Bennett: Father Kevin Bennett

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Father Kevin Bennett

Priest Diocese St. George’s Newfoundland (now the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador).  Ordained 1961. 1990 GUILTY plea – sentenced to four years.  1991 – found guilty on additional charge – two months added to sentence. (offences transpired between 1964 and 1981 in various Newfoundland parishes)  2005: $10.5M settlement with 39 former altar boys

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Bishops of the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrdaor (formerly St. George’s, Newfoundland) from time of Father Kevin Bennett’s ordination:  Michael O’Reilly  (05 July 1941 – 22 December 1969) ;  Richard Thomas McGrath  01 June -1970 – 17 Jun2 1985 ) ; Raymond John Lahey (05 July 1986 — 5 Apr 2003 Appointed, Bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia) ; David Douglas Crosby, O.M.I. (06 August 2003 – 24 September 2010 Appointed, Bishop of Hamilton, Ontario) ;  Peter Joseph Hundt (1 Mar 2011 – – )

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25 March 2004:  John Doe v. Bennett (Supreme Court of Canada)

28 May 1990:    R. v. Bennett Between Her Majesty the Queen, and Kevin Joseph Bennett (sentencing)

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24 November 1999: Priest’s personnel file gives few clues to his sex crimes

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The following dates and information are drawn from available Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD), legal documents (LD), Winter Commission Report (WCR)  and personal (P)

2012:  living in Stephenville, Newfoundland.  Attends Mass daily. (P)

2011, 2010:  not listed in CCCD – unconfirmed reports that he has been laicized

2002:  Date of ordination and Diocese of incardination listed in CCCD – no address (CCCD)

1994, 1996, 1999, 2000:  Canadian Catholic Church Directory lists Bennett as “Retired” (CCCD)

29 February 1992: Bishop Raymond Lahey sent letter to New Brunswick prison asking that Bennett be granted early parole. In the letter Lahey assured that Bennett would receive therapy upon release and have ““the security and guidance to once again lead a normal life within society.” (M)

1991:  Sentenced to four years in jail. (M)

1990:  GUILTY plea to 36 charges of gross indecency and attempted gross indecency.  (M)

March 1990: Penney testified at the Winter Commission that he had no recollection of a meeting with X.   The Archbishop later confirmed that his appointment book contained an entry for a meeting with the medical attendant who accompanied X.  (WCR)

1989: journalist contacted the Archdiocese re allegations of victim X.  Archbishop Penney relayed word that he had no recollection of meeting the victim  (WCR)

spent 9 days at Southdown (Aurora, Ontario) (LD)

1985-1986:  Pastor, Our Lady of Grace Church, Bird Cove, Newfoundland (CCCD)

approx 1979-1982 ?:  part-time at St. Edward’s in Kelligrews (P)

29 September 1979:  victim X met with Archbishop Penney.  X was accompanied by a medical attendant.  The medical attendant did not stay while X met with the Archbishop.  Penney asked the victim why he should be believed because he, the victim, was receiving psychiatric care at the local hospital at the time.  Penney referred X to Bennett’s bishop,  Richard Thomas McGrath.  McGrath told X that “he had heard one or two similar reports concerning Kevin Bennett, but, none as definite as mine.” (WCR)

September 1979:  21-year-old (“X”) disclosed sex abuse by Father Kevin Bennett to Archbishop Penny.  The abuse transpired at a rural parish in the Diocese of St. George’s, Newfoundland (WCR)

1971-1972, 1973-1974:  Pastor, St. Bernard’s Church, Fortune Bay, Newfoundland (Missions in Baie L’Argent, English Harbour East, Recontre East Terrenceville, St. Jacques) (CCCD)

1971-72:  Administrator of the diocesan Liturgical Commission with

Fathers John Collins, John W. Peddle, Bernard Buckle, Edwin J. Gale and Monsignor William J. Boone   (Charges against Father Boone were stayed indefinitely because his accuser failed to show due to health issues.  Father Buckle was charged in the summer of 2014)

1967, 1968-1969:  Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth Church,  Port au Port East (Pastor: Monsignor Raymond March – Vicar General of the Diocese)  (CCCD)

1965: St. Bernard’s (M)  (according to media  Bennett ‘s transfer to St. Bernard’s was prompted by reports  that he had been sexually abusing young boys at his previous parish)

1961:  Ordained

1954-1961: St. Augustine’s Seminary, Toronto, Ontario (LD)

1952-53:  attended St. Bon’s in St. John’s (LD)

1950:  Completed Grade 11 at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s school St. George’s Newfoundland (LD)

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THE SHAME OF KEVIN BENNETT

Polemic Paradox ( http://www.polemicandparadox.com/2008/04/shame-of-kevin-bennett.html)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I awoke this morning to some familiar voices from my youth. They were the voices of men who were abused at the hands of Father Kevin Bennett in St. Bernard’s. CBC was running a story about three of the men (names were withheld) who have been fighting with the St. George’s Diocese to honor a legal settlement with over 30 victims of sexual abuse. The men are still waiting for about 40% of the amounts agreed to.
In 2005, the Diocese of St. George’s almost sold off all of its property after agreeing to pay $13 million to 40 victims of Reverend Kevin Bennett, who was convicted in 1990 of hundreds of sexual assaults dating back to 1961.

One of the men said it was not about the money. He had given his first installment to the Salvation Army. Others said they have long run out of patience and want to close this painful chapter of their lives.

I grew up in St. Bernard’s. I slept at Father Bennett’s house and I accompanied him and others on trips. I can remember the smell of his pipe that filled the living room, the piles of western comic books and the ugly green carpet. My mom and Edith would count the collection on Sunday after mass. For some reason I got into a habit of staying there sometimes on Saturday night. Reading the comics and the National Geographics was my main interest. The Rawhide kid was my favorite!

I was never an altar boy. For some reason I never made the cut. There was a waiting list and I never moved ahead. That said, I often got to tag along on altar boy excursions to the swimming pool in Marystown, to a movie in St. John’s or a boat ride across the bay to Roncontre East (Round Conner)

Father Bennett offered much in terms of recreation. There were a couple of big snow machines, water sking in the summer, trips to the pool in the winter. On the surface, the life of an altar boy was full of adventure and opportunity.

I search my mind for memories, bad memories and I cannot find one. I can only think of one clue that something was up, something I did not understand at the time that has much more consequence today. One night on a trip to the pool in his crew cab truck a bunch of us were sitting in the pan. We were being treated to a feed of chicken and taters at Reddi Chief. There was a bit of a commotion about who would sit up front with Father Bennett. The boys decided that one of the guys who had gone into the take-out would do it because he “would scratch Father Bennett’s bag”. I thought this was a crude way of saying he was the teacher’s pet. It would turn out that this guy and two of his brothers were victims of abuse. I spend most of my young adolescent life with these guys, watched TV, hung out, listened to the Bay City Rollers and never had a clue.

I can smell the priest’s house, find my way around it in my mind, feel the warmth of the sun through the many windows, I can see his chair in living room and inhale the sweet and stale smell of the pipe. Than I remember that that there were complaints in 1969 about Bennett when he was the priest in Stephenville and he was moved out to St. Bernard’s. The Roman Catholic Church and its bishops knew then what Bennett was like and he was allowed to prey on my friends and family for 13 years.

As I look at my boys, I thank god that I was one of the lucky ones that escaped his treachery and manipulation.

Posted by Peter L. Whittle
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Church out of cash to pay abuse victims: lawyer

More properties need to be sold to make next payment, diocese says

Last Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2008 | 7:24 AM NT

CBC News

More than three dozen Newfoundland and Labrador men who had been sexually abused by a priest will likely not be fully compensated, their lawyer says.

'They were finally putting behind them this torturous past, embarrassing past,' lawyer Greg Stack says of the victims who await compensation.

They were finally putting behind them this torturous past, embarrassing past,’ lawyer Greg Stack says of the victims who await compensation.
(CBC)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of St. George’s had sold off many of its properties, including churches that were bought back by congregation members, to help settle a $14 million settlement over abuse committed by priest Kevin Bennett.

But Greg Stack, the St. John’s lawyer representing most of the 40 claimants, said the diocese says it cannot pay any more, with only half of the settlement payments complete.

“They’re acting very worldly for a spiritual organization,” Stack told CBC News.

“They’ve transferred the title out to new corporations with the money they’ve raised. So instead of raising money to give to victims, they raised money to protect their own property.”

Bennett was convicted in Newfoundland Supreme Court in 1990 and served four years in prison.

The compensation package took years to negotiate, and last year the diocese filed an appeal of the package.

Father Kevin Bennett was convicted in 1990 of sexually abusing boys in southern Newfoundland parishes.

Father Kevin Bennett was convicted in 1990 of sexually abusing boys in southern Newfoundland parishes.
(CBC)

Stack said that an instalment in the compensation package that was due last summer has not yet been received, despite assurances.

“There is no firm indication that they’ll ever be paid. It’s looking more and more dubious as time goes on,” he said.

Stack said if any compensation is ever paid again, he believes it will be small.

Stack said the men involved in the settlement, most of whom were abused by Bennett while he was posted to churches in southern Newfoundland, are disappointed by the latest turn of events.

“They had plans made,” he said.

“They were finally putting behind them this torturous past, embarrassing past.”

But Father Jim Robertson, who helped co-ordinate the settlement agreement, acknowledges that while there is currently no money to make payments, the church will do its best to pay out the rest of the compensation by the end of 2008.

“We’re always optimistic that we’ll be able to complete that and we work towards that. That’s our whole reason for being, is to honour our agreements as best we can,” Robertson told CBC News.

Robertson said several more church properties are expected to be sold soon, which could result in another $750,000 payment being made to victims by March.

Stack said he is not holding his breath over that payment being received by then.

The compensation agreement requires the diocese to make good on its commitments by Dec. 31.

Bennett was one of a series of Roman Catholic priests — and then lay Christian Brothers at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s — who were convicted in the 1980s and 1990s of sexual assaults.

The charges and trials — as well as a church-led inquiry and a royal commission into an aborted 1970s Mount Cashel police investigation — rocked the Roman Catholic church as well as the criminal justice and social services systems.

J.J. Byrne, who advocated for Mount Cashel survivors and is aware of the struggles to obtain compensation, said parishioners who have helped buy back properties should demand more from church leaders.

“I think it is incumbent on the parishioners to absolutely demand the diocese fulfil its obligation and pay the victims,” Byrne said.

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Nobodys child

The Aurora (Labrador City)

Published on July 16th, 2007

Michelle Stewart Michelle Stewart

Michelle Stewart photo/Randy Johnston has few happy memories to reflect on as he considers his life in St. Bernards and the years of sexual abuse inflicted by the pedophile priest, Kevin Bennett.

A gripping account of abandonment, abuse and survival

Back in the 60s no one in St. Bernards could ever have imagined the veiled evil that stagnated and slowly poisoned the spirit of the small fishing village.

Nestled in the hills of Fortune Bay, the small community was dominated by two forces: the fishing industry and the Roman Catholic Church. Families lived for the fishery and were stringently guided by the strong authority of their religious figureheads.

Back in the 60s no one in St. Bernards could ever have imagined the veiled evil that stagnated and slowly poisoned the spirit of the small fishing village.

Nestled in the hills of Fortune Bay, the small community was dominated by two forces: the fishing industry and the Roman Catholic Church. Families lived for the fishery and were stringently guided by the strong authority of their religious figureheads.

Father Kevin Bennett was a welcomed presence when he arrived in St. Bernards in 1965 to take on the role of parish priest. The veneration of a priest was automaticit came with the territory in all dominantly RC communities. But not only was Bennett renowned because of his sacred title, he had a personality that made him immediately liked in the community. No one could have known, or even suspected, the priest was sent to this parish from the St. Georges diocese (on the west coast of the province) because reports of his sexually abusing young boys prompted his transfer.

Rough Start

Randy Johnston was just a little boy of nine years in 1965 and already his life was far from typical in the close-knit community. His mother had abandoned the family before Randy was even old enough to draw a memory of her. His father, a schooner fisherman, was gone most months of the year leaving his nine-month-old son to be reared grudgingly by the grandparents.

With an early childhood void of a mother, whom he was not permitted to even inquire about, Randys grandparents were rigid and indifferentthe boy was very much alone in his home and his heart.

My grandparents were the merchants in St. Bernards, Randy explained. They had a herring store, the post office and grocery store and they sold beer. They were very strict and they were very religious. I worked for them. To tell you the truth, I dont remember any happy minutes let alone any happy days in my life then. Whenever I asked about my mother, I was told she was a tramp and I never got to know anything else about her.

Back then beer merchants homes were like taverns filled with beer-drinking men. Randy knew his home was different, he knew he was different from the rest of the kids in St. Bernards. His mother had abandoned him, he knew his grandparents were raising him, not by choice but, because of the circumstances. He wished his father had worked in St. Bernards rather than away for the best part of each year.

I felt like nobodys child, Randy summed up his early life. I didnt feel loved. I always felt alone.

Prime target

Randy admired Fr. Bennett when he came to St. Bernards; he was a hero-type to the young boy.

I remember that someone said they heard he was a boxer, he recalled his first knowledge of the priest. He had a Jeep, a motorcycle and he had his own boat. That was impressive back then. And before long, he asked me, if I would like to be one of his altar boys.

Randy was delighted the priest actually chose him, someone for once in his very young life seemed to have a genuine interest in him.

His grandparents, devout Catholics, were pleased when the boy alerted them he was invited to be an altar boy. Another first for Randy who never seemed to be able to do anything to please his grandparents.

He enjoyed being around the amiable priest who asked him to help with different projects along with altar duties and he was also delighted that he was invited to play the drums in the school band.

The first sleepover

It seemed like another kind gesture on Bennetts part when he invited Randy and a few more boys to the parish house for a Saturday night sleepover and to watch a hockey game on TV.

We were all delighted because not everyone had a TVwe had one but we couldnt get that channel for hockey, Randy recalled the Saturday night when he was just 11. He [Bennett] had drinks [pop] and chips and stuff for us.

When it was time to go to bed, Randy didnt make much out of the priest asking a boy to sleep with him. A short time later the boy left Bennetts bed and Randy was invited.

I didnt make anything of it, said Randy. I didnt know very much about sex or anything back then, I was only 11 years old.

His young and elusive mind didnt understand when the priest reached for him and satisfied his sick sexual cravings, this was indeed his first sexual encounter.

Randys innocent ignorance didnt allow him to understand the depth of what he had just endured and definitely not the repercussions that would follow him forever.

It was the beginning of countless illicit attacks from a relentless predator who sodomized and preyed on him for more than three years.

Randy masked the abuse and kept silent. He realized, during the time, he wasnt the only victim of Bennett; but other boys as well who Bennett found ways to keep in his company.

He took the boys from St. Bernards with him when he travelled to other Catholic communities (Rencontre East, English Harbour East and Terrenceville). Most times the trips required the boys to stay overnight in the communities, each one taking a place in the priests bed.

Trapped and controlled

It didnt take long before Randy realized that the acts the priest was performing were shamefully wrong, but at the same time, he felt trapped and completely under his control.

I knew better than to tell my grandparents what he was doing to me, Randy said firmly. I would have gotten a smack in the mouth, just like anyone else who would dare to say something negative about a priest in those days. My grandparents thought he was God.

Bennett, therefore, got his waycamping out with boys and salmon fishing, boat trips to Rencontre East, plying the boys with booze and giftseach and every opportunity that came his way, the pedophile satisfied his hideous desires.

Escape

Randy was 14 the last time Bennett invited him, with his grandparents familiar consent, for a sleepover at the parish house. That night, though, things changed for the teenager; he had all he could take and he wanted it to end.

He had me in his bed and I just jumped up and said, leave me alone you f**kin fruit, and I just ran out of there, he recalled his last sexual attack. It was 3 a.m. and I ran out of his house. I was afraid to be out in the dark and I was afraid to go back home that hour with no explanation.

Randy knew his grandparents would be upset to think their grandson fell out of favour with the priest, so he began punching himself in the nose on the trek home until he gave himself a nosebleedan acceptable explanation (for leaving Bennetts clutches) to offer his grandmother.

The next day the annoyed priest informed Randy he would no longer be serving on the altar and he was kicked off the school band.

He once again was alone, not fitting in anywhere; his life to that date was just a collage of misery coming to a breaking point.

Escaping Bennett physically would soon prove to be much easier than ridding the serial abuser from his mind.

On the run

Randy left St. Bernards at age 16 and went to work in Alberta with Canadian Pacific Railway.

Looking back over those years and the many years that followed, he lived his life on the edge, not caring, not trustinghe drifted though life detached and haunted, not ever finding a place to call home.

It was hard, you had to get half drunk in order to get enough guts to date a girl, he explained. I felt dirty and didnt think I was good enough.

He was rough and hard in public and broken and helpless whenever he was alone with the past that chased him.

Bennett convicted

Randys grandparents and father died never knowing of the horrific abuse Randy suffered at the hands of a man they held in such high esteem.

In 1989 Bennett was charged and convicted on numerous counts of sexual assault on 36 boys during his time on the south and west coast. For the sexual deviances he committed that spanned three decades, Bennett served four years of a nearly 20-year prison sentence.

In the biggest civil suit of its kind brought against the Roman Catholic Church John Doe vs. Kevin Bennett, St. Johns lawyers Greg Stack and Richard Rogers sought monetary compensation from the Roman Catholic Church for the 36 victims.

The court battle, that lasted 16 years, concluded with the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. George’s being held both directly and vicariously liable and ordered to pay $13 million in damages to Bennetts victims.

A door not closed

The decision three years ago has not brought closure to Randy who has received only half of what he is entitled to in the settlement. He feels the sluggishness of the payments from the diocese is an extra bit of salt to rub in the wounds of Bennetts victims.

Its hard to close the door, when this is still there lingering, he explained. Its just something that seems we can never get to put behind us. They (Roman Catholic Church) could have settled this out of court 16 years ago but they wanted to fight it. If they were truly sorry for what happened to us, then why did they fight it so hard in court, right up to the highest court?

A priceless childhood

But no amount of money, he knows, will ever buy back his childhood, or buy the security and the structure Bennett robbed from him when he was defenseless.

When Randy considers his life, in retrospect, he sees how he was an easy target for the gross indecencies of the insatiable pedophile. The loss of his mother when he was just a baby, his tender formative years with embittered grandparents and an absentee father were just a prelude for what came next. The pinnacle was his adolescence and early teens riddled with sexual abuse. The events made for a crumbled foundation for a difficult adulthoodfor a boy whose heart never found a true home.

Years of drinking and breaking down emotionally, when the booze failed to flood away the memories; uncontrollable anger, problems with authority figures all made his adult life a roller coaster of challenges.

Hes made it

He hasnt had a drink in 12 years now. He finally has the love of someone loyal and supportive in his lifehe found that in his wife Pat of 11 years. He has received therapy in anger management and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Randy was in his 40s before he finally got the better of Kevin Bennett and survived the torment inflicted on him so many years ago; his life, at long last, is coming together. He is grateful for the job hes held at the Iron Ore Company of Canada for the last 19 years and he credits the company and United Steelworkers President George Kean for the understanding and support theyve shown through his very difficult times.

Id like to see Kevin Bennett today and talk to him, Randy said. I want him to look me in the eye, because I am a survivor now, and tell me he is sorry. I want him to see me now as someone strong not the little boy of 11 or 12 years old. I am not afraid of him anymore. He has taken too much of my life and I wont let him take anymoreI know hed never have the guts to ever apologize.

editor@theaurora.ca

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Newfoundland confronts its priest abuse scandal

Settlement costs threaten parishes

Boston Globe

By Doug Struck, Washington Post  |  July 3, 2005 

STEPHENVILLE, Newfoundland — In the hardscrabble fishing villages of this remote island, the Rev. Kevin Bennett was ”like a god,” a former altar boy said. He was more important than a cop, and more feared than parents, said the altar boy, who was one of his victims. Dozens of boys kept Bennett’s secret as he ordered each into his bed to fondle and rape them.

Now, 16 years after the priest was sent to prison, a $10.5 million settlement was reached last month over the sexual abuse claims of 39 former altar boys. The suit is causing the Roman Catholic diocese here to prepare to put churches, parish halls and priests’ homes up for sale.

”We always thought we owned the church,” said Theresa LaCosta, 78, who lives down the hill from Our Lady of Fatima Church in Piccadilly, a cluster of poor homes with rich views of emerald hills that plunge into St. George’s Bay. She said her husband, now dead, badly hurt his back while helping to lay the church foundation. ”Now they are going to take the church away?”

As churches in the United States and Canada grapple with the aftermath of sex abuse claims, similar anguish might be felt by Catholics far and wide.

”This is a wake-up call for the entire church,” said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Washington lawyer who has counseled victims.

Doyle said the Newfoundland case could be ”potentially devastating” for dioceses in the United States. Canada’s Supreme Court ruled that the Newfoundland diocese owned all of its parishes’ property. US dioceses are fighting against having churches and property included in settlements.

Claims paid by US dioceses amount to more than $1 billion, according to a study of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Three dioceses have entered bankruptcy protection to satisfy sex-abuse claims.

One man, 31, whose identity is protected by a court order, paced as he told his experiences.

Beginning when he was 13, the man said, Bennett would summon him to his home. ”It was: ‘Wash my feet. Rub my belly. Rub my groin. Lay on my stomach,’ ” the man recounted.

Last year the man tried to hang himself; he was in a coma for eight days. He hasn’t been able to hold a job or a relationship, he said.

”I will never get over it,” the man said. As a young priest in the 1960s, Bennett enticed altar boys by roaring around on a motorcycle, starting a Boy Scout troop and inviting them to his cabin to swim or ride a snowmobile.

”If I told my grandparents, who raised me, that I was being abused by the priest, they would have smacked me for lying,” Randy Johnston, 48, the only victim publicly identified, said in a telephone interview from Labrador City, Newfoundland.

5 Responses to Bennett: Father Kevin Bennett

  1. kevin says:

    I hope that baster rots in hell in waht he had did

  2. deeplybetrayed says:

    However, Bennett lives in Stephenville, goes to Mass every day and enjoys his freedom and pension. I would like to see his computer checked by police.
    Now we have Fr. Smith’s past to deal with. This court case should be in February unless it has been postponed the way Lahey’s often was. Bishop Peter Hundt sent a letter to our parishes last weekend (Feb. 18-19, 2012) asking us to pray and fast for the victims, for healing and to give alms as to support them. I couldn’t read the letter, someone gave me the highlights. The same strategy: point the fingers back at us, blame us for not praying enough, and ask us to pay for their crime.

  3. Mike Mc says:

    Prey…Pray… pay….
    Pension? If not all monies have been payed to abuse victims, why is B. getting a pension?

  4. Linda says:

    I grew up in the community of St bernards where that bastard was our parish priest for years.Thank god I was female,as he didn’t seem to prey on girls!Back then he walked around like he was God!Apparantly,during the trial that narcassist showed no remorse for any of the damage he had caused all of these young boys when he spent all of those years in our diocese.Shame on you Kevin Bennett,if there’s a hell you will certainly have your place there.I believe,to this day you still have no idea of the damage and immense pain you caused your victims and the families that trusted you.you stole their childhood,their trust in others,and their belief humanity and decency in others.Inmy opinion,you should still be rotting in prison because your victims are forever ,emotionally and mentally imprisioned by the ungodly criminal acts you inflicted upon them.

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