Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The Hanoski case remains in limbo at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kingston. When will we know its costs and ramifications?

Where the rubber hits the road.

The Joe Hanoski Case: 
Some questions still need answers. If the civil suit launched by Joe Hanoski is settled what has it cost the Diocese of Kingston? 

by Tom Thorne

One of the most read set of articles on this blog are the Joe Hanoski series that I wrote in 2012. These articles concern an alleged sexual abuse of Joe Hanoski by Father Paul Hamilton.  Another priest, Father Michael Reed is also mentioned in the Hanoski civil suit.  Both Fathers Hamilton and Reed remain on the books of the Diocese of Kingston at this time.

Even after two years these stories continue to be accessed all the time. There is a pent up interest concerning the outcome of this civil case and at the moment we do not know that outcome because it can be settled out of court. Silence by both Joe Hanoski and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kingston Ontario can be a provision of the settlement agreement. If that is true then this case remains an enigma.

In the case of retired priest Rene Labelle, also of the Kingston Roman Catholic Diocese, criminal charges were laid by the police and Crown and by January 2014, and after a very public trial offering details of the sexual assault, interference and exploitation Labelle was sentenced to 16 months in jail to be followed by 30 months of probation and counselling. A very public process. Currently Father Labelle is still listed as a priest by the Diocese of Kingston, in care of the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Kingston, Ontario.

The Joe Hanoski case is very different. Hanoski brought a civil suit rather than a criminal charge against father Paul Hamilton. The action was also registered against theRoman Catholic  Diocese of Kingston. Also mentioned in this case was Father Michael Reed. Father Hamilton was abruptly removed eight years before this suit was launched and sat in a limbo for almost a decade with no charges and no action on the part of the police or the Crown that I am aware of. Father Michael Reed was removed from his parish when Hanoski launched his civil suit.

Currently Father Paul Hamilton remains on the books of the Archdiocese of Kingston. He seems to remain in limbo at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. Father Michael Reed at the moment can be reached according to the Diocese website, through Blessed Sacrament Parish in Amherstview, Ontario where the pastor is Father Stan Alanen. A look at the parish website reveals no mention of Father Reed. Why is he listed at this parish in the Diocese website list of priests? Does he have duties at this parish? 

It seems that the Diocese of Kingston uses the Catholic Pastoral Centre as a place where priests languish when they are taken from their parishes. It also seems that when charges cannot be established beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal court alleged victims resort to a civil action to get justice.

As a member of a parish that is part of the Diocese of Kingston the silence about the Hanoski civil suit is irritating. Either the case is sitting in some kind of legal logjam or it is settled. If the civil suit was settled, then funds from the Diocese of Kingston or from some insurance company were used to get a settlement. 

Civil suits are not launched for esoteric reasons. There has to be a dollar value placed on the case. In addition, there are the legal costs for Hanoski’s lawyers and the lawyers for the Diocese of Kingston that have to be accounted for in any settlement.

In this case Hanoski sued for an alleged $3.5 million dollars.  There simply needs to be a transparent accounting of these costs by the Diocese including the legal costs on top of the settlement for defending the diocese’s liability for priests in this kind of trouble. 

© Copyright Tom Thorne 2014, All Rights Reserved.


  1. Archbishop Brendan O'Brien has responded to my email conerning the status of the Hanoski civil suit. He reports that there has not been a settlement.

  2. That is true. The case is ongoing. That is why there is as of yet no release of details. The reason that there were no charges filed is that a civil suit is the only way the complainant can retain some voice beyond that of witness. If there were a criminal charge, Joe (and any other complainants) wouldn't have much involvement any more. That could actually be much more traumatic for the victim.

  3. Civil suits are launched to get a financial settlement. Answer why the police never laid a charge? There is no criminal action in this case and if there were money would have nothing to do with it, The only thing that would matter would be a judgement by a court, a guilty verdict or innocence. If guilty there would be a sentence, probably with jail time as we saw with Rene Labelle.

  4. Your opening premise may need some clarification. There is usually the financial aspect, but sometimes that is secondary. It is usually the lawyers that decide on the amount. Most often in legitimate cases, the claimant would be content with an acknowledgement of wrong having been done to them. The money aspect helps to make the defendant take this seriously, but it isn't all about the money. As I said earlier, a criminal case would actually be much more traumatic for an already abused person.

  5. The cost of pursuing a civil action over $25,000 can be punishing if the plaintiff loses. There is a lot of plaintiff risk. A civil action like this one certainly exceeds the small claims court $25,000 ceiling which would be enough to make a point. No one would launch a $3 million suit without some knowledge that the legal costs of pursuing such a case could snowball for all concerned. It is somewhat incredulous to say this suit is launched without any thought of a money settlement with costs.

    My interest in this is the potential payout by the Diocese of Kingston and how that cost ultimately lands on all parishes. Again, I stress that the police have never laid a charge in this instance so what the issue to be settled is in this civil suit remains a mystery.

    I work up front as a journalist and I find your anonymous status in this discussion troublesome. Use this email if you want to meet: I am willing to keep your identity confidential.

  6. As I mentioned, the amount is often set by the lawyers, not the plaintiff. I never said that the money wasn't a factor, but that it wasn't necessarily the primary factor. Money may be important for many reasons: psychological trauma makes it difficult - near impossible to maintain employment. Therapy is needed. Relationships are irrevocably damaged. It's not really that easy for someone to "just move on" from this type of abuse. As for my anonymous status, there is a good reason that I maintain that. I'm not simply a troll, out to cause trouble. I'm sorry I cannot say more, Tom. I respect the work you are doing and the questions you raise.