HALIFAX -- A Toronto-based law firm is looking for people to come forward and become a member of an ongoing sexual abuse class-action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.

The firm Koskie Minsky issued a news release Monday informing the public of the class action. The lawyers are calling on anyone who alleges they were sexually assaulted or battered by a priest of the archdiocese or its predecessor dioceses between 1960 and the present day to participate in the legal proceedings.

John McKiggan, one of the lawyers on the case, said the class action was authorized March 31.

The lawsuit was first filed by Douglas Champagne in 2018 on behalf of himself and other alleged sexual abuse survivors. They claim the archdiocese has a decades-long policy of secrecy on sexual abuse matters.

Court documents allege the priests developed intimate relationships with worshippers and used that access to commit acts of sexual assault.

"We don't know how many people are out there," McKiggan said in an interview Tuesday. "And that's one of the reasons why the court has required that there be a notice program to notify people of the existence of the class action so that they can come forward and participate if they wish to do so."

The archdiocese referred all questions to a statement Archbishop Anthony Mancini made in June, in which he said the archdiocese agreed to the certification of the class action. "The class action will provide the opportunity for all remaining victims who wish to advance a legal claim for compensation."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.