Strange. It doesn’t matter how often you hear the story, or from whom or about whom, the horrific, long-term and virtually stereotypical impact of man/boy sexual just doesn’t change. As different as every “story” is every story is the same.
Yesterday, (Tuesday 10 October 2006) Denise Deslaurier, former wife of Benoit Brisson took the stand.
Benoit was sexually abused by Father Gilles Delsaurier (no relation to Denise).
Mrs. Deslaurier was an articulate witness who without doubt was viewed by “the diocese” as a formidable and fearless foe back in 1986 after she first learned that Benoit had been sexually molested by Deslaurier.
For simplicity’s sake I will refer to her as Denise.
I won’t detail Denise’s testimony. It will undoubtedly be well covered today and I will post the articles for your perusal. I will however make several observations and/or comments regarding some aspects of her testimony and raise the odd question and will follow that with a series of bullets relating items of testimony which I believe are worthy of note.
(1) Here it is again. Time and time again as Justice Glaude ‘framed’ his inquiry with “expert witnesses we heard that once upon a time no one really understood the impact of man/boy sexual abuse, and that the policies, practices and procedures of this institution, that institution and the other one have been evolving as understanding grows.
Yesterday yet another witness took the stand who knew inherently that it was wrong for a priest to sexually abuse a boy, and that there was a need to take that priest out of circulation to protect children, and that that priest should not be allowed to function as a priest in any diocese. She recognised that non action created an “ever present danger” (translation)
Question: How did a young 24-year-old mother without benefit of a training seminar or a manual of policies, practices and procedures inherently know what needed to be and must be done with the allegations against Father Gilles Deslaurier?
(2) When it comes to clerical sexual abusers there is nothing new under the sun. Twenty years ago when Denise and the Brisson family felt that action was not being taken by the diocese to deal appropriately with Gilles Deslaurier they decided it was necessary to go public to alert the public.
Nothing has changed. Unfortunately it takes the pressure and scandal of publicity for dioceses to put the protection and well-being of children under its spiritual care ahead of the feelings and ‘well-being’ of the abusive clergy under its employ.
Question: When will Church officials get back to making the salvation of souls a higher priority than the protection of clerical sexual predators?
(3) There is a vast ripple effect to the deleterious effects and long-term impact of man/boy sexual abuse. The boy is, of course, the primary victim. However, as Denise’s testimony illustrated so well, the ripples extended to her, and to her parents, and to Benoit’s family and to the Brisson children. Twenty years later the ripples keep flowing. It’s not over.
Denise testified that the repercussions are on-going and will continue. The how is unknown, but she now knows they will continue. She gave as examples which quickly came to mind the fact that (i) she is living her life differently now than she had thought she would when she and Benoit were married, (ii) when a news story was about to break some years ago the necessity of explaining to their little girls, then around five- and eight-years old, what had happened to their daddy when he was boy, (iii) involvement with the inquiry, and (iv) Benoit’s name in the papers again.
(4) It’s a strange and disgraceful phenomenon, one which I have personally witnessed – clerical victims of sexual abuse and their families are often shunned and ridiculed by their fellow Catholics.
Denise testified that after they went public they were isolated. People avoided them, and avoided contact with them.
She and Benoit had gotten back together for a time and were parishioners at St. Croix. An appeal went out for parishioners to join the choir. Benoit signed up. He was never contacted.
Question: Why do the bishops and clergy not encourage Roman Catholics to treat victims of clerical sexual abuse with at least the same respect and dignity that they claim is demanded for homosexuals, paedophiles, the earth and feminists.
(5) We have been told repeatedly that this inquiry has nothing whatever to do with Project Truth. And we know by the mandate and Justice Glaude’s statements that it has nothing to do with allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up.
However, the last two questions posed to Denise in her examination in chief were
(i) Have you ever had any contact with Perry Dunlop? and
(ii) Have you had any contact with Ontario Provincial Police officers who were part of Project Truth?
And the first questions posed by Jacques Leduc’s lawyer in cross examination were:
(i) Have you had any contact with Perry Dunlop?
(ii) have you had any contact with Perry’s wife Helen?
(iii) have you had any contact with Carson Chisholm (Helen’s brother)?
(iv) have you had any contact with Ron Leroux (formerly involved with the paedophile “clan” who blew the whistle on clan members and activities)? and
(v) have you ever had contact with Charles Bourgeois (sp? – former lawyer for the Dunlops)?
(i) If this inquiry has nothing to do with Project Truth, a paedophile ring or a cover-up why this line of questioning?
(ii) Will Father Gilles Deslaurier be put on the stand and asked what contact he had with Bishop Adolphe Proulx?
(iii) Will Jacques Leduc, Claude Shaver, Bishop Larocque be pt on the stand and asked what contact they had with each other? and Ken Seguin? And so on.
(iv) Will Justice Colin McKinnon be put on the stand and asked what contact he had with Claude Shaver? And so on.
(v) Will Jacques Leduc be put on the stand to testify regarding whatever role he might have played as a lawyer and canon lawyer for the diocese in dealing with the sex abuse allegations against Father Gilles Deslaurier?
(vi) Are we just now discovering that this inquiry is in realty the Perry Dunlop inquiry?
(1) When Denise visited Father Gilles Deslarier to talk to him face to face Deslaurier made some “vague” reference to homosexuality.
(2) Denise testified that she empathised with Father Denis Vaillincourt because he like Deslaurier had been involved in the R3 youth movement and he ‘felt bad’ for the Brisson family.
(3) Denise visited Bishop Eugene Larocque to tell him what Father Gilles Deslaurier had done to her husband Benoit when Benoit was a 16-year-old boy 18-year-old boy According to Denise Larocque (i) implicated Benoit because he was a musician, (ii) doubted Benoit’s age at the time of the abuse, (iii) asked her if she thought the sexual abuse was consensual, and (iv) asked her if she believed Deslaurier’s premise that what he did to Benoit was some form of therapy.
(4) When Benoit’s father died Bishop Larocque decided he wanted to attend the funeral. This understandably disturbed Benoit deeply. Denise and the family apparently felt that the only reason Larocque wanted to attend was for public show. (I got the impression that Laorcque did indeed attend.)
(5) Denise testified that she was disappointed to learn that it was a Father Claude Thibault whom Bishop Larocque mandated to allegedly contact Benoit and tell him that the diocese would help him out.
Finally, on a different but now all too familiar note. Another mini ruckus over confidentiality and who gets to see what. Seems there was top secret information which was supposed to be for lawyers eyes only which was shown on screen at the lawyers’ tables. Apparently at least one non-lawyer client was sitting at the table and saw what no one is supposed to see. Justice Glaude said that he assumed all those sitting with lawyers at the tables were lawyers :).
So, another glitch which requires a little more work on policies, practices and procedures – after the fact.
Please not hearings resume at 9.30 am this morning. Benoit Brisson will be testifying.
Enough for now,