Mentoring and Reintegrating Paedophiles
at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Ottawa
(Two perspectives on this novel process of embracing paedophiles and overlooking their crimes and the persistent threat they pose to children, a process embraced by Justice Normand Glaude and one which the Cornwall Public Inquiry seems set implement in Cornwall and throughout Eastern Ontario. First an article in the Ottawa Citizen praising the reintegration of choirmaster and convicted paedophile John Galienne; second a blog expressing abhorrence for the manner in which the reintegration process flaunted Anglican church directives and disgust with those who portray a convicted paedophile as a victim.)
Support circles help keep streets safe from sex offenders
They work with the worst of the worst. But these are no mere do-gooders, these bands of angels who offer society's most reviled outcasts the support they need to keep from reoffending. Don Butler reports on how this Canadian initiative is becoming something of an international cause celebre.
The Ottawa Citizen
11 May 2004
By: Don Butler
For the past decade, a band of angels has been watching over John Gallienne.
Mr. Gallienne is that most reviled of outcasts, a pedophile who sexually abused 13 choirboys when he was choirmaster and organist at an Anglican church in Kingston. He moved to Ottawa in 1994 after serving four years of a six-year prison sentence.
He was back in the public eye this week after news reports that he plays the organ and conducts an adult choir at St. John's, in defiance of a ban imposed 10 years ago by Ottawa's Anglican diocese. Bishop Peter Coffin, who heads the local diocese, is now considering whether Mr. Gallienne should be allowed to retain those roles.
That such a furore would erupt now, after Mr. Gallienne has been living in the community without incident for a decade, speaks to the fear and loathing that adheres to pedophiles like a stain no solvent can expunge.
All of which makes the willingness of a select few Canadians, often from faith communities, to befriend sex offenders like Mr. Gallienne all the more remarkable.
It would be easy to dismiss them as bleeding hearts, these volunteers -- naive do-gooders who see the world, and its manifest evils, through the rosiest of coloured glasses. Except that there is compelling evidence that circles of support and accountability, which began in Canada in 1994, are keeping all of us safer.
Robin Wilson, a Correctional Services of Canada psychologist, has been tracking two groups of 30 high-risk sex offenders since the late '90s. Among the 30 who belong to circles, only three have reoffended --just one in 10. By contrast, eight of those who lack the support of circles-- more than one in four -- have created new victims.
Mr. Wilson has also compared the reoffence rate of the two groups to actuarial projections, which compute the likelihood that high-risk sex offenders will commit more crimes. The projections indicate that 11 men in the circle groups should have committed new sex crimes by now.
"So in comparison to actuarial norms," he says, "there are eight people who should have reoffended who haven't."
"The results are extremely promising," says David Molzahn, a special advisor in the Correctional Service's chaplaincy unit, which funds the circles of support and accountability program. "They're far beyond what I think anybody ever imagined possible."
The result's even more impressive when you consider that circles of support and accountability target those at the highest risk of reoffending.
"We want to work with the worst of the worst," says Mr. Wilson. "We want to have the greatest effect with those people who are likely to do the greatest amount of damage."
The power of the circle process derives from its volunteers.
Typically, between four and six volunteers enter into an agreement, called a covenant, with a newly released sex offender, known as the "core member."
For a minimum of one year, the volunteers pledge to have daily contact with the sex offender, helping with such basic needs as finding employment and housing, attending medical appointments and shopping. They also undertake to hold him accountable if he shows signs of slipping into bad habits.
In return, the sex offender pledges to honour any conditions imposed by the court, which might include avoiding alcohol and areas where children gather, steer clear of high-risk behaviour and communicate honestly with other circle members.
Once a week, all members of the circle meet to review the past week's events, brainstorm solutions to problems, celebrate successes and develop plans for the week ahead.
Today, more than 60 circles of support and accountability operate in Canada. Most are in Toronto, where released sex offenders find it easier to blend into the landscape. Three currently operate out of St. John's church, where about 30 volunteers have received formal circle training.
The rest of the world is starting to pay attention. Eight countries have since picked up the idea.
"We so rarely toot our horns when we do the right thing,' notes Mr. Wilson. "I think it's worth saying that this idea was born of really rather humble beginnings in Canada, and it's now becoming something of an international cause celebre.
"We're seen as the leaders of this, the stewards of it. Yet I don't think many people in Canada know anything about it."
- - -
In 1994, a mentally disabled pedophile named Charlie Taylor was about to be released from prison. Because of changes in the law sparked by the community protection movement --which arose in the 1980s in response to public alarm over high-profile sex crimes -- he had been denied both parole and statutory release, and held in prison for his full sentence. Now he was about be dumped, unprepared and alone, into Hamilton, a community that wanted nothing to do with him.
One of Charlie Taylor's few friends was a Mennonite pastor named Harry Nigh. A prison psychologist asked if he could offer the beleaguered man any help.
Rev. Nigh was familiar with restorative justice, an alternative justice concept championed by the Mennonite Central Committee that often uses circle processes. It advocates healing the harm caused by crime, and focuses both on the needs of victims and the safe reintegration of criminals into the community.
Rev. Nigh rounded up some volunteers and the first circle of support and accountability was born. Six months later, Hugh Kirkegaard, a Correctional Services community chaplain in Toronto, created a second circle to deal with the situation of Wray Budreo, another pedophile with 36 convictions who was released to an equally hostile reception from the media and public.
Both circles still meet; neither Mr. Taylor nor Mr. Budreo has reoffended.
The success of these initial circles led Correctional Services and the Mennonite Central Committee to establish a pilot project in 1996 to refine the concept and implement it across Canada.
Today it operates on a shoestring budget of $300,000 a year, much of which goes to pay modest salaries to part-time circle co-ordinators. Everything else runs on a volunteer basis.
Given the demonstrated success of circles, this may be one of the best investments taxpayers have ever made. It certainly looks sensational when compared to the estimated $1.5 million -- for policing, courts, monitoring, rehabilitation and treatment -- that it costs to deal with a single sex offender.
Circles of support and accountability, says Mr. Wilson, "are costing pennies by comparison. It's much more profitable and much more cost effective than any sex offender registry will ever be."
- - -
Ms. Mallett is a parishioner at St. John's church and a deeply religious woman. A victim of childhood sexual abuse herself, she is an unlikely angel to a sex offender. But the choice wasn't entirely hers.
"There's this other part of me which is not of my own choosing or making, but from God," she says. "There's no other way of describing it. This is God saying, 'you have to do something about this.' "
(It should be noted that confidentiality is a central value of circles of support and accountability. During interviews for this story in April, Ms. Mallett and other volunteers were careful not to identify core members of their circles by name. Mr. Gallienne's identity only came to light as a result of this week's news reports.)
After inviting Mr. Gallienne and his wife to her house for dinner, Ms. Mallett spoke to the rector at St. John's about creating a "house church" -- effectively, an informal circle of support and accountability -- where Mr. Gallienne could worship and meet with other parishioners.
At first, she had little luck recruiting volunteers. "People kept saying, 'well, no, I don't think so.' " But she persisted and was eventually able to find 18 people who agreed to participate.
Because the process was so new, no one had any training in circle processes. But the group included a doctor, two priests, a pastoral counsellor and various other professionals.
Everyone, including Mr. Gallienne, was frightened at first, she says. "We didn't know what to expect. Was this person ever going to be employed by anybody for anything?
"I had this idea that somebody would find out and, I don't know, shoot us or something. I got a little bit paranoid."
At the first house church gathering, Mr. Gallienne sat quietly on a chesterfield in Ms. Mallett's living room while the assembled group took turns upbraiding him for his crimes. Then the healing began with a Eucharist.
"It was an incredibly powerful evening," Ms. Mallett recalls. "There was just a sense of all of us being surrounded by love. God was there with us."
Still, the first year was difficult. Ms. Mallett recalls phoning her husband, Garth, one day and saying, "This is hard work!"
Friends were aghast when she told them what she was doing. Think of his victims, they cried. Think of all the people he's hurt. How could you?
She tried to explain that she and her circle colleagues were only trying to keep the community safe. It was no use; her friends couldn't accept that she was helping a pedophile. "That really shocked and surprised me, because these are all educated women."
Fourteen members of that original circle still gather every couple of months. Most now consider Mr. Gallienne a personal friend. Ms. Mallett, for one, has total faith in the once-broken man who showed up a decade ago with little hope of ever again living a normal life.
"There is no possibility of reoffence," she says flatly. "I would lay down my life saying that. He would never do it for himself, but he would never do it for the rest of us as well."
- - -
Their closest call came when a pedophile with a long history of low-level sexual offences -- "a bum-toucher," says circle volunteer Michael Petrunik -- violated some of his release conditions. But even that episode attests to the power of the circle process.
After violating the conditions -- volunteers emphasize that he did not victimize anyone -- the man called one of his circle members, Eric Bays, a retired bishop, and reported the breaches. The man then called his parole officer and informed him as well.
As a result of the violations, the man was sent back to the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Detention Centre. A short time later, in May 2003, another inmate murdered him.
Despite the story's tragic ending, volunteers say the man's response demonstrates that the process was working.
"When he was committing his breaches, it seemed that he was on a downward spiral, possibly on his way to reoffending," says Susan Love, the local co-ordinator for circles of support and accountability.
"But he stopped himself. He stopped that pattern or spiral and called a circle member. If the circle hadn't been there, who knows what would have happened?"
Mr. Petrunik, who teaches criminology at the University of Ottawa, says occasional lapses by ex-offenders are to be expected, given their high risk to reoffend.
"That's what the circle is here for, so when something at risk happens, the individual can go to the circle. Or the circle might see something that is happening and recognize that something's wrong."
Mr. Petrunik, an avuncular man with a slight stutter, was drawn to circles of support and accountability out of professional interest.
"Here is something that looks at trying to deal with both community safety and the possibility that you could reintegrate these individuals," he says. "They had these two mottoes -- no more victims, and no one is disposable. How do you balance those two?"
Another volunteer, Pat Love, was a probation officer for a decade.
"One of the things I learned in being a probation officer is that these are real people with real problems, often with many horrible difficulties in their backgrounds.
"Without excusing that, one has to look at them as individuals and help them get beyond that."
Many volunteers see the circles as a tangible way of practising their Christian faith.
"It just seems to me to fit our Christian convictions," adds Mr. Bays, the retired bishop.
People often ask if circle volunteers aren't afraid of the sex offenders they walk with, says Susan Love. Her response is simple.
"I think it's scarier for them not to have support," she says.
"He has high needs, high risk and no support? That scares me."
Midwest Conservative Journal
Webster Groves, Missouri - Copyright by Christopher S. Johnson
[7/2/2004 - http://mcj.bloghorn.com/965]
The Christian denomination into which I was born hasn't humiliated me in, oh, a day or two but they just made up for it.
A while back, I reported here on the story of John Gallienne, a Canadian Anglican choir director and convicted pedophile who is currently employed by Ottawa's St. John the Evangelist church:
John Gallienne, the ensemble’s robed conductor, seemed comfortable, controlled and proudly in command again, 10 years after he was forbidden by senior Anglican leaders to ever again hold a leadership position, playing an instrument or leading a choir or music group in church. Gallienne, acclaimed as a brilliant musician, teacher and organist, was exposed in 1990 as a predatory pedophile who exploited his position of trust and authority as choirmaster and organist at St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Kingston for at least 15 years.
Even though the Dioceses of both Kingston and Ottawa officially forbade him from taking any leadership roles in the church at all:
Former Kingston bishop Rt. Rev. Peter Mason, the senior cleric who presided over the Anglican parishes of the Kingston region starting in the spring of 1992, the midpoint of the Gallienne affair, was shocked to learn that Gallienne is playing the organ, rehearsing and leading the St. John’s choir and working with other music groups at the Ottawa church.
“I am saddened and offended to hear that,” he said in an interview. “I believe that what Mr. Gallienne did was so destructive that he’d forfeited the privilege of leadership.” Mason personally visited Gallienne in prison shortly before he was released in 1994 and handed him a document that forbade him to be involved in a music program or holding a leadership position again in any Anglican Church in the Kingston region.
The rules were also adopted by the Ottawa diocese. Mason said that in 1994 he received a letter from then-Bishop John Baycroft approving the restrictions on Gallienne. “I consider that Mr. Gallienne has forfeited all privileges of leadership within the Church, particularly those relating to music and choirs,” states the document delivered to Gallienne.
Bishop Mason laid it on the line:
“Leadership is not a right, it’s a privilege,” he said. “John Gallienne can belong to a church. He can get up on a Sunday morning. He can go to church. He can pray to God. He can participate in the life of the church as a member. He can belong to a Bible study. “But as for leadership, particularly leadership where he can exercise leadership over people and potentially take advantage of them, that is not a right, that is a privilege and the two are completely different.”
St. John's rector Garth Bulmer, who has a serious claim on the title of Most Vile North American Anglican, thinks that what Gallienne has to put up with is just horrible:
Bulmer said he knows of the restrictions placed on Gallienne and called them “very sad things.” “Terrible infringement of human rights,” Bulmer said. When pressed about why Gallienne is allowed to be part of the music program at St. John’s, Bulmer said the bishop of the Ottawa diocese granted Gallienne permission. “Mr. Gallienne operates here with the full permission of the bishop of Ottawa … that’s not a secret to anybody and certainly not to the bishop,” he said.
An assertion which was disputed by Ottawa's current bishop, Peter Coffin:
The bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, Bishop Peter Coffin, has a different view of the situation. Coffin said he has never given permission to Bulmer or Gallienne to bend the rules that were outlined by Mason and adopted by the Ottawa diocese 10 years ago. Coffin said when he assumed the post of bishop, he checked the files to see what existed on Gallienne’s activities at the church. He said everything in his office and diocese is recorded.
Although Bishop Milquetoast Coffin admits that he probably didn't forbid Bulmer from employing Gallienne:
“I went through my files and I saw nothing, nothing from any bishop giving John Gallienne or the rector permission,” he said in an interview. “It wasn’t with my permission but I probably acquiesced. Whether I take a fall as being lenient, we’ll see.”
For his part, the repulsive Bulmer wishes people would stop being so mean to Gallienne:
The Whig asked Bulmer whether it was harmful to allow Gallienne to take on music leadership positions in his church. “Obviously, we’re concerned about your newspaper trying to continue to destroy their lives when they worked so hard to rebuild them,” he said.
“If you wanted to do an article on the ways in which we help people reintegrate into society, that might be of interest to me, but I’m not interested in talking to you about that situation because I’ve seen what you’ve done in articles in the past. It’s pretty awful."
What was Gallienne convicted of? This:
In that time he sexually abused more than a dozen young boys, some as young as eight. In the fall of 1990, he pleaded guilty to 20 sex crimes against 13 young boys. Two boys who committed suicide were allegedly molested by Gallienne. Their stories weren’t disclosed until after their deaths. Gallienne wasn’t charged with crimes related to them.
Two years later, Gallienne pleaded guilty to three more sex charges involving another young boy. He was sentenced to six years in prison after cutting a devastating physical and emotional swath through the St. George’s community and the city. In 1994, Gallienne was convicted of two counts of indecent assault – receiving one year on each count to run concurrent to the sentence being served – for assaulting a choirboy in Victoria 20 years earlier.
The article contains some details of Gallienne's molestations which I will not repeat here. But I will emphasize the blood that Gallienne has on his hands:
Joan and Henrik Helmers said their 14-year-old son, Henrik Helmers II, hanged himself with an electrical extension cord in 1977 after he was molested by Gallienne after a sailing outing and a trip to Dairy Queen during the summer of 1976. Ned and Daphne Franks also pointed the finger at Gallienne after their son, Timothy, a 25-year-old doctoral student at Harvard University, killed himself. Timothy Franks told his fiance that Gallienne had abused him in 1978 when he was 14 years old.
What the hey, said St. George's Cathedral Dean Grahame Clark, commenting on the suicides. Stuff happens:
In his first public statement after the Helmers and Franks revelations, Dean Grahame Baker offered reassurances. “These things happen and they’re very unfortunate, but we’ve got the work of the church. We must feed the poor, go on with our luncheon program, and we must serve the community and make our services and offer workshop,” he told the congregation.
St. John the Evangelist is a rather Spongian parish:
Bishop Coffin said St. John’s is a caring church and it strives to be inclusive, including welcoming gays, lesbians and transgendered people into the congregation. He praised the church as a wonderful place where everyone is welcome including people with criminal convictions, street people and those with HIV and AIDS. ”I’m very proud of that parish.” The church appears to be exceptionally liberal in its philosophies. Many newspaper stories have been written on Bulmer’s push for gays and lesbians to be accepted in the church and what he sees as their right to have their unions blessed by clergy in the church.
And you will be interested to know that the word of the Anglican Church of Canada is officially worthless [theinquiry.ca note: the link here to CBC is broken]:
Ottawa's Anglican bishop says a convicted sex offender may continue his choir conducting duties at St. John's Anglican Church.
After reflection, Bishop Peter Coffin now says Gallienne can continue with his choir duties, but under certain conditions: Gallienne is never to be involved with children or youth, and he can't work in any other church but St. John's.
St. John's is the only church in Ottawa to offer a program for sex offenders. Called Circles of Support, it helps ex-inmates get back on their feet.
"We're very pleased that the situation at St. John's has been clarified," said Pat Love, an advisor with the support program.
"It's just been so very public that it's been a very painful thing for everybody."
Seems to me that if the homosexuals who are so accepted at SJTE don't want people to associate them with child molesters, then this is a very bad PR move:
Love says many parishioners have rallied around Gallienne and his wife in past weeks to let them know that, in spite of what happened years ago, they're still welcome in the church.
Yeah, I know. The guy's done his time and the Bible teaches that no one's irredeemable. As Peter Mason indicated, that's begging the question. No one wishes to deny Gallienne a chance to pray, study the Bible and worship God in fellowship with other Christians. But if destroying countless lives and causing two suicides doesn't get someone permanently barred from a leadership position, what will?
Another thing. The eagerness of this "church" to employ Gallienne, the attempt by its disgusting rector to paint him as a victim and the fact that many parishioners "rallied around" this child molester "in spite of what happened years ago" makes one wonder. Do they know what the word "repentance" means at St. John the Evangelist, Ottawa?
One fact is abundantly clear. Garth Bulmer flaunted Anglican Church of Canada directives and got away with it. He got an organist and some undoubtedly beautiful music for his parish and it probably only cost the Christian faith of many young men and members of their families. So Bulmer, his congregation and his bishop desperately need to organize a intensive Bible study at SJTE around the following verse:
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Matthew 18:6).
Posted on 7/2/2004 12:55:46 AM , 36 comments
[Click the following link to read the blog online and the comments pro and con posted in response http://mcj.bloghorn.com/965]
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