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Vancouver archdiocese, priest order deny sex abuse allegations

Lawsuit alleges priests 'misrepresented ... sexual assaults and battery as acceptable to God.'
Ronald Wayne Petruk, 76, filed suit earlier this summer against the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole, and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate | Getty Images

Vancouver’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese and a church order of priests have denied any involvement in or liability for alleged sexual abuse of a youth by three priests.

Ronald Wayne Petruk, 76, filed suit against The Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver (RCAV), a Corporation Sole and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

In the suit, Petruk describes multiple assaults by three named and other priests, one in a church at Easter. He alleges he was forced to watch priests having sex with each other.

A dead former B.C. Roman Catholic bishop, convicted in 1997 of rape and indecent assault against residential school students, is among priests were named in a notice of civil claim, filed in BC Supreme Court June 18.

The suit names the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole, and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate as defendants.

The now-dead Bishop Hubert O'Connor, Father Allan MacInnis and Father Jim Roberts are named as alleged abusers in the lawsuit.

Both the Oblates and the archdiocese, in their response to civil claim dated August 19 and July 17 respectively, denied the multiple allegations of abuse in the claim both organizations, further saying they are only liable for activities related to priests’ employment.

“The RCAV denies that any of the alleged assaults occurred, as alleged or at all,” the RCAV response said.

Further, the archdiocese said, neither O’Connor nor MacInnis was “an employee, servant or agent” of the archdiocese.

“None of the acts alleged in the notice of civil claim to have been perpetrated by Father Innis or Father O’Connor were carried out with any express or implied authorization of the RCAV, nor were any such acts in any way connected with any scope of authority that may have been provided to them by the RCAV at any material time,” the RCAV response said.

The allegations said the priests “misrepresented the sexual assaults and battery as acceptable to God, as part of the plaintiff’s education, and as consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, intending the persuade the plaintiff to submit to the sexual assaults and battery.”

“The Oblates deny that Father MacInnis, Father O’Connor, Father Roberts and/or any Oblates made representations about the sexual assaults and battery as being acceptable to God as part of the plaintiff’s education, and as consistent with the Roman Catholic Church,” the Oblates’ response said.

Further, it said, “to any extent that alleged abuse occurred, which is patently denied, it was perpetrated through coercion, manipulation and/or abuse of power in any way related” to the Roman Catholic Church or the Oblates beliefs and/or through the agency or employment of the three priests by the Oblates.

The allegations said Oblate Father MacInnis is a brother of Petruk’s foster mother and would pay frequent visits with other Oblates during which a lot of alcohol was consumed.

The Oblates response denied MacInnis or any member of the Oblates “engaged in such conduct.”

When Petruk was about 13, the claim said, Father MacInnis twice took him into a room and began rubbing the front of his legs.

Shortly after, according to the claim, MacInnis told Petruk he had to teach him about sex and took him again to the room. O’Connor allegedly joined them.

The claim said MacInnis pulled down the child’s pants and the priests remarked on the fact he was not circumcised. MacInnis allegedly exposed his own genitals and began to touch the youth sexually.

O’Connor then allegedly grabbed the teen from behind and sexually assaulted him.

“The pain made the plaintiff scream and fight harder to get away,” the claim said. “Eventually, the plaintiff broke away and ran and hid under his bed in the basement.”

He alleged the incidents and grooming for further alleged assaults continued, at one point with Roberts allegedly forcing him to drink unconsecrated communion wine before an Easter service before sexually assaulting him in the church sacristy.

The RCAV denied Roberts was a presiding priest at the plaintiff’s church at material times, denied Roberts was acting under the authority or scope of his employment and denied it is vicariously liable for any alleged assault by Roberts.

“The RCAV denies that those alleged assaults were caused or contributed to by any fault, negligence, omission or breach of any obligations of the RCAV,” the response said.

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