Okay, here we go on testimony from the Father Denis Vaillancourt sex assault trial. Closing arguments for the trial, which was scheduled to run 13-15 June 2017, are scheduled to be heard at 2pm, 13 July 2017.
First, technical issues – again 🙁
Something happened after the last WordPress update which prevents me downloading pdf files. It was routine before, but I tried downloading a file yesterday, without success, and have spent some at it this morning trying to download several other files, again, without success. I will have to contact my web host to see if he can sort things out. There are files which I want to reference which I really would like to have posted. For now, I will have to proceed without them.
Now, back to the trial. But, in that vein, first a little information which was not mentioned at trial but which I believe is rather important.
Father Vaillancourt, ordained in 1974, studied canon law with layman lawyer Jacques Leduc at Ottawa’s Saint Paul U. Leduc and Vallancourt also attended Cornwall Classical College together. Under oath at the Cornwall Public Inquiry Father Vaillancourt acknowledged his friendship with Jacques Leduc.
Both Leduc and Father Vaillancourt have had their finger in the pie of the sex abuse scandals which plagued the Diocese of Alexandria-Corwnall Diocese, from the cover-up and trial of Father Gilles Deslaurier to the point at which Leduc himself was charged. Their involvement in the cases of Fathers Gilles Deslaurier and Charles MacDonald is well recorded.
Father Vaillancourt was Chancellor for the diocese from 1985 until around 2011 or 2012. That’s a loooong time. He also spent some time as Judicial Vicar. He was listed as such in 2015. The text of the guidelines can be found by clicking here – my comments interspersed.
And, it was Father Vaillancourt who, in the early 90s, headed the committee to come up with the sex abuse guidelines for the the diocese. The guidelines were released in 1995.
What involvement, if any, he has had in the sex abuse lawsuits filed against the diocese is unknown, but, I am hard pressed to believe he, as a canon layer and Chancellor and later as Vicar General, didn’t cast an eye over one or two of the related documents in each suit.
In short, witness his background, Father Denis Vaillancourt knows – or certainly should know! – a fair bit about sex abuse allegations against clergy.
Of further interest is Then there is this exchange which was documented in a blog 16 July 2008 (the exchange transpired 14 July 2008) :
It seems that back in 1986 Leduc and Father Denis Vaillancourt had some intriguing notion that if a victim was “predisposed” to homosexuality that predisposition could have a bearing on the victim’s “consent” to the abuse. The following exchange starts with commission counsel Karen Jones referring to Vaillncourt’s conclusion that one of the four Deslaurier victims he met had such “predisposition.” As you will see, in short order Glaude had had enough of this line of Q&As :
MS. JONES: And Father Vaillancourt’s answer, of the four that he met, one would have that predisposition and I believe he’s referring to victims of Father Deslauriers?
MR. LEDUC: I think that’s a fair assessment, yes.
MS. JONES: Okay. But that’s the context —
MR. LEDUC: Yes.
MS. JONES: — rather than reading the whole interview?
MR. LEDUC: Yes.
MS. JONES: Okay. So he’s saying then of the four victims that he was aware of, one of them seemed to be predisposed to homosexuality.
Now, my question to you is what would be the relevance — because you’re the one who posed the question, what would be the relevance of anyone having a predisposition to homosexuality with regards to making a complaint of historical sexual abuse?
MR. LEDUC: It would go, in my mind then, as to a matter of consent.
MS. JONES: So if someone was homosexual, there would be a greater chance of consent by the victim or a lesser?
MR. LEDUC: No, it was a matter —
MS. JONES: What do you mean then?
MR. LEDUC: No, it’s a matter of what are the facts.
MS. JONES: I don’t understand your response, sir.
MR. LEDUC: The question put was to establish whether or not these — this conduct could in any way be explained as a matter of consent.
MS. JONES: What conduct?
MR. LEDUC: The sexual misconduct of Deslauriers.
MS. JONES: So what —
MR. LEDUC: And whether or not the individuals who were victims could be challenged and said that you actually consented to this.
MS. JONES: That’s what I’m trying to get at.
MR. LEDUC: Yeah.
MS. JONES: The sexual misconduct by Father Deslauriers is one aspect. What relevance would it be if a victim was or was not homosexual? What relevance does that have to the sexual misconduct of Father Deslauriers?
MR. LEDUC: Today I would agree with you that it has no relevance whatsoever.
MS. JONES: So what was the relevance to you in 1986?
MR. LEDUC: In 1986, the relevance for me was whether or not there was an issue of consent.
MS. JONES: So, again, if someone then was homosexual, was it your opinion then that that would mean that victim would have consented to sexual misconduct by Father Deslauriers?
MR. LEDUC: No, I believe it was an issue to be canvassed. That was not my opinion. It was an issue to be canvassed and that’s why I asked the question.
MS. JONES: I guess I’m going to just try one more time here. Clearly, because you bring it up a few times in the interview —
MR. LEDUC: Yes.
MS. JONES: This is just the first time that I’m highlighting it.
MR. LEDUC: Yes.
MS. JONES: I just want to know what your opinion was with regards to a victim’s homosexuality or not and what that had to do with the — if I could finish my question, please — and what that would have to do with any sexual misconduct by Father Deslauriers? That’s my question.
MR. SKURKA: In my respectful submission,Mr. Commissioner, Mr. Leduc has answered the question. It may not be satisfactory to my friend, but he’s answered it.
THE COMMISSIONER: One last try.
MS. JONES: Are you able to enunciate that,sir? In 1986, what did you think was the relationship?
MR. LEDUC: In 1986, I thought it was an issue. The homosexuality of the victim could have been an issue in a matter of determining whether or not there had been consent.
MS. JONES: Okay. What would have been that issue? This is what I’m trying to get at. You’ve highlighted that this could be an issue. In what regard?
MR. LEDUC: Whether or not the activities had been consensual or not depending on all kinds of circumstances which are — which are viewed today completely differently.
THE COMMISSIONER: Mrs. Jones, I’m sorry; I’m going to have to take a short break.
Finally, for now, I also want to draw this undated statement to your attention. This was written by Father Denis Vaillancourt.
Father Vaillancourt was presumably designated to be the note taker for the 09 February 1993 meeting with David Silmser . When chaos eventually erupted he alleges his report had disappeared from his computer. These notes were therefore written from memory at a later date: who knows when?
Anyway, as you see, Dave Silmser met with Jacques Leduc, Father Denis Vaillancourt and Father McDougald. At that time all Dave was seeking was a letter of apology written by Father MacDonald to Mrs. Silmser, Dave’s mother. Dave wanted his mother to know that he had been sexually abused by Father Charles MacDonald; he wanted her to understand what happened and why her son had changed so drastically when he was a young boy.
And, as you see, the trio interviewing Dave suggested he meet with Father MacDonald. And, as you see,according to Father Vaillancourt, the trio presumably shared what they thought of Dave’s statement, including that perhaps “many things had been dreamed up,” and “Father Charles would never walk around in a group only dressed in his underwear.”
I’ll leave it at that. Next I’ll get back to testimony from the trial, but I did think it important to give a little more background.
Enough for now,