Three Chatham Women Speaking Up After Alleged Sexual Abuse

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A retired Chatham priest is being sued for sexual assault.

Three Chatham women, now in their 60s, have filed a civil lawsuit against James Blonde alleging sexual abuse in 1971 and 1972 while he was a priest at Blessed Sacrament Church in Chatham.

Lawyer Rob Talach, who represents the women, alleges touching and hugging by Blonde escalated into sexual abuse.

“Back rubs that go beyond back rubs, activities that you would not expect a priest to be engaged in but in the third woman’s case, it definitely crossed the line and proceeded and showed what happens if you didn’t stop it and it proceeded to some very clear sexual abuse,” claims Talach.

Talach, of London law firm Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers, says the women are seeking $3-million each for pain and suffering, impact on their education and employment, and ongoing counselling.

Talach says these cases usually take two to four years to go through the court and few make it to trial. He says most of these claims are resolved in the $200,000 to $500,000 range.

Talach says the women, Blonde and the London Diocese will all be questioned about what happened decades ago.

“Most importantly, especially to listeners in the Chatham area. If they have any information, either good or bad, that either supports this or tells a different story, we’d be very interested in hearing from them,” Talach says.

Talach says the alleged abuse went on for a long time.

“In two of the cases it was a number of months and in the one case it approached a period of a year and a half,” says Talach.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London has no comment at the moment, but it’s aware of the claim.