St. Mike’s sex abuse victim sues priest

Parent Central, Canada/August 9, 2011

A former St. Michael’s College School student abused by Rev. William Hodgson Marshall, a convicted serial molester who taught at the Toronto boys’ Catholic high school, is suing the priest and his religious order, the Congregation of St. Basil, for just over $2 million.

“I’m doing this because 58 years ago, the Basilians failed to protect me and others from a pedophile priest/teacher who was charged with our care” said Kenneth Hills, 73, an author and retired teacher.

Hills, who attended St. Mike’s in the early 1950s, says Marshall’s attacks on him began in the school’s gym office when he was a member of the midget basketball team. The priest was his coach.

“I want the Catholic hierarchy to take notice and adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward pedophilia and immediately defrock any clergy who commits this heinous crime.”

This allegations were contained in a claim filed Monday in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Marshall, 88, was sentenced in June to two years in prison after pleading guilty to 17 counts of indecent assault, including attacks on Hills, that spanned a 40-year period. Sixteen of the victims were boys whom Marshall abused during his teaching and coaching stints in Windsor, Sudbury and Toronto. One victim was female.

Rev. Timothy Scott, the CSB spokesperson, said his order acknowledges Marshall’s actions were criminal when he was acting as a Basilian priest. As for civil matters, “issues of liability are worked out by courts of law and we’ll deal with these realities as they present themselves to us,” Scott said.

Hills was only seven when his father died — the youngest child born to a devout Roman Catholic family who regularly consulted priests for spiritual and domestic guidance. He stated in his claim that Marshall exploited that position of power and authority in abusing him, commanding Hills not to tell anyone of the assaults.

Hills’ claim further stated that Marshall sexually assaulted him at least two separate times after the coach asked him to report to the gym office. The assaults consisted of wrestling Hills “into submission” and fondling his genitals under his clothing.

Hills alleges the Basilian organization was negligent in ensuring his safety and “failed to properly or adequately investigate allegations of abuse by many other former students and/or parishioners of Marshall’s.”

By the age of 19, Hills said he felt a profound loss of spiritual direction and contemplated joining the priesthood to regain it. He entered the Basilian order as a novitiate but quit after three days.

The former St. Mike’s student claimed Marshall’s sexual assaults caused him to develop “psychological mechanisms” in order to survive the trauma of abuse, including denial, repression, disassociation and guilt.

Hills, who is represented by Toronto lawyer Simona T. Jellinek, is claiming $1.5 million in special damages and $300,000 in general damages. He’s also asking for $250,000 in aggravated damages, plus costs and any further relief the court may award.

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