Hickey: Father James Hickey

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Hickey gives communion at Brother Rice High School. Photo from the 1979-80 Brother Rice High School yearbook
Priest with Pope John Paul II in Newfoundland 1984


Priest Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Ordained 10 May 1970.  Adamantly denied the allegations against him, then …GUILTY plea September 1988 to charges related to sex abuse of young boys.  Sentenced to five years in jail. Reports that Hickey was molesting boys were ignored for 13 years.  In some instances Hickey was confronted with the allegations which he denied, in others he was not confronted at all.

Convicted molester Father Douglas Stamp testified at his own sex abuse trial that he had been sexually abused by Father James Hickey.

Good friend of Father Lorne Whalen. Seminary classmate of Father Chris Quinlan and reported to have been a frequent visitor at St. Vincent de Paul in Windsor where Quinlan was serving.    See:  15 February 2011: BMB and Fallona, Quinlan et al (redacted)


07 November 2013:  Guardian Insurance Company of Canada v Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St Johns and John Doe  (Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal)

31 September 2011:   .John Doe v Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s (St. John’s Archdiocese v Guardian Insurance and John Doe) (Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador)


24 April 2014:  “Top court won’t hear appeal in fight over who pays for priests’ sex abuse” & related articles

04 November 2011:  BLOG It seems to me there is evidence

04 November 2011: Abuse cases could be settled: lawyer

03 November 2011: Secrets and lies

02 November 2011: N.L. Archbishop told about sexual abuse in 1980: court documents

31 September 2011:  John Doe v Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s (St. John’s Archdiocese v Guardian Insurance and John Doe)

31 September 2011:  John Doe v Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s 2011 – searchable format

03 February 2011:  N.L. church failure to disclose abuse ‘voids’ insurance


Archbishops of St. John’s from time James Hickey first entered the seminary  until his death: Patrick James Skinner (January 1951-April 1979); Alphonsus Penney (April 1979-Feb. 1991); James MacDonald (February 1991-December 200o)


The following information is drawn from the Winter Commission Report (WCR), Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD), media (M) and Unholy Orders (UH)

1992:  Died in hospital of apparent heart attack

February 1992:  released.  Had been allowed out on day parole periodically during his last two years in jail

September 1990: acquitted of charge of shoplifting while out on day parole

May 1989:  Robert Martin, a Church handyman and close friend of Hickey’s convicted.  Hickey used to introduce altar boys to Martin.

09 September 1988:  GUILTY plea to 20 counts of either sexual assault or gross indecency.  Sentenced to five years in jail by Provincial Court Judge Reginald Reid.  Served his jail term in Dorchester, New Brunswick (WCR)

12 January 1988: 3 charges gross indecency (WCR)

11 January 1988:  Hickey arrested.  According to WCR:

“Hickey was later charged and convicted of an offence which occurred after December 6, 1987, the date ion which the Archbishop chose to accept Hickey’s denial rather than the victim’s allegation.” (WCR)

Three of the complainants against Hickey also alleged sex abuse by Robert Martin, a church handy-man and  long-time friend of Hickey.  Hickey and Martin owned three houses together.  Martin was charged and convicted in 1989.

06 December 1987:  Archbishop Penney met with Father James Hickey.  This was the first time Penney had approached Hickey since receiving the letter.  Hickey denied the allegations.  Penney accepted the denials.  Hickey was allowed to continue serving as parish priest at Holy Trinity in Ferryland and Immaculate Conception in Cape Broyle.

05 December 1987:  Police (Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) visited Archbishop Penney.  They inquired about dates of Hickey’s assignments.  Afterwards Penney contacted and arranged a meet with Hickey.

End November 1987:  Social Services paid an informal to Archbishop Penney.  At that time Penney had not acted upon the information he had received from the victim in Ottawa and by mail.

04  November 1987:  the victim wrote to Penney indentifying Hickey as his abuser.  At the same time the victim wrote to Social Services but did not tell Penney that he had done so.  Penney could not recall when he received the letter.

October 1987:  Archbishop Penney was told personally by a male adult in Ottawa whom the archbishop knew very well that as a student he, the male adult, had been sexually abused by a priest.

1986:  In an article dealing with juvenile deliquency in the Monitor (Diocesan paper) quoted as saying:

” I have very few problems with youth…I have a lot of problems with adults because all of the things that the youngsters are getting blamed for and are perhaps doing, very often are cuased by adults…Children do not put up the money to bring up the large shipments of drugs, they don;t own the stores that sell the filthy magazines, neither do they publish them; that’s the adults…” (OH)

1985-1986:  Pastor at Holy Rosary RC Church, Portugal Cove, Newfoundland (CCCD)

while at Holy Rosary Hickey would give the boys “wedgies”in the sacristy.  He would invite boys to the rectory presumably to assist them with their homwork, then he encourgaed them to help themsleves to the liquor cabinet. When the boys became drowsy Hickey would put them to bed – and then the sex abuse began.  Hickey supplied the boys with cigarettes and alcohol and allowed even those too young to drive to drive his Cadillac.  He left money sitting around the house – when it disppeared with the boys not a word was said.(UO)

The boy’s drew lots behind Hickey’s back to see who would have to sleep with him.  Sometimes when boys  boys refused to co-operate he scared them with threats that the priest who had died in rectory would come and get them in the middle of the night. (OH)

When Hickey heard that one boy was talking about what was going on, he grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck and essentially threatened him.” (OH)

Hickey attempted sodomy unsuccessfuly with several victims. At least one of the victims was particularly repulsed by the knowledge that Hickey liked to engage in oral sex right after anal sex. (OH)

1984:  During the visit of Pope John Paul II to Newfoundland Hickey intoduced the Holy Father to the leaders of other religious denominations at a service in Quidi Vidi Lake.

 Later in 1984: police informed Father James Doody, the Director of the Ministry for Priests Program, of the Portugal Cove allegation. Doody felt the matter had been dealt with and no charges had been laid – he did not inform the Archbishop (WCR)

1984:  allegation that Hickey sexually assaulted a juvenile in Portugal Cove.  Allegation made by a relative of the alleged victim. Presumably insufficient evidence for police to lay charge but they did notify diocesan officials of the allegations,  Monsignor Raymond Lahey, then Vicar general of the Archdiocese, was informed of the allegations; he was also advised that no charges would be laid.  Lahey gave the information to Archbishop Penney.  No action was taken.  (WCR)

1983: staged a massive youth honour in honour of the visit of Prince Charles and Lady Diana  to Newfoundland (UO)

1980: – instrumental in initiating what was called the “altar boy jamboree” program. Altar boys from all parishes in the Archdiocese were invited to attend.  According to the WCR:

Following one jamboree Monsignor Denis Walsh, then Vicar General, commented to the Archbishop that ‘some of the boys have found Father Hickey different from other priests – some reference was made to him wrestling with boys.’ A number of priests refused to send altar boys to the jamboree citing specifically the reason that ‘homosexuals’ were holding the jamboree.”  (WCR)

According to legal documents filed with the court in October 2011 Penney was told in 1989 by Randy Joseph Barnes that Hickey had engaged in sexual activity with boys in Rushoon. (Penney told the Winter Commission that he first heard in 1987)

1979: just after Archbishop Penney was installed as Archbishop, Hickey requested a transfer because he was not happy in Rushoon.  He was transferred to Holy Rosary in Portugal Cove,

According to the WCR:

The Archbishop stated to the Commission that, before becoming Archbishop in 1979, he had been aware of general rumours that Hickey was homosexual.  Hickey was on a list of priests regarded as having a homosexual orientation which was given by Monsignor Morrissey to Archbishop Penney shortly after he assumed office.  (WCR)

08 November 1977: transferred to Rushoon on the Burin Peninsula            (WCR)

1977: another priest reported the same incident of 1975 to Morrissey.  Hickey was summoned to Morrissey’s house.  Hickey denied the allegations.  The priest later reported that he felt Morrissey did not believe the victim. (WCR)

1976 -‘77 school yr.: a priest told Vicar General David Morrissey that Hickey was accused of sexually assaulting a young man.  The Winter Commission believed that this was the same incident reported to Morrissey by the victim.  Morrissey instructed the priest to leave the matter in his hands.  The priest heard no more about it. (WCR )

1975:  Vicar General David Morrissey was told by a 17-year-old that he had been  sexually assaulted by Hickey.  Hickey denied allegations. No further action was taken(WCR)

1970 – ’76:  held a variety of positions

– chaplain Holy Heart of Mary HS, St. John’s, NFLD.  Holy Heart was then exclusively for girls – Hickey requested a transfer to Brother Rice Regional HIS which was exclusively for boys)

– established Basilica Youth choir (WCR)

– appointed Archdiocesan Youth director (WCR)

1976: Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of St. John’s and  Editor the Monitor (diocesan newspaper)

One of his earliest works was to establish a program at the Basilica to take underprivileged children to summer camp. (WCR, UO)

Served on the NFLD Hostelling Association which ministered to the needs of travelling youth. (UO)

Elected first president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Youth Serving agencies.   (WCR )

“Pastoral activities centre around Youth, Provincial and Local youth Groups” (Who’s Who: Newfoundland Confederation celebration 1949-1975 Silver anniversary edition)

10 May 1970:  ORDAINED for the Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland  ordained at St. Patrick’s Parish, St. John’s, NFLD.    (WCR) Initially served as assistant at teh Basilica of Saint John the Baptist (UO)

03 December 1969: incardinated for the Archdiocese of St. John’s.   (WCR)

1969:  02 October 1969:  After a conversation between Carter and Archbishop Skinner it was agreed that Hickey could be a candidate for the Archdiocese of St. John’s, Newfoundland (WCR)

1968:  requested and received a dispensation for the canonical impediment from the Bishop of London, Ontario, Emmett Carter (later Cardinal Archbishop of Toronto) (WCR)

1967:  mother died.  Applied to return to St. Peter’s Seminary to study as a priest for the Diocese of London, Ontario (WCR)

1963-’64: left St. Peter’s  Seminary after consulting doctor who said he needed a rest (returned to his previous employ with CBC)  (WCR) 

while at St. Peter’s pursued an Arts degree at Western University

1963: joined the Canadian Naval reserve with rank of Lieutenant (Who’s Who: Newfoundland Confederation celebration 1949-1975 Silver anniversary edition)

1960:  St. Peter’s Seminary, London, Ontario (WCR) (why I wonder was he permiited to enter the seminary in the first place with a canonical impediment to ordination?)

1958:  entered Junior Seminary of the Priests of the Sacred Heart  in Delaware, Ontario (WCR)

Was rejected as a candidate for the priesthood by Archbishop Skinner.  The rejection was due to a canonical impediment arising at the time from the circumstances of his birth (born out of wedlock)

1963: Working in CBC Personnel Department (Who’s Who: Newfoundland Confederation celebration 1949-1975 Silver anniversary edition)

1950: began work with CBC Radio in the Program Department, CBC Newsroom. With the advent of TV was appointed Program Operations officer (Who’s Who: Newfoundland Confederation celebration 1949-1975 Silver anniversary edition)

worked – Prior to entering the seminary served with the navy for a spell, then worked with CBC Radio in St. John’s (WCR)(UO)

– As an adolescent was active in parish life St. Joseph’s RC Church in St. John’s Newfoundland.  Alphonus L Penney, later Archbishop of Newfoundland, was pastor at St. John’s for some of that time ( WCR)

– Raised in Hoyle’s Town, an old quarter in the East End of St. John’s (UO)

16 August 1933: born in St. John’s NFLD (Who’s Who: Newfoundland Confederation celebration 1949-1975 Silver anniversary edition)


Priest in sex-abuse scandal dies

The Ottawa Citizen

19 June 1992

TORONTO (CP) — The first priest convicted of sexually abusing boys in a sex scandal that rocked Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic church died Thursday in hospital of an apparent heart attack, a Corrections Canada official said.

Rev. James Hickey, 59, died of heart failure in Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, Andrew Roy said.

Hickey was given a five-year prison sentence in 1988 after pleading guilty to 20 counts of sexual assault and gross indecency against boys. The offences dated back to 1970.

He was released from the Westmoreland minimum-security institution in Dorchester, N.B., earlier this year on mandatory supervision and moved to Toronto.

The former parish priest in St. John’s, Nfld. was among more than 20 current or former church officials charged with sex-related crimes.

He was a pillar of the community, heavily involved in the education of the young. When the Pope visited the Newfoundland capital in 1984, Hickey provided the official welcome, introducing the distinguished visitor to clergy.

The charges sent shock waves through the foundation of the Catholic Church in Newfoundland and especially along the Avalon Peninsula — the most wealthy, urbanized and Catholic area of the province.

Earlier this year, a church spokesman said no priest convicted of sexual offences will be allowed to return to a parish ministry in the archdiocese of St. John’s.

Hickey’s funeral will be in Toronto.


Nfld. priest acquitted of shoplifting while on day leave from prison

Edmonton Journal

27 September 1990

The Canadian Press

Amherst, N.S.

James Hickey, a Catholic priest convicted of sexually assaulting boys in his Newfoundland parishes, was found not quilty Wednesday of a shoplifting charge.

Hickey, 57, is serving his five-year sexual-assault term at the Westmorland minimum-security institute in nearby Dorchester, N.B.

He was charged with stealing a $19.95 bottle of aftershave lotion from a local Shoppers Drug Mart during an escorted day leave from prison April 19.

Diane Mitton, a retail private investigator employed at the store, testified she saw Hickey place the bottle of aftershave lotion in one of the several shopping bags he was carrying.

Hickey testified his hands were full, so he placed both the aftershave lotion and some hand soap on top of merchandise he had in another shopping bag.

He said he told the cashier he was buying the items. However, he said, he did not see her remove them from the bag because he was talking with a friend next to him.

The cashier personally removed the money from his hand because his hands were full. He said he did not notice how much change he received and simply presumed all the merchandise had been paid for.

Once outside the store, he realized he had not paid for the lotion, he said, but just as he was about to return to the store he was nabbed by security.

His lawyer, Debbie Gass, maintained that he had no reason to steal the lotion and every reason not to.

She was referring to Hickey’s testimony that prisoners returning from day leave must account for all merchandise bought and money spent. If concealed merchandise is found, prisoners are disciplined and leaves of absence may be curtailed.

Judge David Cole


Convict priest to be banned in Newfoundland

The Vancouver Sun 

24 January 1992

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Rev. James Hickey is to be released from prison on Feb. 4, but he will never be allowed to conduct a Roman Catholic ministry in Newfoundland again, a spokesman for Archbishop James McDonald said Wednesday.

“The archbishop has made it quite clear that no priest convicted of child sexual abuse will return to any pastoral ministry here in the archdiocese,” said Maxine Davis.

Hickey, 57, will be put on mandatory supervision until his sentence runs out in September 1993.

He has been serving a five-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in Dorchester, N.B., since being convicted in September 1988 of 20 sexual offences against young boys during his years as a parish priest in various Newfoundland communities. He has been released on day parole periodically over the last two years.

Hickey, was the first priest convicted in a sexual-abuse scandal that shook Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic church to its roots.


Convicted priest denies ex-resident’s allegations

The Windsor Star

29 September 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – A Roman Catholic priest serving a five-year prison term for sexually abusing boys has denied charges levelled against him in testimony at the inquiry into abuse at a St. John’s orphanage.

James Hickey said Thursday he has never even seen Johnny Williams, who has told the inquiry that the priest masturbated in front him and another altar boy after saying mass at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s.

In a telephone interview from Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick, Hickey said Williams’s statement was outrageous.

“I do not know nor have I ever been in the company of Mr. Williams,” Hickey said.

“For 20 months people have been making allegations and I have been silent. It is killing my family. The silence is saying I’m guilty.”

The 56-year-old priest pleaded guilty last September to 20 counts of sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault involving young boys.

Hickey admitted he did occasionally say mass at Mount Cashel.

“They had their own chapel and I was occasionally invited” to say mass, he said.

Hickey had worked in parishes in the province in Ferryland and Portugal Cove.

He will be eligible for full parole after serving one-third of his sentence. The parole board will conduct a review one month before the one-third is completed in May 1990.


Archbishop, church named in sex lawsuit

Edmonton Journal

02 September 1989

PORTUGAL COVE, Nfld. (CP) — Newfoundland’s top Roman Catholic may be forced to take the witness stand in a sexual assault-related lawsuit.

The suit, launched by the parents of a boy sexually assaulted by a priest, claims the church and Archbishop Alphonsus Penney of St. John were negligent in their handling of the scandal.

It’s the first lawsuit against the church over the scandal which has seen 18 priests and other members of the Catholic community charged or convicted of sexually abusing boys. Other alleged victims are suing the Newfoundland government.

Greg Stack, the parents’ lawyer, said Friday his clients are angry the church hasn’t helped their son, who was abused over a five-year period by Rev. James Hickey.

There is a court ban on identifying the boy.

The parents also blame Penney for not removing Hickey from the parish, even though he knew the priest was under police investigation.

Hickey, who was the local parish priest between 1979 and 1986, was sentenced last September to five years in prison for assaulting 20 boys from the area. The offences go back to 1970.

Stack said Penney may be required to give evidence at a discovery hearing into the case or during a trial.

“We would certainly entertain the idea of an out-of-court settlement but there is no indication that church lawyers are willing to do this,” he said.

Church lawyers are probably worried that such a settlement could spark a flood of similar suits, said Stack, who wouldn’t say how much money the family wants in compensation.

Eight other lawsuits have already been filed against government officials by men who claim they were abused as boys at the Mount Cashel orphanage in nearby St. John’s during the 1970s.

The men claim officials failed to protect them from abuse at the institution, which is run by Christian Brothers, a Catholic lay order.

While the lawsuits mount, Penney continues to deny requests for media interviews.

“It’s not correct to say we’re worried about a rash of suits,” said church spokesman Rev. Kevin Molloy, who replaced Hickey in Portugal Cove.

“The law is the law and the decision to sue is a personal decision of the families.”

The criticism that he and the archdiocese did not help victims in Portugal Cove is unfair, said Molloy. Church lawyers warned that offers of assistance could jeopardize the legal defence of priests charged.

Church lawyer Tom O’Reilly declined comment, saying he has not had enough time to study documents filed by the family.

Meanwhile, three inquiries have been set up to study the scandal, including two church commissions in St. John’s and Corner Brook, Nfld.

A judicial inquiry, headed by a retired Ontario judge, is investigating an alleged coverup of sex abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage.


Bishop tries to calm church

The Windsor Star

13 July 1989 

By Marty Gervais Star Religion Editor

Canada’s Roman Catholic priests shouldn’t all be brought under suspicion because “a small number” of priests have been charged with sex offences involving children, says the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In an open letter to Canadian Catholics, Archbishop James Hayes of Halifax maintained that while the church is in a state of “shock and pain” over these incidents, there should be more tolerance on the part of the public toward the 11,000 priests “who are faithfully trying to live their commitment.” These individuals “should not be brought under suspicion, ridicule, or judgment because of the sins of a small number,” the letter said.

At least 29 priests, former priests and church officials in Newfoundland, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia have been charged with sex offences involving children. Seventeen have been charged in Newfoundland alone.

IN THE FIRST public statement by the head of the umbrella organization of bishops across Canada, the Halifax archbishop said the pain of these incidents has reached “into all levels of our Canadian Catholic community.” He stressed this was particularly evident considering “the anguish endured in silence for years” by many of the victims. Hayes said the church community must listen to those who have been abused and understand their pain.

“We must offer them human and Christian support and make clear to them that we are sensitive to their special needs and that we seek reconciliation,” he said. In a telephone interview, the Halifax archbishop however daid there also has to be compassion for those who have been charged.

He said the immediate reaction from all quarters has been, “Why don’t you just kick these people out of the priesthood and have nothing to do with them?”

But this would be wrong, Hayes says.

“All we’re doing is saying we won’t let them be a threat here (in the church) anymore, but they can be a threat somewhere else,” he said.

The church must hold on to these people and make sure they are rehabilitated, he said.

“BUT ABOVE all, we have to remember we belong to a church that preaches mercy, pardon and reconciliation,” Hayes said. “But of course, nobody wants to hear that. They say, ‘Just kick them out!’ ”

The first among those to be exposed as a child molester was Rev. James Hickey of Newfoundland, who was charged in January 1988. This incident led to a provincial inquiry that determined that 17 priests, former priests and members of Catholic lay orders were involved in such practices.

Hayes hopes the findings of that inquiry will be ready for the fall session of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Ottawa. He hopes the bishops can figure out how to deal with the issue.

The CCCB president pointed out, however, that the conference itself cannot lay down any rules, but only guidelines. He said it is the responsibility of individual bishops to carry these out. Their only obligation is to Rome.

Hayes argued that it is wrong to assume the church has been “silent” about this issue since revelations came out in January.

He said there have been statememts from 11 bishops across the country on the issue. In addition to this, some dioceses have faced the issue squarely and urged congregations to pray openly at Sunday masses for not only the victims of these crimes, but the individuals charged with perpetrating them.

THE CONFERENCE president described the issue as perhaps “the most painful one I’ve had to deal with” in his work with the church. He has been a bishop for 24 years and a priest for 42.

One Windsor priest, who preferred not to be identified, agreed with the president.

“It’s such a terrible thing for these families (of the victims),” he said. “They need our prayers . . . But so do these priests, we can’t forget them.”

Rev. Michael Ryan, vice-rector of St. Peter’s Seminary, feels that the incidents involving priests and children have put “all priests under a certain shroud now.”

“You can’t help but feel it,” he said. “You read about it every day in the papers.”

Ryan said it’s true seminaries and institutions that train priests must feel this, too. “After all, we (priests) are trained to care (for victims). We’d hate to think that anyone is victimized by a priest.”

But Ryan defended the seminary training. “I am not sure (their crimes) relate to the failure of their training.”

He pointed out that rigorous screening and psychological testing is done to make sure candidates are properly prepared for the priesthood.


Parole refused for priest who molested altar boys

Toronto Star

26 June 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Father James Hickey, a Roman Catholic priest serving a five-year prison term for sexually assaulting boys, has been refused day parole.

Hickey, 55, pleaded guilty last September to 20 counts of sex- related offences against teenaged altar boys. He was denied parole after a recent review of his case, a parole board spokesman said yesterday.

In the past 18 months, 16 priests, former priests and other members of Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic community have been charged or convicted of sex offences against boys.


10 May 1989

Canadian Press

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP)

A former church handyman and long-time friend of a Roman

Catholic priest convicted of sex crimes has been convicted himself

of sex-related offences against altar boys.

Robert Martin, 39, of St. John’s was found guilty today of one

count of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.

He was sentenced to a total of nine months in jail — three

months for the indecent assault conviction and six months for

sexual assault.

Martin was acquitted on one count of sexual assault and another

charge of allowing a person under 18 to be in his house for the

purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

For more than 30 years, Martin was a friend of Father James

Hickey, a priest who was sentenced last September to five years in

prison after pleading guilty to 20 sex-related offences against

teenage altar boys in his parishes.

Martin and Hickey owned three houses together. Hickey testified

at Martin’s trial.

The charges against Martin came out of a police investigation

into allegations against Hickey.

Three of the four complainants against Martin were also

complainants against Hickey. The four males were young teenagers

at the time of the incidents — between 1983 and 1988.


During his Newfoundland Supreme Court trial, Martin’s testimony

was completely different from that of the complainants.

The complainants depicted Martin, five-foot-eight and 140

pounds, as the initiator of sexual activity after wrestling or

rough playing with the boys.

Martin denied he made the sexual advances and said either the

boys misunderstood his actions or made sexual advances toward him.

Defence lawyer James Oakley asked Mr. Justice David Riche to

dismiss all four charges on the grounds of reasonable doubt.

Crown prosecutor Cathy Knox countered by saying the

complainants were credible witnesses even though they may have

contradicted evidence by confusing times and minor details.

Martin originally went to trial in March but a mistrial was

declared when it was discovered his lawyer had also represented

Hickey — whom the Crown planned to call as a witness against him.

Martin was told to get a new lawyer and a new trial was


The Newfoundland Catholic church has been rocked by the series

of sexual charges against its members during the last two years.


A total of 14 priests, former priests and members of the

Christian Brothers, a celebate order that operates the Mount

Cashel orphanage in St. John’s, have been charged with sexual

offences against altar boys.

Two priests, including Hickey, have been convicted.

The church responded to the crisis last month by appointing a

five-member inquiry into sexual abuse of children by priests or

other members of the church community.

The mandate of the inquiry, headed by former Newfoundland

lieutenant-governor Gordon Winter, would also include finding out

how the behavior could have gone on so long without being detected

or reported.

The Newfoundland government has also appointed retired Ontario

Supreme Court judge Samuel Hughes to conduct a public inquiry into

allegations that police, social workers or church officials may

have covered up allegations in the mid-1970s of sexual abuse at

the St. John’s orphanage.

Government officials are also gathering information on sexual

abuse of children generally in Newfoundland to see if a broader

inquiry is needed.


Sex books bought with church cash

Edmonton Journal

14 June 1989

FERRYLAND, Nfld. (CP) — Rev. James Hickey used church funds to support his perversions and buy sex books, a former top church financial official told an inquiry into the priests’ sex scandal Tuesday.

Bernard Agriesti, former finance- committee chairman for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of St. John’s, said he fought many battles with Hickey over the priest’s freewheeling spending habits.

“Hickey had free access to large amounts of cash without accountability, so he could fund his activity,” Agriesti told the church- sponsored public meeting in this fishing village south of St. John’s.

Hickey, 55, is serving a five-year prison term for sexually abusing 20 young boys in the St. John’s area over a period of 18 years.

He was parish priest in Ferryland until his arrest in January 1988. The arrest sparked the scandal which over the last 18 months has seen 16 priests, former priests and other men in the Roman Catholic community charged or convicted with sexual offences against boys.

“His boys could take money out of the church collection so they wouldn’t tell their parents about the sexual abuses,” said Agriesti.

He said Hickey wanted to spend thousands of dollars on renovations to the local church and priests’ residence, even though the parish could not afford it.

Agriesti, former comptroller for Memorial University, said he resigned from church finance committees in protest and told the archbishop about his objections, but apparently no action was taken.

The slim, bespectacled and quiet-spoken financial expert said he found three sex books among Hickey’s personal belongings as he was removing them from the priests’ residence after the arrest.

The books were The Joy of Sex; More Joy of Sex; and Show Me.

Agriesti said Hickey told him the books were ordered for sex education in local schools by Rev. Kevin Molloy.

Agriesti was critical of the five-member commission of inquiry set up by Archbishop Alphonsus Penney two months ago to investigate the priests’ scandal.

“The commission is another move to placate the lazy and put the issue of sexual abuse by clergy to rest without cleaning house,” he charged.

Tuesday’s hearing was the last in a series of three public meetings in parishes where two convicted priests — Hickey and Rev. John Corrigan, 57 — abused boys for many years. Corrigan also is serving a five-year term for molesting seven boys over a decade.

Commission chairman


Abuse blamed in suicide bids by altar boy

The Globe and Mail(Toronto) 

14 June 1989



The mother of an altar boy who was abused by a Roman Catholic priest told a church commission last night how her son had tried to kill himself after enduring years of suffering at the hands of Rev. James Hickey .

”He abused my son for four years,” said the woman, choking back tears. ”My son left home, he couldn’t live there any more, he tried to commit suicide twice. If anything happens to him, the Roman Catholic Church hasn’t enough money because I’ll bring the biggest lawsuit you ever saw.”

The woman said that after Father Hickey was charged in January, 1988, he returned to the Ferryland parish, the last one in which he served. She said he threatened boys who might testify against him and told parishioners that the boys were lying.

”I asked the Archbishop to keep him out of the parish, they said nothing could be done,” the woman said bitterly. ”Now, in 18 months he can come out of prison and be a priest again.”

Father Hickey, 55, is serving a five-year prison term after being convicted of sexually abusing 20 young boys.

A former official in the Ferryland parish, Bernard Agriesti, told the commission that he complained several times to Archbishop Alphonsus Penney about Father Hickey’s use of church money.

Mr. Agriesti said he ended up resigning over the matter.

”Hickey had free access to large amounts of cash without accountability. . . .,” Mr. Agriesti said, adding: ”His boys were told they could take money out of the church collection so they wouldn’t tell their parents about the sexual abuses.” He said Father Hickey wanted to spend thousands of dollars on renovations to the church and priest’s residence although the parish could not afford it.

Mr. Agriesti said that on one occasion when he and another man were moving filing cabinets from Father Hickey’s office, they found three sex books.

Mr. Agriesti also attacked Archbishop Penney for saying that Father Hickey would always be a priest.

“The Archbishop said ‘once a priest, always a priest, but let a priest marry and he’s gone,’ ” Mr. Agriesti said. “But to be a sex pervert, that is okay.”

The commission, in its third public hearing, also heard the story of how Shane Earl, a former resident of the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s, was brutally beaten and sexually molested at the orphanage in the mid-1970s.

Mr. Earl said members of the Christian Brothers lay order would tuck the boys in at night, then pull down the boys’ pajamas and fondle them.

He also said on one occasion a brother had beaten him with a belt buckle for failing to place library cards properly in books.

On another occasion, he told the five-member panel, he was beaten with a belt and hockey stick so badly that he cried at night. Then, all 30 boys in the dormitory were ordered to beat him again, to silence him.

”I went through the most humiliation, the most pain, the most suffering . . . nobody can begin to understand or describe it,” said Mr. Earl, who spent 16 years in the orphanage.

“The first day I was there I saw things that made my skin crawl. I saw a brother kick an 8-year-old in the stomach and nobody did anything,” he said.

”We (victims of abuse) have been ignored too long. Abuse in this province has to stop.”

The church panel, led by former Newfoundland lieutenant-governor Gordon Winter, is investigating the sexual abuse of altar boys by priests, and how the offences went on so long without being detected.

To date, 16 priests, members of the Christian Brothers organization and former Christian Brothers have been charged with sexual offences against boys.


Archbishop ignored abuse of boys, parents tell probe

Toronto Star

12 June 1989 

PORTUGAL COVE, Nfld. (CP) – Angry parents allege the archbishop of St. John’s, Nfld., turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of boys by his priests and they say he should resign.

Archbishop Alphonsus Penney was the target yesterday of many of the 75 people who jammed a tiny parish hall to address a Roman Catholic inquiry into the Newfoundland priest scandal.

“As far as I know (Penney) knew about what was going on – there are too many priests charged,” said a stocky women in her mid-40s.

“I think he should step down and let someone else do the job because he’s not doing the job good enough.”

Another man, whose son was sexually abused by a priest, added: “I think the hierarchy of the church fell down on their duty as leaders.

“If Archbishop Penney can’t stand up to his duty, he shouldn’t be there.”

The people of this fishing village, just west of St. John’s, told the inquiry of the hurt and frustration they’ve felt since learning that Rev. James Hickey sexually abused many of their children. The charismatic priest spent about six years in this tiny fishing village before being transferred to another parish in nearby Ferryland in 1986.

Last fall, Hickey, 55, was convicted of 20 sexual offences against boys under 18 years and sentenced to five years in prison.

The inquiry began public hearings yesterday in three area parishes where two priests sexually abused boys for years.

The priests – Hickey and Rev. John Corrigan, 57 – are now serving five-year jail terms.

The five-member commission was established by Penney two months ago to study how sexual abuse by his priests went undetected.

In the past 18 months 14 priests, former priests, members of a lay celibate order called the Christian Brothers and others in Newfoundland’s Catholic community have been charged with or convicted of sex offences against boys.

Parents told the inquiry yesterday how Hickey was a popular, powerful figure who used his influence to betray them.

“Little did I think that this man was out doing what he was doing and little did I think my son would be the next victim,” said a gray- haired man, his voice breaking.


Catholic inquiry into scandal in Newfoundland limits media

The Montreal Gazette 

10 June 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – A Roman Catholic inquiry into the Newfoundland priest scandal yesterday gave more ammunition to critics by restricting media coverage of its public hearings.

Vernon French, chief counsel for the probe, told reporters that tape recorders and television cameras must be turned off when people address three hearings in the St. John’s area starting tomorrow.

The five-member inquiry will hold meetings in parishes where two Catholic priests sexually abused young boys for 20 years. Both priests – Rev. James Hickey and Rev. John Corrigan – are now serving five-year prison terms.

The inquiry will also meet privately with individuals upon request.

French said the restrictions are not an attempt to control what gets reported. He said the commission fears people won’t come forward if cameras and tape recorders are rolling.

Ed Coady, a CBC official, said the people at each meeting should decide if they want restrictions.

French said the suggestion will be considered and a decision made before tomorrow’s meeting.

Established two months ago by Archbishop Alphonsus Penney, the probe will try to determine how priests in the St. John’s area abused boys for years without being detected.

It is one of three inquiries into the scandal.

Some critics believe the inquiry is too closely associated with the church’s hierarchy, whose possible involvement in the scandal may have to be looked into.


Priest’s friend had sex with altar boys, court told

The Montreal  Gazette

29 April 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Robert Martin sexually assaulted altar boys during overnight stays in three local homes he owned jointly with his close friend, Rev. James Hickey, some of the former altar boys testified this week.

Martin, 38, is on trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court for four sex-related charges involving teenage boys. Hickey, a Roman Catholic priest, was convicted last September on 20 counts of sexual assault involving young boys. He is serving a five-year prison sentence.

Three of the complainants against Martin were also complainants at the Hickey trial.

One of the complainants testified Thursday he was sleeping on the sofa of a trailer home owned by the two men when Martin assaulted him.

The complainant, whose name cannot be published by court order, said Martin jumped on his back early one morning as he lay awake. He said both were wearing only their undershorts.

Hickey and three or four other altar boys were in other rooms, the witness said.

The evidence of two other complainants was given in camera.

Martin denied the charges in testimony yesterday, claiming it was the altar boys who molested him.

Another Roman Catholic priest was charged yesterday with sexual offences involving a boy.

Rev. Gordon Walsh, 41, was charged in St. John’s provincial court with one count of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency. He was released without bail and is to appear in court Aug. 28.

The case brings to 14 the number of priests, former priests, and religious brothers who have been charged with or convicted of sex offences against young boys.


New trial ordered on sexual assault charges

The Ottawa Citizen

15 March 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) _ A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the sexual assault trial of a St. John’s man arrested following a police investigation into a Roman Catholic priest.

Robert Martin, 38, faces two counts of sexual assault and two of allowing a person under 18 in his house for the purpose of sexual activity.

The charges stem from the same investigation that resulted in 20 counts of sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault against Rev. James Hickey. The priest was convicted last year and is serving a five-year prison term.

Hickey was scheduled to take the stand Tuesday as a key Crown witness at Martin’s trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court.

But before testimony could get under way, Martin’s lawyer, John Kelly, declared a conflict of interest because he also represented Hickey. Kelly said he could not raise the point before Martin’s trial began last week because he did not know Hickey would be testifying.

Madame Justice Margaret Cameron has scheduled a new trial to start April 19. Martin was released on his own recognizance and has been told to find another lawyer.


Priest gets 5 years for sexual assaults on boys

Montreal Gazette

01 October 1988

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Rev. James Hickey, a Roman Catholic priest, was sentenced yesterday to five years in jail for sexual assaults on boys, dating back to 1970.

“Your conduct appears to be without tenderness or affection . . . the boys were exploited in their naivety simply for the gratification of your basal sexual urges,” said provincial court Judge Reg Reid.

Policemen checked spectators for weapons at the door of the 50-seat courtroom.

Hickey who changed his plea to guilty two weeks ago, broke his silence prior to sentencing, saying, “I realize the pain and sorrow I have caused people . . . my remorse will stay with me the rest of my life.”

The sentence upset a mother of one victim. “He should have got at least 10 years,” she said. “This is a joke.”

Hickey was a pillar of the community, heavily involved in the education of the young. When the Pope visited St. John’s in 1984, Hickey provided the official welcome.

The charges, in January, shocked the province and especially the Avalon Peninsula – the most Catholic area of Newfoundland.

In recent weeks victims and their parents have stirred further controversy in a series of interviews: “I can remember as plain as day, I was 12 years old and had just woke up and he (Hickey) was doing it to me,” one victim said on radio.

“People like Jim Hickey are a menace to society,” said one victim’s mother. “We know plenty of boys who will carry this to the grave.”

26 Responses to Hickey: Father James Hickey

  1. Brenda Brunelle says:

    Sylvia, as soon as I seen this man’s picture I remembered him immediately. He certainly was a regular visitor at St. Vincent de Paul in Windsor.

  2. Sylvia says:

    This is where a picture is truly worth a thousand words 🙂

  3. R.Price says:

    I distinctly remember when James Hickey reported onboard HMCS Swansea as a Navy Lt.
    Hickey knew nothing of the navy traditions or customs or how to wear his uniform correctly… but was a two stripe navy Lt????
    Turns out Hickey was sent to the navy, with the navy’s approval of course, to get him out of Newfoundland, sent by the holier than thou, ‘Bible punching’ RC ArchBishop of Newfoundland. Years later, I ran into the Dean of Social Work of McGill who related the long pedophile history of Hickey. Hickey died in Kingston penitentiary.

    • M says:

      Well it was a better relocation than most. He wasn’t sent to another parish where he’d constantly be trusted and be around kids. I think it’s normal for clerics of any faith who are chaplains in the forces to go in at a high rank. Their education, plus respect for their vocation being taken into concern.

      • R.Price says:

        a Lt. in the navy is NOT a high rank…. and anyway, it normally takes some time and training to achieve this rank regardless of how low on the totem pole it is.

        • Sylvia says:

          I have been told that there is a good chance he part of the Armed Forces Summer Pastoral Internship program. Seminarians often took part in such programs int he summer months. That would fit with what we know.

  4. Sylvia says:

    When was he with the navy R. Price? I don’t believe I ever heard about him joining the navy? I’m assuming he was there as a chaplain? but, perhaps I’m wrong?

  5. R.Price says:

    Hickey was a Navy Reserve Lt. in the 60’s…as a chaplain. went to sea in HMCS Swansea…. but didn’t know any customs or traditions…

  6. Sylvia says:

    James Hickey was ordained in 1970, so his stint with the navy preceded his ordination.

    I see that I did have mention of time with the navy:

    Hickey 1963: joined the Canadian Naval reserve with rank of Lieutenant

    He was in seminary around this time, presumably ‘after consulting doctor who said he needed a rest.’ He did not return to the seminary until 1967, after his mother’s death. In those intervening years, ’63-’57, he was back with the CBC, but, yes, was also with the Navy Reserve?

    But, I don’t see now how he could have been a chaplain? He was not ordained?
    Or, did he carry on with reserves after ordination in 1970?

  7. R.Price says:

    well, regardless of whether Hickey was ordained or not …Hickey wore a chaplain’s uniform when onboard “Swansea” …. no other naval rank insignia but crosses on his shirt collar and Lt’s shoulder boards. I distinctly remember the man as he stood out for his lack of priestly conduct and abysmal lack of naval traditions.

  8. John says:

    To bad the wolves didn’t eat hickey when he was in the clink, that’s another project from satan himself . Pffffffff

  9. R.Price says:

    Better relocation than most????? how about defrocking and jailing? for molestation and abuse? That never enter your head Sylvia?

  10. Sylvia says:

    I’m all for defrocking and jailing R. Price. I have never said it was a better relocation than most, and the person who did say that I am sure said so tongue in cheek.

  11. J Murphy says:

    What are you fasinated with the abuse of boys and Father James Hicky..

  12. T Lacey says:

    Anyone know why it was reported at the time that he hung himself with a pair of Shoe Laces, via VOCM. When he was arrested?

  13. bill says:

    He was a piece of shit like the rest of them fagots!

    • PJ says:

      bill, I agree that he was a POS, but to use the word “fagots” is uncalled for. A pervert like him is not necessarily a homosexual…a pedophile yes. It took me years to realize the difference. Pervert collars and those that defend them are the true pieces of shit.

  14. Sylvia says:

    Yes, PJ, the use of the word is inappropriate, but I know you understand that it is spoken by bill out of sheer frustration and anger, and with the mind, understanding and language of the little boy who was molested by the Roman Catholic priest in those days.

    Homosexual molests. Heterosexuals molest. But, homosexual or not, there is no need for word. We understand bill.

  15. Ann says:

    I worked in corrections some years ago and worked with sex offenders. I met Father Hickey and many of the other priests at one of the prisons where they were held. He actually had the nerve to say to me (in reference to the boys they molested) that “we were only showing them love.” I was rendered speechless….I doubt he ever took responsibility for it. He was in such denial of the fact that his actions were harmful or wrong.

    • Jean-Louis says:


      I’m not sure in what capacity you work for corrections. I’m sure you signed a confidentiality agreement, and therefore, should NOT be repeating what inmates told you here on a blog.

      I worked as an RN in corrections, and would not repeat anecdotes or statements made, or name specific inmates, either online or anywhere.

      They may be convicted criminals, but they still have that right. Careful what you repeat here.

      (a victim of a convicted priest / sex offender who is now serving time in federal penitentiary)

    • Jean-Louis says:

      PS – confidentiality agreement does not end after the inmate’s death…


  16. PJJ says:

    Ann, I could never do what you do…and to hear those predators minimize their molestation behaviour as “showing them love”, makes me wish that my 14 year old self could have showed sullivan a little “love” with a Smith and Wesson. Yeah harsh but it was how I felt for many years.

  17. MP says:

    Yikes! I’m very sorry to find such an unfortunate coincidence. I was looking for a possible portrait or photograph of Fr. John Hickey, but a very different one, who lived between 1789 and 1869 in Maryland, USA.

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