Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Brunswick Sex-Abuse Ruling Sets Record as More Victims Sue Their Tormentors

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Brunswick Sex-Abuse Ruling Sets Record as More Victims Sue Their Tormentors

Article excerpt

Lawyers applaud record sex-abuse damages

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FREDERICTON - Canadian lawyers are applauding a precedent-setting judgment for decades-old child abuse in New Brunswick, saying it's an important moment as more sex-abuse victims come forward to seek justice.

A 52-year-old woman was awarded $188,914 by the Court of Queen's Bench, including $125,000 for pain and suffering.

"It knocked my socks off," said Rob Talach, a London, Ont.-based injury lawyer, who deals with sexual assault cases across Canada.

He said until the July ruling, the ceiling for such awards in New Brunswick was $50,000.

"If you can imagine your worst nightmare of sexual crime and that would only yield $50,000 in the pain and suffering category. This recent decision bumps that ceiling up to $125,000. It's a substantial increase," he said.

The ruling brings New Brunswick closer to judgments in other provinces, as Canadian courts see increasing numbers of similar cases of victims suing their abusers.

Moncton lawyer Rene LeBlanc said publicity from cases involving the Catholic church and prominent people like Bill Cosby is prompting more people to come forward.

"A lot of people didn't realize that they have a right to seek civil justice for something that happened to them as children," he said.

"I think the press is probably the main driver for this. Now it's something that's covered a lot. Before it was something that was swept under the rug in the 1950s and '60s and so on, and people wouldn't speak up about it."

The New Brunswick woman, who cannot be identified, filed the lawsuit against her uncle because of sexual assaults that began when she was eight years old and continued until she was 20.

In his decision, Justice Larry Landry of the Court of Queen's Bench, said that although the $125,000 in general damages is higher than what is generally awarded in New Brunswick, he believed it was appropriate in this case. …

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