Former altar boys allege abuse

The Chatham Daily News, UK/August 10, 2011

A London law firm is accusing a Roman Catholic priest of sexually abusing four young males.

Ledroit Beckett Litigation Lawyers plans to launch civil lawsuits against the Diocese of London alleging abuse by Fr. Bernard Alphonse Robert, a former priest of the Diocese.

The alleged abuse took place at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Tilbury, where Robert was pastor in the 1970s and 1980s.

Robert is deceased.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the law firm said the alleged victims will appear at a news conference on Friday.

"By speaking publicly, victims of Fr. Robert hope to promote awareness and reach out to others who may have seen, suspected or suffered abuse by Fr. Robert," Ledroit Beckett said. ?

Robert also served at St. Mary's Parish in Blenheim from 1958-1969, at St. Matthew's in Alvinston and Our Lady Help of Christians in Watford from 1969-1973, and Holy Family in Wallaceburg from 1989-1993.

"Some of the brave men, former altar boys of Fr. Robert, are now breaking their silence and seeking justice," the law firm said.

"They hope to achieve healing and closure from harm they have suffered, and continue to suffer, as a result of the abuse. The victims intend to hold the Diocese of London accountable for Fr. Robert's misconduct."

The Diocese of London is aware of the allegations, which came forward after Robert's death, said spokesman Mark Adkinson.

"Any victim should be free to report abuse that occurred by a priest or clergy," he said in an interview late Wednesday.

"We will work through the process with these victims. We are committed to living up to our responsibilities and counselling will be offered to the victims."

The news conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Travelodge on Bloomfield Road in Chatham.

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