B.C. bishop described former Kamloops priest accused of sex assaults as being a "playboy": lawyer

Former archbishop Adam Exner, who at the time of the allegations was the Bishop of Kamloops and is expected to testify next week, made the comments during an examination for discovery in the case of Rosemary Anderson, who claims that Father Erlindo Molon sexually assaulted her over a period of months in 1976 and 1977 in Kamloops

A priest accused of sexual assault in Kamloops in the 1970s was described as being “promiscuous” and a “playboy” by his former bishop during pre-trial proceedings for a B.C. Supreme Court civil trial, a judge heard on Monday.

Former archbishop Adam Exner, who at the time of the allegations was the bishop of Kamloops and is expected to testify next week, made the comments during an examination for discovery in the case of Rosemary Anderson, who claims that Father Erlindo Molon sexually assaulted her over a period of months in 1976 and 1977.

article continues below

Anderson’s lawsuit, filed in December 2016, also names the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Kamloops as a defendant, alleging that Exner, despite being aware of a pattern of alleged sexual misconduct involving Molon, was negligent and failed to adequately protect her and other parishioners at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in North Kamloops.

Exner, 90, who was archbishop of Vancouver from 1991 to 2004, admitted during the pre-trial discovery that early in 1976, “people” came to him to report concerns about Molon’s sexual involvement with one or more parishioners and that he felt he had to do something about him, Sandra Kovacs, a lawyer for Anderson, said Monday.

Archbishop Adam Exner
A 1996 photo of Archbishop Adam Exner.

The rumours about Molon began shortly after he was active as a priest in the parish and “kept coming,” Exner said, noting he tried to verity the rumours. He said he launched an investigating, but did not recording any of those investigations in writing, Kovacs told B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Crossin.

“Father Molon, in the Archbishop’s own words, was ‘a playboy.’ He calls Father Molon “promiscuous.” He admits, in his own words, that Father Molon ‘was taking advantage of quite a few people.’ Specifically, he was having ‘inappropriate relationships with women.’” Kovacs said.

The plaintiff’s lawyer said Exner did speak to Molon, who he said admitted to the rumours and shrugged his shoulders, saying, ‘I’m human.’

Exner admitted he shared the concerns about Molon with some of his “close collaborators,” including the Presbyteral counsel,” Kovacs said. “He and other clergy put pressure on Father Molon to correct his behaviour in the spring of 1976.”

Kovacs said Exner had considered removing Father Molon, but “still wanted to leave a door open for possibility of rehabilitation, although he wasn’t co-operative in any sense to his offer of rehabilitation.”

Then-bishop Exner allowed Molon to stay on, with full faculties without restriction, and Molon continued to provide care to parishioners, including female parishioners, Kovacs told the judge.

Anderson said that in September 1976, she was then 26 years of age and had just been hired to begin teaching at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help school. She claims she was grieving the death of her father at the time and sought spiritual guidance from Molon, but that the priest took advantage of her and breached the boundaries of the priest-parishioner relationship. Anderson said Molon “raped” her between 75 and 100 times, the attacks happening at the rectory and in her apartment.

“During the period of the assaults, Ms. Anderson says she felt frozen,” Kovacs said. “Trapped. Coerced. Manipulated. Threatened. She had no idea how to get out of the hell she will say that she was living in.”

Anderson will testify that she met with Exner in early 1977 in an attempt to “make it right,” thinking she should ask the bishop if she should marry Molon, said Kovacs.

Exner admitted in his discovery that her report to him was the “final straw that broke the camel’s back” and that Molon had taken advantage of Anderson who Exner viewed as being vulnerable, she said.

“Archbishop Exner admits he was concerned about the effect of the events involving Father Molon with the parishioners, and that it was a scandal,” Kovacs said. “Removing the scandal was the foremost concern.”

Anderson will say that despite her report of the abuse to Exner, the sexual assaults by Molon continued for a period of time, said the plaintiff’s lawyer.

In or around March 1977, Exner verbally dismissed Molon from the parish, Kovacs said, adding that Archbishop Exner did not immediately inform the parishioners that he had suspended Father Molon.

The judge was told that Molon, 88, is not taking part in the trial. Molon who suffers from dementia, is living in a long-term care facility in Kingston and has filed a response to the lawsuit denying the allegations.

The bishop also denies the allegations of negligence.

On Monday, the judge ordered that parts of an expert report by the plaintiff be redacted. Anderson is expected to begin her testimony on Tuesday.

© Kamloops This Week

 


KTW Daily News Alerts
KAMLOOPS WEATHER

Question of the Week POLL

Which Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidate gets your vote in the Oct. 21 federal election?

or  view results

Popular Kamloops This Week

Events Calendar