Disgraced priest sentenced to three years in prison

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Kingston Whig Standard

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 7:28:00 EDT PM

By Sue Yanagisawa, Kingston Whig-Standard

A retired Roman Catholic priest convicted in September of sexually assaulting a young boy in Kingston over a period of about four years in the late 1980s and early 1990s was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison.

Robin Quinton Gwyn, 69, has also been ordered included on the Sex Offender Information Registry for 20 years and Superior Court Justice Wolfram Tausendfreund has imposed a 20-year judge’s order that forbids the priest attending public parks, swimming areas and other places where children are or could reasonably be expected to be present, including play grounds, school grounds and community centres. He’s prohibited as well from volunteering in any capacity that places him in a position of trust or authority over anyone under 16 and is barred from having personal contact with children under 16 unless supervised by a responsible adult approved by the court.

Gwyn was a teacher for 10 years before entering seminary and while still a candidate for the priesthood in 1985 was assigned to work for a summer with the pastor at Holy Family on Wiley Street and the following summer at St. Anthony of Padua in Centreville, north of Camden East.

He served as a deacon at St. Mary’s Cathedral in 1987, was ordained there in 1988, and was then assigned to St. Francis Xavier Parish in Brockville.

Three years later, in 1991, Gwyn was appointed chaplain of Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School, a position he continued to fill after transferring in 1992 to Kingston’s francophone parish, St Francois D’Assise.

Ultimately, he left this area in 2002, however, to take over a parish in Carleton Place, then abruptly took a leave of absence and retired in 2004, moving to Nova Scotia where he’s lived for the past 10 years on a 50-acre horse farm owned by his brother.

It was disclosed during his trial that his leave of absence and retirement followed a complaint that resulted Gwyn undergoing psycho-sexual assessments in 2004 at the Royal Ottawa Hospital in Ottawa and the Southdown Institute in Aurora, north of Toronto, which specializes in treating clergy and ‘vowed religious’. Both assessments identified him as a homosexual pedophile and disclosed that he’d admitted to having had nine sexual relationships with boys between 14 and 18 years old prior to 2004, including four with teenage students when he was a teacher in his twenties.

Following his assessments Gwyn was, in his own words, “de-parished” by the church. But he continues to be a priest and according to assistant Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis receives a pension of $2,400 a month. Laarhuis said the church also “continues to support him with respect to his legal bills.”

Notwithstanding his earlier admissions Gwyn pleaded not guilty to molesting his accuser in the trial that Justice Tausendfreund decided, requiring his victim — now in his forties — to testify in open court.

The judge commented on the rarity of having a witness so overwhelmed they bolt from the courtroom during testimony, much less having them do it twice and said Gwyn’s accuser “running out of the courtroom spoke volumes to me, at least.”

Justice Tausendfreund observed that when Gwyn met his accuser the man was a lonely, friendless boy, from an abusive family. He felt like a misfit and the judge said his vulnerability must have been apparent to the priest, yet Gwyn’s interactions with him were “akin to grooming him and that led to sexual contact.”

syanagisawa@postmedia.com

8 Responses to Disgraced priest sentenced to three years in prison

  1. Sylvia says:

    Three years. I always think these sentences should be much stiffer, but he has been convicted and finally he’s off to jail where he should have been a long time ago.

    Thank you “Danny.” I know the last place in the world you wanted to be was in that courtroom testifying, but you made it through! Be proud of yourself. You did it. You found the strength and you did it, and now a clerical molester has been exposed for the wolf in sheep’s clothing that he is and is heading for jail.

    I think this sentence is for both convictions? I will have to check, but I think the two cases merged on sentencing? If that’s the case, then thank you to the other victim too.

    (PS: I have the judge’s reasons for judgment but do want to do a significant amount of redacting before posting. I will pick away at that and eventually get it posted)

  2. moi says:

    3 years ! He deserves much more .. did not get update by email for some reason .. so he is in jail now ? Or did I see another date in May to be ` spoken to` ?

  3. Sylvia says:

    Yes, he is supposed to be in jail. That’s for the charges which went to trial and for which he was convicted.

    And, yes, there is another court date. He still has to be sentenced for the charges to which he entered a guilty plea, so, there is a 26 July 2017 court date . This July date is probably to set a date for a sentencing hearing or for sentencing itself, or both.

  4. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Danny – Thank You! The time you have spent all these years living with guilt and shame are gone. You have played a major role in seeing that the church now has to practise what it preaches.
    Future generations will be much safer, thanks to your courage and perseverance. Way to go!!! Mike.

  5. John Franklin says:

    Just a short question – if in 2004 the Archdiocese, Southdown and the Ottawa Hospital all learned through assessment that he had abused young teenagers, did they all have an obligation to report?

    How specific would the information need to be in order for them to report? Would specific dates, names etc be needed for that to happen?

    • Sylvia says:

      Good question John. Not unfortunately an easy answer.

      Yes, there is a duty to report, BUT, what has happened is that the Child and Family Services Act which governs the duty to report makes reference to “a child” or “the child” who is need of protection vs ‘children.’ Believe it or not, this is interpreted to mean that there is no point in reporting that children in general are at risk.

      Here is a link to the current Child and Family Services Act in Ontario. (Those grey pars referring to child porn have been sitting there waiting to be proclaimed law for years now . What’s the problem?) The duty to report in Ontario, and I believe in most provinces and territories, is to to Children’s Aid Society, NOT to police.

      Anyway, this whole business of a duty to report was at the heart of the Cornwall sex abuse scandal and cover-up. Constable Perry Dunlop learned that an investigation by Cornwall Police Service into sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald had been terminated, presumably because the victim had received payment from the diocese. He knew Father Charles MacDonald was active at a local parish with ready and unfettered access to children. Perry reported to CAS. He believed that children were at risk. He believed that he had a he had a duty to report. He did so.

      Perry was charged by his own police force. Thankfully, he was exonerated. But, that was merely the first few steps in what was to become a long and extremely complicated story. Much of it can be be found here in Perry’s Willstate.

      Despite recognition by many who realize fully that common sense dictates that a real or suspect molester is at large in a community means that children are or may be at risk, officials doggedly stick to the notion that children collectively can not be deemed to be at risk.

      So, back to the duty to report in 2004 by those you mention, ie the Archdiocese, Southdown and the Ottawa Hospital. Yes, those who knew had a duty to report TO CAS. But, presumably in order to report they should have been identifying by name or other means of ID specific to a particular child, those children whom they deemed to be at risk by name.

      I’m not sure if I am making this clear. Do you see how convoluted and ridiculous this is?

      There are those who abide by what I view as common sense, and there are those who insist that the Act applies only to “a” child or “the” child. To my knowledge the latter comes out the legal winner. Despite the hullabaloo surrounding the situation in Cornwall and testimony regarding the duty to report at the Cornwall Public Inquiry, nothing has been done to change those portions of the Act which presumably restrict the duty to report to reporting only that “a” particular child or “the” particular child is at risk.

      Meanwhile the porn sections of the law have been sitting there for years waiting to be proclaimed and thus enacted. Why? What’s the problem?

      There is so much that needs to be changed if we truly are going to protect children who are at risk .

  6. John Franklin says:

    Great reply!

    So clearly with 14-17 year olds we have ‘children’ since they are minors. This is only speculation on my part, but I can see someone being assessed as a homosexual pedophile and perhaps the accused admitting to past abuse….I’m just thinking out loud as to whether there could ever have been a specific sharing of actual names and dates of victims with Southdown, etc etc? It might have happened but that’s a little harder to believe ?

    So if I am understanding you correctly, a ‘general’ reporting would not not be required or acted upon – i.e. Father So and So committed past crimes against children we have discovered through assessment?

    • Sylvia says:

      The age of majority in the province of Ontario is currently 16: in Quebec it is 18. (Ontario used to be 14) Dioceses such as Pembroke straddle both provinces.

      Re your question. Have you ever heard of anyone being charged for failure to report? I don’t believe I have. With the countless cases we have encountered over the years where known or suspect molesters were quietly recycled, have you ever heard of one single individual being charged? Ever?

      No matter, regardless of the wording and tap dancing on this ‘duty to report’ I do personally believe that CAS should be notified when children are deemed to be at risk. However I personally and strongly believe that the real duty to report should be to police. Always. We’re talking criminal acts. Make the duty to report to police, and then insist that police in turn report to CAS.

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