Assault Allegations: The Estate of Father Georges Fournier Presents Its Defense

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Allegations of assault: the estate of Father Georges Fournier presents its defense

Father Georges Fournier of Edmundston passed away on October 2, 2021. He was 91 years old.

New development in the case of Father Georges Fournier, a late Catholic priest from Madawaska, New Brunswick targeted by allegations of sexual assault. His estate alleges the two plaintiffs only turned to court when they learned they were not to receive an inheritance.

Two plaintiffs – a wife and one of his sons – filed civil suits in the Court of King's Bench on January 21, 2022 against the Diocese of Edmundston, the Edmundston Diocese Foundation and the estate of Father Georges Fournier.

They allege that they were sexually assaulted on numerous occasions by the man of the Church, from 1976 to 1987, when they lived at the presbytery of Saint-Hilaire. The complainant states that the alleged assaults began when he was five years old.

The executors of Father Georges Fournier, his nephews Claude Fournier and Bernard LeBel, responded to these notices of prosecution on September 12, through defense statements.

In the documents, obtained by Radio-Canada Acadie, they claim to have no knowledge of the shares of Fournier, who died in 2021 at the age of 91.

Those responsible for Father Fournier's estate question some allegations and outright deny others.

They claim they visited their uncle at the Saint-Hilaire rectory in when the complainants lived there. They say they never witnessed anything that would confirm the plaintiffs' claims.

They claim that the plaintiffs seemed to enjoy themselves, seemed happy and quite comfortable staying at the presbytery and that they maintained a good relationship with Father Georges Fournier after leaving the presbytery in 1989.

The persons in charge of the estate of Father Fournier allege that the complainant visited the man of the Church and that she brought him dishes that she had prepared, and this, until his dead. She would also have invited him to meals with his family during the holidays.

Father Georges Fournier in 1974.

In their defense notice, Claude Fournier and Bernard LeBel allege that it was only after learning that they were not Father Fournier's heirs that the two plaintiffs decided to sue in the Court of King's Bench.

Bernard LeBel alleges that the complainant called him a few days after the funeral of Father Georges Fournier, celebrated on October 9, 2021. She then told him that she was aware that the deceased had left money for her two sons.

She would have expressed the wish to obtain this money quickly, to give it to one of her sons.

Note that the will of Father Georges had not even been homologated yet and that Father Georges was not even buried, we read in the presentation of the defense of the succession.

During this telephone call, the plaintiff allegedly told Bernard LeBel that she had witnessed financial shenanigans committed by Father Fournier when he was the parish priest of Saint-Hilaire and that this is why she and her sons had left the presbytery in 1989.

Also during this call, the complainant allegedly told Bernard LeBel that she would not hesitate to denounce the financial shenanigans of Father Georges in the Catholic Diocese of Edmundston and that this risked becoming a big story. She would also have told Bernard LeBel that she knew he would make the right decisions.

The presbytery of Saint-Hilaire, New Brunswick. The complainants allege that it was there that they were sexually assaulted by Father Georges Fournier.

Father Fournier's will – obtained by Radio-Canada Acadie – stipulates that he bequeathed all his assets to his nephews Bernard LeBel and Claude Fournier. Assets which amounted to $189,691, after payment of funeral expenses and debts. The will does not mention the names of the plaintiffs.

Estate officials strongly submit that the lawsuits filed by the two plaintiffs are vexatious, frivolous and without merit. They ask the Court of King's Bench to dismiss them.

The other parties – namely the Diocese and the Foundation – have filed documents indicating their intention to present a defence. They have not yet filed their statement of defense.

The allegations made in the notice of defense of those responsible for the estate of Father Georges Fournier – like those found in the notices of prosecution of the two plaintiffs – n have not been proven in court.

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