had uncles in the Philippines that had mistresses and it was okay to have mistresses.

[41]         This sexual relationship continued for some months until approximately February or March 1977. The plaintiff states she felt trapped and didn’t know how to end it. She testified she allowed it to happen in the sense that she couldn’t stop it. She often froze with the hope that whatever was occurring would end quickly. The plaintiff made it clear she derived no pleasure from the sexual encounters. She testified she was not freely participating. The plaintiff estimates that she and Fr. Molon had intercourse 70 to 100 times over the course of these months.

The Court went on to find this relationship was “born of a betrayal of trust and perpetuated by an abuse of power“.  In finding the Defendant liable in battery and extending liability to the Diocese vicariously Mr. Justice Crossin provided the following reasons:

[179]     The tort of battery is made out upon proof of an intentional infliction of unlawful force on another person: Norberg v. Wynrib, [1992] 2 S.C.R. 226 at 246 [Norberg]. Although consent is a defence to a claim in battery, the onus lies upon the defendant to prove the physical contact was consensual: Non-Marine Underwriters, Lloyd’s of London v. Scalera, 2000 SCC 24.

[180]     The plaintiff testified that she was sexually abused by Fr. Molon multiple times between the fall of 1976 and the spring of 1977. Fr. Molon did not appear at trial, and there was no evidence that could establish the basis of a valid defence.

[181]     In any case, the plaintiff argues that she could not have consented to the sexual activity, because of the power imbalance between her and Fr. Molon. Consent must be meaningful, voluntary, and genuine to be effective: P.P. v D.D., 2016 ONSC 258 at para. 83. In this context, consent obtained through the exploitation of a position of power is often referred to as vitiated consent. In my view, this is a phrase that ought to leave the lexicon in this area. Consent obtained through the exploitation of a position of power is no consent at all. I am satisfied that Fr. Molon is liable in battery for the sexual abuse on the plaintiff that took place between September 1976 and May 1977.

[182]     The Diocese has conceded vicarious liability: it is therefore jointly and severally liable for this same abuse.

Anderson v. Molon, Battery, bc injury law, Clergy Abuse, Mr. Justice Crossin, Sexual Abuse, vicarious liability

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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