ellensagh

6. Stating a Claim

I received a letter from my new lawyer saying enclosed is a statement of claim for me to review and let them know inaccuracies; that the lawyer acting for the diocese wanted my lawyer to convey to me their offer that they will pay for treatment in an amount to be agreed if I were to give them a release in relation to the law suit. If it is not possible to finalize treatment, they are willing to pay for treatment on an ongoing basis. The diocese asked for further and better particulars about the paragraph that speaks to the knowledge of the diocese about the conduct of the priest in terms of his admission to them of past offences. My lawyer asked me to phone to discuss.
 The statement of claim was nine pages; the first page simply titled that saying in Saskatchewan Court, between me and Allinblack and the Diocesan Corporation of BigCity and who my lawyers were. The second page repeated the information with a notice to the defendant saying they have 20 days to enter a Statement of Defence or else a judgement will be made; that they can have the trial at a different place than where this statement was made; and that this statement of claim must be served within six months of being issued which was six months past April 4, 1997.
The next 6 pages were the Claim with points one to twenty – one.
1. I am the plaintiff and live in Saskatoon
2. the defendant and where he lived at time of abuse
3. the defendant, the diocese was at all times responsible for selection, appointment and conduct of priest and parish where he was stationed
4. that I was a practicing member of parish at which priest was pastor
5. that in his role as priest, that he was entrusted by diocese with exercising all duties of pastoral care of parish and its members, including me.
6. that when I was seven years of age, I attended parish and was preparing for first communion with the priest; that priest requested that I join him in confessional booth in the church and when I complied; he seized my arms; pulled me into his lap and held me forcibly there; at which time he committed various assaults and sexual acts upon me including: (a) touching my genitals (b) penetration of my vagina; which acts were committed upon me without my consent and which acts were a sexual assault.
7. that the sexual assault occurred while the priest was performing his duties as parish priest.
8. that I say the priest threatened me, saying that if I were to tell anyone about the sexual assault, I would lose my eyes.
9. that the battery and sexual assault by the priest caused me to develop certain psychological conditions in order to deal with the horrors of the sexual assault. These included denial, repression and guilt.
10. that I say after the assault upon me, the diocese was advised by priest that he had sexually assaulted numerous female children in certain parishes in the diocese, but the diocese failed to investigate the nature and extent of the assaults committed by the priest or to notify the victims, or possible victims, including me, or the parents or take such steps as was reasonably necessary to ensure that the victims received the necessary medical, therapeutic and financial assistance to mitigate the damage caused to each of them by the assaults. That the diocese instead returned the priest to the care of another parish without conducting a full investigation or reporting the assaults to the appropriate authorities.
11. that I say that the priest and diocese improperly and fraudulently concealed the sexual assault, having regard to the special fiduciary relationship between me and both the priest and the diocese.
12. that at all times, relevant to above, the priest held a position of authority and trust within the Roman Catholic community of which I was a member.
13. that the sexual assault upon me occurred on property owned and/or controlled by diocese and occupied by the parish of the diocese for the purpose of persuing the common interest of me and the diocese in the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. I say that the diocese and it’s agents knew or should have known at the time of selecting the priest for the parish and later through proper supervision and observation of the priest, in his role as parish priest ; that the diocese failed to take effective measures against the hazards such danger created.
14. that I say that the diocese knew or should have known that as a child, I was extremely vulnerable to sexual abuse by the priest, because of the power and authority he exerted over me as parish priest and because of the trust placed by me and my parents in him as a result of his position as my pastor; yet the diocese failed to take any steps necessary to prevent the assault and sexual assaults.
15. I say that the dioceses owed a fiduciary duty to me which arose from the power and authority vested in the diocese and the priest it selected for that parish over vulnerable persons by the Cannons of the Roman Catholic faith.
16. that the diocese owed a duty of care to me and they negligently performed their duty to me by; (a) failing to ensure that when the priest was selected as pastor for that parish; that he was properly suited to that role and was distinguished for his “integrity of morals” and possessed “those qualities which are required by universal and particular law to care for the parish” as required by Code of Cannon Law; (b) failing to check adequately, make reasonable inquiries or supervise the priest, in the conduct of his duties as parish priest in the parish, to ensure the physical and emotional safety of me while under the pastor care of the priest; (c) failed to investigate complaints or information received by the diocese regarding sexual misconduct of the priest; (d) failing to provide me with proper medical care, including treatment by a mental health professional, upon receiving complaints or information regarding the sexual misconduct of the priest.
17. that as a result of the priest’s deceit, assaults, sexual assaults and battery, the breach of fiduciary obligation and the breach of duty and breach of fiduciary obligations by the diocese, that I have been injured, the particulars of which are as follows:
 (a) I was unable to undergo normal and proper peer development
 (b) I am unable to undergo normal and proper sexual development
 (c) I had an impaired ability to experience sexual enjoyment
 (d) the relationships between me and my siblings have been harmed
 (e) I suffered from loss of some of my memory of childhood
 (f)I suffered psychological damage and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, has suffered post-traumatic stress disorder;
 (g) I have an impaired ability to trust other people and to form or sustain intimate relationships
 (h) that affections between myself and my family have been alienated
 (i) that my marital relationship has been impaired
 (j) my academic performance was impaired
 (k) I suffered continuing fear, humiliation and embarrassment
 (l) I suffered inability to concentrate
 (m) I suffered from an inability to express emotions
 (n) I suffered depression and anxiety
 (o) I suffered suicidal periods
 (p) I suffered headaches and other physical pain
 (q) I suffered from eating disorders
 (r)I suffered from sleep disorders
 (s) I suffered from feelings of lack of self-worth and low self-esteem.
18. that I will continue to incur expenses in obtaining proper psychiatric and psychological counselling and treatment which will be required on both an ongoing and crisis basis.
19. that I have foregone educational and career opportunities because of injuries
20. that I have suffered loss of enjoyment of life as a result of these injuries.
21. that I therefore claim against the priest and the diocese:
 (a) general damages
 (b) aggravated damages
 (c) punitive damages
 (d) special damages in an amount disclosed prior to a trial of this matter
 (e) compensation for breach of fiduciary duty
 (f) costs
 (g) pre-judgement interest in accordance with The Pre-Judgement Interest Act; and
such further and other relief as this Honorable Court may allow
And that this document was dated 3rd day of April, 1997 in Saskatoon, Canada and signed by my new lawyer’s partner.
Dad and Mom phoned the anniversary day of what would have been my sister, Louise’s birthday and I was able to ask Mom if it is hard for her, and to talk to Dad about the article being in the paper; saying to him, “at the time of the abuse; the women knew children were being abused; the women knew and couldn’t say out of their fear. “ After the phone call realized, the men had to know too because women discuss these things with their husbands and wonder which men went and did something about it because at that time women weren’t supposed to think or do. I know women knew as they told each other at the time to keep their kids away from the priest. I believe men knew and I believe there are men out there who did do something about it and the church; the ultimate authority; authority that the men feared; squelched them again.
 My mind was working overtime trying to figure out how I felt about the statement of claim; what the ramifications were. I couldn’t shut my mind off, couldn’t relax; so much fear going on. If the guy made a sexual advance, I was scared it would be a one night stand; when he said it’s just sex; that turned me off more. I looked up just and sex in the dictionary and it meant equitable state of being. Then when I could go for that, he wasn’t into it.
I finally talked to the lawyer and told them what I knew about what the diocese knew; that I was not certain the priest advised the diocese but certain that the priest said the diocese knew and knew the priest was still active as a parish priest and that he was seeking psychological help.
I went to Calgary with some women for a weekend of singing. A woman named Carolyn McDade who wrote songs about women, land and spirit; whose songs sprang from injustice led the weekend and we sang lines like; “you have touched a woman, you have touched a rock.” And “people are not hurt by strong women”
 Had a budget these days for the kids and I in this spring of 2007: Rent – $510; Bus Passes $105.00, Insurance, $12.10, Laundry $18.00 Telephone $80.00, City $45.00 Clarinet Lesson $60.00 Social Services Overpayment $25.00 Kid’s Hair Product $50.00, Student Loan $93.00 and every other cent went on groceries and trying to figure out how do kids plan for their graduations.
My youngest sister got married and what I wrote to them reflects what was going on for me: the picture I gave them reminds me that they follow their inner knowing; they act on it; and I see their connection to the universe and the land around them; that I hope they don’t lose their connectedness to the soil; that I see their strengths and the one tree in the picture symbolizes how they have brought their strengths together. I knew part of what had ended my marriage was too much black and white thinking and too much rigidity and I am learning balance; the balance I see in their living room. I wanted them to always keep colour and beauty in their life; saying they deserve the best, to always follow their inner knowing; that there are no always; never, all or nothings; and that I am finding it a joy when I can live in the moment.
 Saw a poster somewhere that said, we repeat the past until we learn from it. Is that true? I took a week off work and took a trip out to Prairietown; visited my sister, her husband and kids; held a weasel while I was there; had a ride on a motorcycle. I saw Mom and Dad and drove out to where I grew up on the farm but before I went there, walked around on the land where my mom and dad’s families had homesteaded and then went to the farm where I grew up; spending hours walking around the yard and in the fields. I found a green rock that fit in the palm of my hand. It was in the shape of a mountain; and it was so light and I thought when I picked it up; “I am over the mountain” and as I thought about how angry I had been the last while; felt the rock getting heavy in my hand. I was hoping all the anger and pain I was expressing walking around the farm, would transform.
When I got back to town, I showed Dad my rock and told him how angry I was; that when my memories of sexual abuse had first returned and I had told him what happened and he had said, “ It’s human nature,” how much that had hurt and still hurt. He kind of got angry saying I was just nit picking and wanting someone to blame; wanting to make others wrong; someone to be angry at and when I said, “ but what do I do with the anger?”; he didn’t say anymore. All was quiet and uncomfortable as we sat at the table drinking our tea and then he said by saying it’s human nature; he didn’t mean it was okay; or it was right; he just meant it had gone on for thousands of years. Something felt relieved inside me. Dad had a thing about rocks too. He was out in the garage later and all of a sudden he came in and said, “Here, I have a rock for you,” and handed me this rock telling me the story of where he had found it. I just wanted to pitch it. It looked like a man’s penis to me, and as Dad got to the end of his story; he said, “now doesn’t that look just like a toadstool”. He told me to take it with me as he knew I had a collection of rocks all over my house. I left it.
 I had a blue grey rock about the size of a small bird’s egg; oval like that but about one and a quarter inches long. I’d had it for a long time; and it was sitting on top of my fridge. The native woman I met with sometimes and I went out in the country to a spot on the river’s shore for a time together. She smudged and we shared our lives; and as a gift, I told her I’d like to give her my blue grey rock. As we continued sharing; I happened to look down at her hand and the rock had totally transformed in colour and was now green with sparkles in it. We were in awe. I told her about my light rock turning heavy and we discussed the possibility of energy leaving my body and the rock carrying it. I was wondering about lots of things; many times feeling like the birds were bringing me messages. When I had been in Prairietown; a magpie floated by me and it was surrounded in blue light and it was like I was speaking to it and it was replying. Thoughts would come to me that it was the wind, the rain, the sun, the land and also people and animals that got me through. That is my spirituality.
 Day after day I was feeling overwhelmed. It was reminding me of 1995 when I had worked at the drop in at Tamara’s House and then was too overwhelmed to be there and now with the workshops and the church presentations; and all that was going on in my personal life, I wanted to change the pattern as right then, I wanted to run away. I knew I was in a continuous process of healing; and had a pattern of creating more than I can cope with in my outer world; and tendency to run and hide until my inner world caught up and I wanted to change that I heard two openings were coming up in the city for community development. They both appealed to me but I didn’t want to be alone; I wanted to work with others in this area for change.

 Collage Mother’s Day 1997
Goodbye to all the extremes; all or nothing; always or never. There are times when I remind me of Dad; when my voice is rough, my expressions, my work, my actions, my inactions. There are times when I need; when I still need. When I all of a sudden put someone else ahead of myself; is that okay; I don’t think so. Not right now. I need to be there for myself first, considering others; yet I do that to myself sometimes; put others first and forget myself. So goodbye to casual encounters. I accept all of me. I don’t want a casual encounter with the wounded experience now emerging. It’s not who I am. Goodbye to stretching the truth; lying to myself and others. I no longer need the rigidity. I can stay flexible to get the most out of life. Goodbye to my search for power. I don’t need others power. I have my own. I am no longer lopsided; laying down accepting what others tell me; say to me or do to me. Goodbye to hopelessness; to no spirituality; no colour; goodbye to the black and white life I’ve had; Goodbye to the extremes this spring; the spring fling; It was fun while it lasted..It helped get into easy and then there are times when its okay to be easy ; to be beautifully connected. Are there circumstances beyond control? I can’t control everything. I can control some things. Goodbye to searching for happiness elsewhere. I can find it in me when I am connected. Life is easy if I stay connected to my body, to the earth and then the beauty of the universe will be mine if my body and mind are living in the present. Hello to listening to sad songs; and to smoking in my bedroom again and that’s okay; hello to the darkness and that’s okay; hello to asking for help; hello to saying I’m sorry when I’m wrong; saying I’m sorry to myself for doubting myself; my truth; Hello to accepting how hurt I am; how hurt I’ve been and will be again. Hello to wanting to be held and my desire to connect to all of me. Hello self-care; hello to standing up for myself; hello rage and it’s okay. I am okay. I can be enraged. I can be angry. I can say what I need to say to anyone; man or woman and it will be okay; I will take responsibility for my actions and my words. I always have as often as I could when it was safe to do so.
I went to a friend’s choir concert at her church on that Mother’s day evening; went home thinking how one song bugged me; God will protect you; no harm or something; slept from 10pm to 3 am and could hardly get out of bed; neck and back went rigid and into continual muscle spasms. Wrote, “I am so fucking angry I have to go thru this; Go to a fucking church choir concert and I can hardly get out of bed; can hardly move my neck; ;the upper part of my back feels like could break; I don’t want to be angry at myself and I know I am. I was angry in my dream. Dreaming a little girl won’t sleep anymore and her parents are just sitting around doing nothing and it feels like I have to do it all; and I am in the basement of a hospital and every time I try to get out; I hit a dead end and I keep seeing all these people who keep saying how are you and I’m smiling and say fine and I’m not fine. I know I’m not mentally ill; I’m just rightfully angry.
I went out in the country and screamed from 5am – 7 am and then phoned a board member and said I need a day off. Kept writing in my journal. I don’t know what beliefs I need to change; I just know I’m in pain, angry, bitter, resenting the works and I don’t want to be like that. Is there a point to any of this shit. I am mad at myself for overdoing it; feeling like I’m wallowing in my feelings; I’m not sure what that is about; I don’t wallow; I’m hurting; if positive thinking would get rid of this; I’d be over this a long time ago or wondering if I’m optimistic in front of other people but inside I thing I’m probably saying I’m not good enough; getting enough done. One of the psychiatrists I had given a talk to the week before was at the next table in the donut shop where I was writing. I wrote: I look like shit and I don’t care if he sees me. Every fucking thing in life is a reminder; wherever I go, whatever I do; read a book, hear a song; in the country, the deep, the crocuses and it just shows me I can’t run; there is no point; it’s always there; what’s inside me is dying to get out; no its rising to get out. This fucking time of year is a reminder; two years ago, I drove straight south screaming and screaming and this morning I drove east screaming and screaming. I keep repeating this shit and it’s no fucking fun. Is it ever over? Are we ever healed? How will I ever know? No one has told me. I know I will get thru. I can get thru most anything because I’ve been thru the horror and it will never again be that bad and now I don’t know what to do next.
I drove from the donut shop to the part of Saskatoon where I had first lived when my memories came back and started walking; past the bank, the doctor, where I had got gas; past where the kids had gone to school; as I was walking down the street past where we had lived; realized I couldn’t remember the house number and then when I was opposite the house; I couldn’t take another step as I had something sticking into my foot like a needle and I had to stop and take my shoe off and there sticking into my foot inside my shoe was a gold coloured half inch nail – my first thought was Jesus and how he was nailed. I took it out and held it as I kept walking; thinking too fucking weird; but felt like it confirmed to me what I had thought earlier; we are all Jesus and then kept remembering how angry I had been at the first priest who I told about these memories coming back and he had said to think of myself like Jesus; follow; take up our cross; we all suffer; and now I’m thinking we are all Jesus?? From there I walked to the church and when the woman at reception asked if she could help, I said I am either saying hello or bye to the Catholic church; went into the chapel and sat and bawled. Ended up talking to the priest there who was a young guy; mostly just cried; said that day couldn’t ask for what I need as I didn’t know what I need; best thing he said was that he didn’t have the answers but he could listen. I told him I believe there is something; God ; Universe; can’t think of it as a male God and every time I go into a Catholic church and see male figures; male priests, males with power; that I can’t handle where the church is at right now; how they treat homosexuality; how they discriminate against women; not okay; that I don’t want to be a part of what they do to people; but that I still believe if everyone leaves, nothings changes and then said No I don’t believe that anymore; if everyone left, it has to change. Mostly I cried and back was a lot better by the time I left his office. Sat in the beauty of the church and listened as a woman played Moonlight Sonata on the piano. By the end of the day, had sorted out that last year, I was wondering if anyone cared and this year, I knew I cared, lots of people care and realized I deserve better than I have had.
In about 10 days, I wrote a whole journal and realized I would probably not only have one book called Wanted: Someone to Understand but that the next book could be “I’ll Never Understand”

Collage May 17,1997 
 It’s time for a makeover. I’ve been making lists all my adult life and checking off everything I’ve got done, so I’d feel like I accomplished something and that helped me feel good about myself. Inside I question – who’ll stop the acid; the bitterness; the resentment; the hurting. I believed the well being of children depended on me doing as much as I could; I believed speaking out could make the difference and it did for me. I know I can do it but is the what I want to be doing two years from now. I know I no longer want what I’ve been living. If I welcomed you to my house, there is the professional part in me who is comfortable in most situations in the outer world. I love the action and eccentricity of life out there. It is what I’m comfortable with. Inside is a soft, gentle woman, happy in her own skin; a young girl who is just learning about life; a little afraid of what she’s seeing who wants to grow up and have a small part in the weaving of life. I want to send the old beliefs that don’t fit anymore packing but I don’t know where to send them. I don’t want them out in the universe. I am excited that today I feel like I am mostly sailing in my life; the inside and outside is reborn and there can be storms ahead. It’s taken me close to mid-life to realize it’s okay to cry. It’s like I have 6 aspects of myself – body mind and spirit and there’s a feminine and masculine side to each. I’m leaving behind the searching to be the apple of everyone’s eye; the setting a good example aspect. It allowed me to grow consciously; guiding the darkness to light. It’s now time to have my own life be first and what I recognize as these last pieces surface; the world of Barbie; the world of what a woman should be has grown bigger since I was small. Since I don’t want Barbie’s world, there isn’t a problem but as the experiences of my past resurface, it’s disconcerting how much has changed. As I decide what’s next, I want to use my guide within to look at the ten issues that matter most to me; on what I value. I am moving from the extremes of ‘community comes first’ and ‘God will protect you’ mentality to being free as a bird.
I worked for days at putting down what I value most; attempting to get a whole new belief system. Being in the moment, in the flow, growing continuously as I feel all my feelings; finding the sunshine, feeding myself; breathing, singing and sharing, listening to myself; learning and expanding; receive what life has to offer me and take in life.
And my friends listened and listened and listened to me.

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