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Man alleging sexual abuse at B.C. seminary wants former employee to appear for discovery

A man who alleges he was sexually abused by Mission Roman Catholic priests and a seminary employee wants that employee to appear for discovery.
A former employee of a Mission seminary who allegedly sexually abused a student may be called to appear for a lawyers' discovery meeting in the case.

Warning: This story contains disturbing details that could be distressing to some readers.

A man seeking damages for sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen during his time at a Mission Roman Catholic seminary wants one defendant to appear for discovery hearings. 

An application was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on March 21 to have Shawn Rohrbach appear for the hearings, where lawyers can ask under-oath, pre-trial questions.

The defendants listed in the suit are: Seminary of Christ the King; Westminster Abbey Ltd.; the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole; Emerick Lazar; Harold Vincent Sander a.k.a. Dom Placidus Sander; Rohrbach and John Doe.

Mark O’Neill alleges Rohrbach, a college student employed at the seminary, sexually abused him between 1974 and 1978 while he was a student. He alleges Rohrbach performed oral sex on him and that he pestered younger boys in a shower room.

“On more than one occasion, the defendant Rohrbach entered the plaintiff’s shower stall and touched the plaintiff’s genital region,” the claim said.

It's also alleged Rohrbach attempted to rape the boy in 1979 in Coquitlam.

O’Neill alleges Lazar, a priest, broke his arm. Sander, also a priest, then allegedly delayed access to medical treatment to conceal the fracture. Sander died in 2021, according to the suit.

The claim alleges the defendants were systematically negligent and had “complicity in a culture of entrenched clericalism and distorted beliefs that implicitly promoted the psychosexual immaturity of priests and seminarians, perpetuating sexually deviant behaviour.”

The application also seeks documents from the Roman Catholics Diocese of Kamloops related to Rohrbach.

O’Neill has already successfully applied to the court to have former Vancouver Roman Catholic Archbishop Adam Exner appear for discovery. In agreeing to the request, the consenting judge set rules to assist Exner due to his age. The retired cleric is now 93.

O’Neill alleges the office of the archbishop negligently failed to mitigate known risks posed by the other defendants and is vicariously liable for their conduct.

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