A CHURCH IN CRISIS: A TIMELINE

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Atlantic Canada Frank

27 October 2009

BY HELEN HANDBASKET

  • May 29, 1940: Raymond John Lahey born in St. John’s, the British Dominion of Newfoundland, to Raymond John Lahey and Marguerite Mary Murphy.
  • 1953: Sexual predator Father Hugh Vin­cent MacDonald is ordained in the Diocese of Antigonish, and for the next 39 years as­serts his moral authority over numerous pa­rishioners, particularly those under the age of consent. Father Hughie V. “retires” in 1992.
  • 1955-1971: Diocese of Yarmouth men of the cloth Adolphe LeBlanc (Frank 552) and Raoul Deveau (Frank 491) allegedly abuse several altar boys and a young girl in their re­spective Yarmouth County and Digby County parishes, ongoing N.S. Supreme Court lawsuits allege (Frank 491, 522). Fa­ther Adolphe died January 14, 1971; Father Raoul died October 1982.
  • July 20, 1960: William Edward Power con­secrated as sixth Bishop of Antigonish, suc­ceeding John R. MacDonald, Bish from 1950­1959.
  • 1961: Infamous twins; serial abusers Claude and Clair Richard, are ordained to lead the Antigonish flock.
  • June 1962: Antigonish ordains future con­victed pedophile James Mombourquette, whose modus operandi included forcing boys to rub baby oil over themselves and weightlift in the nude.
  • June 13, 1963: Raymond Lahey is ordained in the Archdiocese of St. John’s, Nfld., eight months after Vatican ll convened in Rome for Catholic Church renewal.
  • 1963: St. Ninian’s parish priest Father Hughie V. allegedly impregnates a 21-year­old parishioner (Frank 467).
  • 1968: Father Lahey begins his second call­ing, as a theology professor at Memorial U., where he teaches until 1981.
  • Mid-1970s: Nfld. church authorities receive reports of widespread sexual abuse in the Mount Cashel orphanage, run by the Irish Christian Brothers in Canada religious or­der. The 1990 Winter Commission report concludes church leaders did nothing to stop the “deviant or sexually inappropriate behav­iour.”
  • 1975-1976: The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Police investigate numerous Mount Cashel child abuse complaints, but fail to pursue criminal charges. Unanswered to this day: why?
  • Circa 1977: A delegation from Larry’s River inform then-Antigonish Bishop William “The Mover” Power that Father Clair Rich­ard was fondling an altar boy. Power ships the deviant to an alcohol treatment centre in Ontario, court documents later reveal. After a month away, Father Clair returns to Antigonish in a new parish.
  • 1979: In Newfoundland, Alphonsus Penney is appointed the Archbishop of St. John’s, an era of church leadership best char­acterized by the phrase: “See no evil, hear no evil, tell no evil.”
  • 1981: Penney appoints Father Lahey vicar-general, his 21C, an authority Lahey holds until 1986.
  • 1985: Mount Cashel abuse victim, teenager Shane Earle attempts suicide and is hospi­talized for two months. Recent media reports and Hughes Inquiry testimony indicate Earle tried to kill himself after he saw child porn in Lahey’s house.
  • 1986: Father Hughie V. charged in New Glasgow with five sex-related offences, for raping two girls, aged 12 and 13 when the 1970s offences occurred. After both victims choked up at a preliminary hearing, the charges were dropped “for lack of evidence.”
  • July 8, 1986: Lahey named Bishop of St. George’s, the Western Newfoundland dio­cese.
  • December 17, 1986: Colin Campbell named seventh Bishop of Antigonish, replac­ing Power.
  • 1987: As I reported in Frank 147, “As early as 1987, various priests in the (Antigonish) Diocese were known to have made remarks about inappropriate behaviour by (Claude and Clair) Richards.”

I noted: “Very serious questions about how the Diocese dealt with the whole matter of priestly sex abuse continue to rumble through the ranks of the RC faithful in Eastern Nova Scotia.”

I asked: “What action has the Diocese taken to try to compensate victims whose lives have been damaged by these priests?”

  • 1989: Archbishop Penney sets up the Win­ter Commission, chaired by former Lt.-Gov. Gordon Winter, to investigate the church’s role in the widening Mount Cashel scandal. As a result of its findings, Penney resigns in 1991.
  • May 17, 1989: Bishop Cohn Campbell sug­gests some abused Mount Cashel boys en­couraged their attackers. He writes: “If the vic­tims were adolescents, why did they go back to the same situation once there had been one pass or suggestion? Were they co-operating in the matter or were they true victims? I do not want to suggest that homosexual activity between a priest and adolescent is therefore moral. Rather, it does not have the horrific character of pedophilia.”
  • June 1, 1989: The $2 million, government-appointed Hughes Inquiry begins in St. John’s, headed by retired Ontario judge Samuel Hughes. Hundreds of Mount Cashel abuse cases are documented.
  • Oct. 18, 1989: Lahey knew a Christian Brother was having sex with several boys, according to Hughes Inquiry testimony from Shane Earle. Shane said he told this to then-priest Lahey, who informed his RC superiors and recommended the Brother be removed.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 14

TIMELINE, FROM PAGE 11

  • Nov. 10, 1989: St. George’s Bishop Lahey relieves Corner Brook Msgr. William Boone of his clerical duties, after Boone is charged with one count each of indecent assault and gross indecency from incidents in 1965 to 1968.

“These charges will bring even greater grief and sorrow to our Catholic community,” Lahey acknowledges.

Boone becomes the 19th priest or former priest charged or convicted of sexual abuse in Nfld. since 1986.

  • Feb. 15, 1990: Diocese of St. George’s priest Kevin Bennett pleads guilty to 36 counts of gross indecency involving dozens of boys.
  • April 24, 1990: Bennett sentenced to four years in prison, after the court hears of hun­dreds of sexual assaults dating back to 1961. Father Kevin would ply altar boys with liquor and money, and buy them dirt bikes after sex.
  • 1990: A former altar boy molested by priests (including Father Claude) burns down the Glebe House in Big Pond, and breaks into priests’s homes in D’Escousse, Louisbourg, and St. Peter’s.
  • 1991: 36 Nfld. men launch a civil suit against Father Kevin Bennett. The lawsuit also sues the RC Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s, the RC Episcopal Corp. of St. George’s, the RC Church, former Archbishop Penney for negligence, and Bishop Lahey as vicari­ously liable.
  • June 24, 1991: RCMP in Cape Breton charge Fathers Clair and Claude Richard, and Stellarton priest Jim Mombourquette with a combined 30 charges of indecent assault (23), sexual assault (4) and obstruction of justice (3). The offences date back to 1965.
  • July 5, 1991: Big Pond Father Daniel Doucet charged with sex offences commit­ted between 1976-78. Doucet denies the al­legations, and is later acquitted.
  • July 20, 1991: Grand Mira’s Father Clair is sentenced to four years in jail on four counts of indecent assault, between 1977­1983, against an altar boy, aged 11 when the assaults began.
  • November 1992: Father Claude sentenced to five months for a sex-related conviction.
  • June 1994: Father Claude jailed for four years on other sex-related charges.
  • February 1995: The Antigonish Diocese files defence papers for a civil action against it and Fathers Clair, Claude and Jim, stating the boys’s own “voluntary actions” were responsi­ble for any damages suffered. According to the Diocese, any sexual activity between Father Claude and a 12-year-old altar boy was either consensual or began from “acts initiated by the boy.” Lawyer John McKiggan, representing the victims, is dumbstruck. “I am astonished that they would allege that a 12-year-old child volunteered to being abused,” he says.
  • March 1995: After public outrage, the Dio­cese retracts its defence. It later emerges the Diocese spent over $340,000 defending its un­holy trinity of pedophile priests.
  • Nov. 15, 1995: The Church appeals an ear­lier N.S. Supreme Court decision that awarded $23,000 to a former altar boy abused by nude weightlifting fetishist Father Jim.
  • 2000: After a so-far nine-year legal battle, the Nfld. Supreme Court decides Lahey and Penney are vicariously liable for Father Kevin’s sexual assaults. The parties appeal. The judge dismisses the RC Church and the St. John’s Diocese from the suit.
  • 2000: The Nfld. Court Of Appeal rules Lahey and Penney are not personally liable for Father Kevin’s criminal transgressions. Led by Bishop Lahey, the St. George’s Diocese appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing the cash-poor Diocese had no liabil­ity but the RC Church did.
  • Oct. 30, 2001: Pope John Paul II states: “A sin against the Sixth Commandment … by a cleric with a minor under 18 years of age is to be considered a grave sin.”
  • Dec. 26, 2001: Colin Campbell declares reading Frank Magazine a sinful act.
  • January 2002: The Boston Globe begins publishing a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles, exposing rampant clergy abuse in Boston.
  • April 4, 2002: After he booked a routine physiotherapy meeting, New Waterford na­tive and B.C. contractor David Martin, 39, vanishes. After 48 hours, his family, including brother Ronnie Martin, fly to B.C. from Cape Breton to help the search.
  • April 16: Two hikers find Dave’s truck in an old logging road, and his dead body nearby. In his suicide note, Dave explains he killed himself over childhood abuse from sexual predator Father Hughie V. Dave’s note urges his wife to go public.
  • Early May 2002: B.C. RCMP forward David’s suicide note to C.B. police, as victims come forward with their abuse histories. The official investigation into Father Hughie kicks into overdrive.

Within days, the Archdiocese of Toronto removes Father Hughie, 79, from priestly du­ties at the Guardian Angels parish in Orillia.

  • Oct. 25, 2002: Pope John Paul II accepts the resignation of Bishop Colin Campbell over health concerns.
  • March 2003: Father Hughie V. charged with 23 sex-related offences involving 15 victims, 10 men and five women, all minors when the offences ocurred, dating back to 1961.
  • April 6, 2003: The Vatican appoints Lahey the eighth Bishop of Antigonish.
  • April 19, 2003: Lahey tells the Chronicle Herald, “I would have to say that I feel sad­dened, and even angry, by any cases of the abuse of children, the more so perhaps when such abuse was committed by those with a responsibility to them. It is wrong and it does harm, especially to the victim, but also to the whole community. It is wrong, too, when it is concealed (because) other children could be harmed in the future.”
  • October 2003: Pope John Paul II writes in his book A Light For The World, “There is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.”
  • Oct. 18, 2003: Bishop Lahey designates October a month of prayer for sexual abuse victims. He writes: “People view (sexual abuse by priests) as something that’s clearly wrong, it’s a scandal, it has to stop. Clearly it doesn’t belong in the Church.”
  • March 25, 2004: After a 16-year legal bat­tle, the Supreme Court of Canada rules that nearly 40 former altar boys abused by Father Kevin can sue the local diocese and the priest who abused them, but fails to decide if the RC church as a whole is liable.
  • June 27, 2004: Hugh Vincent MacDonald, 82, dies in a Toronto hospital, awaiting trial on 27 charges involving 15 boys.
  • Aug. 29, 2004: Bishop Lahey issues state­ment: “I, as bishop … acknowledge the im­measurable pain and suffering that can be caused by those who abuse their positions of trust as a priest.”
  • March 9, 2005: Crippled by a $13-million settlement agreement it reached with the vic­tims of Father Kevin, the Diocese of St. George’s files for bankruptcy protection, the first RC diocese in Canada to do so.
  • August 2005: The Toronto Star reports the St. George Diocese plans to sell 26 churches, 38 cemeteries, 13 parish halls, four homes, two convents, four schools, two sports fields, a community centre, a museum, a park and 17 vacant properties, to pay for the Bennett settlement.
  • July 19, 2008: Pope Benedict XVI issues a full apology to victims of sex abuse by priests. “Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice.”
  • Jan. 5, 2009: The newly renamed Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador pays the last of its nearly $13-million compensation to the 36 victims of Father Bennett.
  • Aug. 7, 2009: With Dave Martin’s brother Ronnie by his side, Bishop Lahey announces a $13-million settlement with the victims of Fathers Hughie, Clair, Claude, Jim, Frank McNeil and Mike McNeil. Lawyer McKiggan’s firm represents the victims and is expected to receive about $400,000.
  • Sept. 15, 2009: Lahey’s laptop is confis­cated at the Ottawa airport. Uh-oh.
  • Sept. 26, 2009: Bishop Lahey announces his resignation for “personal reasons.”

Sept. 30, 2009: Raymond Lahey, 69, charged with possession and importation of child pornography

One Response to A CHURCH IN CRISIS: A TIMELINE

  1. Pamela says:

    Dr Brian Neil Talarico North Bay Has been convicted of child molestation, an possession of child pornography on his computer. Sexually molesting a young boy. He had prior convictions for child molestation in 1990 and 2001. After his parole in 2006. Dr. Talarico Brian. Works for north east mental health centre, despite his background, and numerous complaints against him of abuse, fraud, negligence, and imprisonment. Address: North East Mental Health Centre, North Bay Campus Highway 11 North, North Bay Ontario P1B 8L1, and now works for Act 2, North Bay.

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