The Congregation of Holy Cross has agreed to pay up to $17 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by victims of sexual abuse at three Quebec schools it operated.
In addition to the payment, the Roman Catholic religious order issued a formal apology.
"We will do our best to ensure that the victims can finally throw off the veil of silence, heal from the wounds they have suffered and fully embrace their future," the Rev. Jean-Pierre Aumont, the congregation's Canadian provincial superior, wrote in the apology.
See the full statement at: http://www.ste-croix.qc.ca/actualites/lettre_pere_aumont_en.pdf.
The settlement covers incidents from 1950 to 2001, mostly at a Montreal boarding school formerly run by the order, the New York Times reported. A separate criminal investigation is continuing.
The congregation is the same religious order that founded the University of Notre Dame.
It is unclear whether the cost of the settlement will be paid by the order's Canadian province or shared by the entire religious order. The Tribune contacted the office of the congregation's U.S. provincial office in South Bend, but an office spokeswoman said Monday she could provide no additional information.
The $17 million settlement is believed to be the most ever awarded in Quebec and perhaps even in Canada, the Canadian Press news service reported.
The agreement stemmed from an out-of-court mediated settlement, spurred by the threat of a lawsuit by four of the earliest victims to come forward.
The agreement applies to three now-defunct Quebec institutions: Montreal's College Notre-Dame between 1960 and 2001; College Saint-Cesaire, south of Montreal, between 1960 and 1991; and Ecole Notre Dame in the Lower St. Lawrence region (1959-1964).
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe: