March 31, 2005

Priest, diocese named in suit

London Free Press

JOE BELANGER, Free Press Reporter 2005-03-31 03:23:34

A couple from Brazil filed a $3.1-million lawsuit yesterday against the Roman Catholic diocese of London, claiming sexual harassment by a priest at a London church. The couple alleges the priest used his position as their spiritual leader and supporter of their immigration application, first to demand sexual favours from the woman and later to quell the complaint.

Jose and Isabel Do Prado, who are in Canada on visitors' and work visas while they apply for landed immigrant status, filed the suit yesterday in Superior Court.

In an interview, Jose Do Prado said the couple filed the lawsuit because they want people to know the truth.

"We don't want people to be misled. We want justice."

Named as defendants are Rev. Lucio Xavier Couto, Bishop Ronald Peter Fabbro and the diocese.

In a statement last night, the diocese said: "The diocese of London has received a statement of claim alleging misconduct by one of our priests. We take all such allegations very seriously. We are studying the statement of claim and we will prepare our response."

The statement of claim contains allegations not yet proven in court. It states that Isabel Do Prado suffered "sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, sexual assault and battery" at the hands of Couto while working as a housekeeper at the rectory of Holy Cross Church between September 2000 and May 2002.

The suit claims that when the Do Prados confronted Couto, both were "wrongfully" fired.

Posted by kshaw at March 31, 2005 06:48 AM