Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Retired minister sued for sex abuse

Neepawa man abused girl, 7, in 1979

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A retired United Church minister who pleaded guilty earlier this year to molesting a seven-year-old girl in 1979 has more legal troubles.

Retired minister George Cargo is being sued by the victim.

The attack occurred when the woman, now 39, was living near Canora, Sask., where Cargo was the minister of the local United Church.

Cargo went to the then seven-year-old's family home and sexually assaulted her.

Cargo later moved to Neepawa to serve the United Church there until his retirement in 2009. He still lives in Neepawa.

The woman approached the United Church in June 2011 with her complaint and was advised to contact police.

Cargo, now 66, was charged in January and pleaded guilty in February to a charge of indecent assault. In May, a Saskatchewan court gave him an 18-month conditional sentence with curfew restrictions.

The woman is also suing the United Church of Canada, alleging "Cargo's actions were not isolated to acts of abuse" toward her, and the church is responsible because it allowed Cargo to remain a minister in the community "to continue to carry out acts of abuse towards vulnerable minors."

Statements of defence have not been filed. A spokeswoman at the Toronto offices of the United Church of Canada said they would not comment until they've reviewed the court document.

At the time of Cargo's arrest, a local United Church official said, "In a community as large as us, although we try, we will have unscrupulous and conflicted people who will breach the trust given to them in the position they hold."

In the statement of claim filed at the Court of Queen's Bench, the woman said her family were members of the Canora church in 1979 and had relied on Cargo for spiritual guidance and emotional care.

The woman wants the court to award her unspecified costs for punitive and aggravated damages.

She states she has suffered emotional and psychological harm, stress, anxiety, anguish, fear, has been limited in her ability to hold and keep a good job and has incurred significant therapy and counselling expenses.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 29, 2012 A9

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