B.C. victim sues estate of priest sex offender and Catholic church officials

In May 1989, Harold McIntee, then aged 59, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of sexual assault against males.

1989 file photo of Harold McIntee being led away by a Williams Lake sheriff.

By Keith Fraser

A B.C. man who claims he was one of 17 young men who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest over a period of 25 years is suing the perpetrator’s estate and Catholic Church officials for damages.

The victim, who is only identified by initials in the lawsuit, says that while on assignment in and around Terrace in 1981 or 1982, Father Harold Daniel McIntee sexually abused him and two other young men.

He says that while staying overnight at the Secret Heart rectory with McIntee, he was experiencing abdominal pain and McIntee asked him to remove his pants to see if he had a swollen testicle.The plaintiff, who was then aged 17 or 18, says that in the remote mining community of Kitsault, where the priest helped him to gain employment, McIntee climbed into his bed asking for a hug and proceeded to place his hand inside his shorts and masturbate his genitals.

McIntee allegedly committed the abuse in the context of a pattern of grooming that was designed to gain the plaintiff’s trust, break down his boundaries, and maintain his silence.

In May 1989, McIntee, then aged 59, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of sexual assault against young men, including an offence against the plaintiff, according to the lawsuit, and was sentenced to two years in jail and three years probation.“The grooming and abuse by McIntee were not isolated occurrences perpetrated by a lone deviant,” says the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

“The grooming and abuse suffered by the plaintiff was a perpetuation of a nearly 2,000-year history, pattern and continuum of systemic abuse suffered by children and vulnerable persons in dioceses and at institutions run by various Roman Catholic entities in Canada and throughout the world.”

The lawsuit says that prior to being in Terrace, McIntee was involved in the First Nations Ministry at St. Joseph’s Indian Residential School in Williams Lake between 1959 and 1963, serving alongside Glenn William Doughty, who was also ordained by the religious order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Doughty was later charged with and convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of young males, says the suit.McIntee also served alongside and under Father Hubert O’Connor, who was the principal of St. Joseph’s and later became Bishop of Prince George until 1991 when he resigned amidst multiple charges of sexual abuse of Indigenous girls, it says.

“At all material times, the (Oblates of Mary Immaculate) knew or ought to have known that many of its priests and brothers, including but not limited to McIntee, had a propensity to groom and sexually abuse vulnerable persons,” says the writ.

The plaintiff claims that the cause of the grooming and abuse of the plaintiff is rooted in the culture of the church, which he says permitted “dark networks” to form where clergy abusers identified and communicated with one another about their abuse of children.

“The plaintiff says the culture permitted similar dark networks to form in Western Canada, causing or contributing to his grooming and abuse.”

As a result of the alleged abuse, he claims he has suffered injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder, a major depressive disorder, chronic sleep disturbance and fatigue, diminished capacity for intimacy impacting his social relationships and confusion over his sexual orientation.

He is seeking a declaration that the church’s culture constitutes a public nuisance and is seeking damages.

No response has yet been filed to the lawsuit, which contains allegations that have not been tested in court. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, one of the named defendants, could not be reached for comment.

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