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Priest sexual abuse alleged in northern B.C. diocese lawsuit

It's alleged Father Emile Jungbluth sexually assaulted a child between 1971 and 1977.
Catholic-church-Artem Bolshakov-istock-Getty Images Plus
A woman alleges she was abused by a Roman Catholic priest working at a Kelly Lake, B.C. church.

A northern B.C. woman is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Prince George with allegations she was sexually abused as a child by a priest.

The B.C. Supreme Court notice of civil claim, filed on April 19, alleges Father Emile Jungbluth sexually assaulted the child between 1971 and 1977. The court documents name The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Prince Rupert, also known as the Diocese of Prince George, as the defendant.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Seth Wheeldon, said a court anonymization order is being sought for her name.

“The perpetrator used his position of authority and trust, also the fact that the plaintiff was a young child, to ensure that the plaintiff did not tell anyone about his wrongdoing,” said the claim, filed by lawyer Christopher McDougall. “In order to facilitate abuses, the perpetrator engaged in a pattern of behaviour which was intended to make the plaintiff feel that it was unsafe to report the wrongdoings of the perpetrator.”

The claim against the diocese is that it gave Jungbluth power and authority within their institution, “turning the perpetrator into a trusted authority figure to the plaintiff’s family, and the plaintiff, who was young, vulnerable and in need of guidance.”

The claims said Jungbluth worked at the Church of St. Anne. Searches show the church to be in Kelly Lake, B.C., just east of Tumbler Ridge near the Alberta border.

The claim said the alleged abuse occurred on a repeated basis, increasing in frequency, nature and intensity as time progressed. It alleges the diocese was negligent in not protecting the child and created the risk of sexual abuse.

The court documents alleges the diocese failed to investigate Jungbluth’s background and, among other things, failed to have a reporting system in place.

The claim alleges the woman has experienced physical and mental pain; post-traumatic stress disorder; shame, guilt and low self esteem; depression; anxiety; loss of relationships; mistrust of men and authority figures; sexual dysfunction and addiction.

The claim seeks general, special and punitive damages.

The diocese did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.