A quick note…
My husband and I made the run to Kingston, Ontario yesterday to take in day one the Father Robin Gwyn sex abuse trial. Please note: the trial is scheduled for four days. All being well I will head down today to catch at least half a day. It’s a long drive (five hour return) so not sure if I can get there every day or not. I would like to. We shall see…
First, please keep the complainant in your prayers. He truly was doing very well testifying – until the afternoon . Shortly before 3 pm.
When the examination in chief turned to the specifics of his sex abuse allegations against Gwynn, there were periods of silence .
A tough time.
When “Danny” told the court about the time Gwyn ejaculated in his mouth, the distraught witness almost stumbled from the witness stand: “I need a break.”
The word is that Danny left the building completely, but eventually returned. The Crown, defence and judge agreed that it would be best for all to adjourn for the day and pick up early in the morning: 09:30 am.
How I wish our bishops and clergy – and lay Catholics for that matter – could sit in the coatroom to listen and observe what I and a mere handful of others heard and saw in that Kingston courtroom yesterday. Heartbreaking is putting it mildly.
The boy, I’ve called him “Danny,” unfortunately came from a seriously dysfunctional family. Father died in a car accident – drinking and driving – when Danny was a little lad, around seven-years-of age. There was alcohol and drugs in the home. Dad was abusive. The child was allowed to drink, smoke and use drugs when he was just a little tyke.
After his Dad died, the family moved. Mom, already on drugs, began to inject. She became even more abusive than her husband had been. Danny went to school with a ‘cover-story’ to explain the marks on his body. There was no food in the house. His sister sometimes went to the food bank. Hygiene was non-existent. He smelled. He was taunted and made fun of at school. His days were consumed trying to avoid the other kids. There were learning disabilities.
And foster homes. He was taken from his home a number of times. In and out of foster homes. He described himself as a difficult placement: he ran away a lot. There was nowhere to go. Usually he’d run with another of the children from the home. They’d run the streets.
At some point he began to rob banks. He was never armed. He didn’t want to hurt anyone. There was trouble with the law. And in and out of jail.
There was one man whom he greatly admired and respected. A man to whom he turned frequently over the years. He stayed with this man and his wife several times. Several years ago he told this man that he, Danny, had been sexually abused by a priest. He didn’t identify Father Gwyn by name.
Two years ago he tried to commit suicide. He spent about two months in ICU, and then several months seeing a psychiatrist.
Truly truly heart-breaking.
There are still timelines to get sorted out in court, and I’m not 100% sure when Danny first Father Gwyn. Danny has testified that he played basketball while in elementary school, and that Father Gwyn used to be there during practises. He doesn’t know why Gwyn was there, but, for whatever reason, he was there.
Danny talked about being a ‘kid’ who was starved for attention guidance and direction.: “I was lost.”
We heard that Gwyn used to take Danny skating, and to movies. We heard about the priest’s silver truck with the pistachio shells in the ashtray. And we heard of his wonder at the pile of Loonies in the bowl in Father Gwyn’s bedroom. (Loonies had just been minted. Danny thought there was a lot of money there. He realizes now that it probably wasn’t that much, but at the time, well, he thought it was a lot. ) We heard about Father’s liquor cabinet with “higher end” liquor, and the wine cellar in the basement.
We heard that Danny stayed at the rectory several times. And, we heard that Father Gwyn frequently talked to the boy about sex and masturbation. Danny recalls being told about impure thoughts, and had to ask what “impure” meant. He recalled that he asked Father Gwyn if they would go to Hell for what they were doing, and the priest assured Danny that as along as Danny was doing things with Father Gwyn it was okay.
Father Robyn Gwyn, who pleaed ‘not guilty’ to all charges, was in court with his brother Hugh. The pair left the parking lot in a small red Honda with Quebec license plates.
Danny will continue his testimony today. Please pray for him.
A final note: The courtroom was virtually empty.
And, a final final note. There was a slight delay yesterday morning. The diocese was supposed to disclose a series of documents to the Crown, however, when the Crown received the documents a number which he had anticipated seeing were absent. The documents were turned over to the Crown about 10 minutes before court started. The judge allowed both the Crown and defence 30 minutes to read over the documents.
A reminder. The trial continues this morning:
03 August 2016: 09:30 am, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, 5 Court Street, Kingston
Enough for now.