The Roman Catholic Church in Ontario has been ordered to pay a total of $2.57 million in damages to a man who was sexually molested by a priest 50 years ago.
The four-woman, two-man jury at the Ontario Superior Court has ordered the Toronto-based Catholic order Congregation of St. Basil to pay $500,000 in punitive damages to Rod MacLeod for the abuses committed by deceased priest William Hodgson "Hod" Marshall.
According to Globe and Mail, Marshall had sexually abused MacLeod 50 times between 1963 and 1967 when the victim was attending the St. Charles College High School in Sudbury.
Marshall, who served as a gym teacher at the school, came to be known as "Happy Hands" for his constant molestation of the students. In 1996, Marshall had admitted to the church that he had abused between 58 and 87 victims over a period of thirty years.
The priest was jailed for two years in 2011 after being convicted of the assault of 16 children and a woman. At least 17 lawsuits were filed against Marshall, but most were settled out of court. He was defrocked in 2013 at his own request and passed away at the age of 92 in 2014.
During the closing arguments, MacLeod's lawyer, Rob Talach, had described Marshall as "a barrel of toxic waste: Every time he abused, it was like that barrel was leaking." He pointed out that the Catholic order responded to the reports of abuse by simply moving the priest to another community, including Rochester, N.Y., Toronto, Windsor, Ontario and Sudbury.
According to The London Free Press, allegations of abuse against Marshall went as far back as 1947, but he was allowed to continue to serve as a priest.
As many as six reports were made against him during his tenure, including at the time of his retirement in 1989.
The denounced the Catholic order's actions in a document indicating the reasons why it was ordered to pay punitive damages.
"Concealment: Silent shuffle undertaken to divert ... avoiding scandal, neglected to document offences. Put children in harm's way – grossly negligent. No reconciliation with victims. ... Betrayal of trust with the community," the document stated, as reported by Globe and Mail.
In total, MacLeod will be receiving $2.57 million, which includes compensation for lost wages, suffering and lost enjoyment of life.
MacLeod, now 68, said that the emotional and psychological trauma from the abuse still "bubbles up inside me."
The London Free Press reported that he had abruptly left a career in the military as well as a strong career in the construction business.
"That's been the story of my life. I have great success and then it just falls apart because of this energy inside that says, 'Look, you are not worth anything," he said.
He expressed relief that the court proceedings that forced him to revisit the abuse had concluded. "Finally we've reached the end here," he remarked.