Denis Beland: Victim Impact Statement

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Victim Impact Statement by Denis Beland

WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL you were 47 years old and I was but 12 years old when you commenced stealing from me. You were the venerated teacher-priest and vice-principal and I was but a vulnerable fatherless boy from a poor family. That which you stole from me would create permanent, irreversible damage to my psyche.

Until I met you, I was a model student with no behavioural problems whatsoever. I had already skipped Grade 3 completely and graduated with the highest Grade 8 average with only 1.2 points separating this very bright group of 12. The elementary school had me I.Q. tested and it was the highest score they had ever seen. I had won every major contest or academic award.

I was an altar boy for many years. I knew a great many priests from having served masses, baptisms, first communions, confirmations and funerals. I had a good and normal relationship with priests. Not one of them ever did anything untoward me. Just you, WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL.

As a youth, I was the most industrious in my peer group. I had a newspaper route, picked and sold blueberries and cranberries, had a profitable Christmas card business and sold hockey pools for the Catholic Women’s League. I also sold St. Christopher medallions for the Catholic school fundraisers. I played competitive travelling hockey. I was a “sixer” in our local Boy Scout Pack. I had a great many friends.

All of these going concerns would suddenly stop as if a high speed vehicle hit a rock cut dead on.  All along I had been telling schoolmates and classmates what you had been doing to me. When I told another teacher-priest what you were doing to me, in a matter of days my life as I knew it would have a downward spiral, completely out of control.

You deflected the pedophilic accusations by painting me a troublesome student that was mentally unstable. Your PEERS expelled me from the school because I had caused so much trouble by telling other students and other parents what you were doing to me. My own Mother would eventually believe your story:

First-My mother tried to place me in a juvenile detention center, but I had committed no crime;

Second –She tried to place me in a mental health facility, but the psychiatrist said there was nothing wrong with me;

Third-We went to our family doctor to get a prescription for tranquilizers. The doctor refused to prescribe these as he felt that there was nothing wrong with me but did suggest that my mother should go to the police.

In the end, just weeks later, I had to leave all those industrious works that I was doing.  I had to leave my brothers and sisters, my mother, my friends, my hockey team, my scouting troop, my HOME to go live in a new city hundreds of miles away to finish my grade 10.  This decision caused a great and permanent rift in our family unit, much of which still exists today. I returned to Sudbury several years later and finished Grade 13 at another high school. WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL, my reporting your crimes, caused me to be sent to the gulag.

That essential life-maintaining ingredient that you stole from me WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL would cause sudden catastrophic physical illnesses, I had several anorexias by the time I was only 35 years old where I lost 35-40% of my body mass in less than 90 days. I’ve had pneumonias and pleural effusions only seen in elderly men on the African continent. I’ve never been to Africa. As a result of these freakish illnesses I’ve developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary illnesses and a host of stress related diseases. I have no less than 25 treating physicians-most of them specialists-in the last 25 years trying to come up with a chemical cornucopia of prescription medicines to replace that essential ingredient which you WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL stole from me. So far these brilliant women and men have had little success.

I entered counselling voluntarily with a psychiatrist in 1986 until present. My visits are monthly or quarterly. For approximately one third of this time I paid for this counselling privately. I have also attended many programs over the years, from personal counselling, marriage counselling to anger management. I have had long periods of sobriety from drugs and alcohol, but from time to time abused both. I have a fairly extensive criminal record and but for two charges, ALL of the others are directly attributed to intervening between a terrorizing bully and a child.

These interventions are almost subconscious and emotionless-the grip of fear, that someone might harm this child. The health care providers almost unanimously attribute this reaction to the child sexual abuse received from WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL. My own family members began to be afraid of me on the occasion of witnessing an intervention. I have sought out different opinions from psychiatrists in London, two different firms in Toronto. However, they concur with their colleagues in Sudbury. I have paid out of my own pocket, visits with several clinical psychologists and they too found nothing new.

It would take my mother eleven years to realize that what I had told her about you was true. But this arose from other information she had received. Our relationship would be tenuous until her death.

After all of these years, there has only been this one situation in my life needing to be resolved. The only blemish on my integrity, the only scar on my dignity and it has eaten away at my mind, as if some sort of cancer. This is what you stole from me WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL.

I have not worked as a professional financial planner since 1989, at which time I was recognized as one of the very best in Canada. I had an annual income in excess of $500,000. I am advised that I will never work again. I have a modest pension of $50,000. and absolutely no benefits — dental-prescription glasses-out of country travel-prescription drugs-prosthetics — all must be paid out of pocket. And my private pension terminates at age 65. The total income loss to date is approximately 11 million dollars. The loss to age 65 is approximately 17.5 million dollars.

WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL, what you stole from me was the delicate balance of a person’s psyche to function effectively. With that balance intact I was destined to achieve great things, the track was already set to run on. In it’s absence, I had difficulty leading a normal life. First friends, then immediate family drifted away and became distant. Professional colleagues would follow. I will need to be in psychotherapy until the day I die.

WILLIAM HODGSON MARSHALL, society will be a much safer place if you are barred from any contact with children schools, churches, playgrounds and sports facilities.

33 Responses to Denis Beland: Victim Impact Statement

  1. Rick Albert says:

    Thank you for your victim impact statement, perhaps it can help relieve the suffering of others too. I’m struck by your courage Mr. Bleland.

  2. Anne C says:

    You are very courageous indeed, Mr. Bleland. May your story help heal others.

    To me, it is also very powerful and telling that you would have, even as a child, have spoken honestly to your friends and classmates about the abuse from the very start. From your story, I understand that you were a gifted child, a talent, someone to be reckoned with. This monster abused you. What strikes me…is that your early instinct to speak up – was all just so… well adjusted. And…admirable. I see that continuing- in you brave willingness to speak up now.

    ALL of society let you down. I think, therefore, that all of society must contribute to your healing.

    May we respond to your call. My deepest respect to you.

  3. Deborah Kloos says:

    God bless you Denis Beland and bring you healing. You are very courageous.

  4. Larry Green says:

    Denis has had his day and his say in court and I believe it was a long time coming. But now , for Denis sake , stop feeling sorry for Denis! Denis must first work at healing Denis before he can even begin to think of ‘ healing others!’ It’s a tough reality to swallow but now finally Denis must throw away his crutch and move forward and he can and he knows he can but only if people stop feeling sorry for Denis. He has felt sorry for Denis long enough now and please folks focus NOT on what Denis can do to heal others but what Denis can do to heal Denis! Please.

    • 1 abandoned sheep says:

      Denis, do not listen to Larry. The next person he will help will be the first one he has helped here !
      God is your Healer, and He will Heal you ! God Bless !

    • Sylvia says:

      Larry, Denis’ statement was directed at his molester, Father William Hodgson Marshall. It was directed to Marshall after Marshall admitted his guilt in a court of law. That was the one and only opportunity Denis and 16 others had to address Hod Marshall, their molester, in person. Denis’ statement, like that of the others, was directed to Marshall. That was the summation of what you so callously refer to as Denis’ “day and his say” in court – the ability to read a Victim Impact Statement! It may surprise you to know that there are even rules and regulations governing what a victim can and can not say in their Victim Impact Statement, so in truth their ‘day in court’ it is not freedom to say what they wish, but only to say what is permitted.

      It is nearly a year since I sat in that courtroom and listened and watched as Denis and the others took the stand, one after the other after the other, to tell Hod face to face what became of the child he – a Roman Catholic priest, teacher and coach – had sexually violated. I wished that others could have heard what I heard.

      That is why I asked those men if they would be willing to share their Victim Impact Statements so that others could hear what I heard that day and so that all could learn from it.

      It has taken Denis nearly a year to send me his statement. That was a huge step for him, as it is for any victim. It was not I assure you his intent to seek sympathy from anyone, let alone from you. Denis’ statement was directed solely toward his molester, Father William Hodgson Marshall.

      Your cruel comments Larry remind me of the invectives I hear from the mouths of defence lawyers or the likes of a William Donohue. Just plain cruel – totally lacking in either understanding or compassion.

      My apologies Denis. My sincere apologies.

      • Larry Green says:

        Sylvia, you are not a drug adict, you are not an alcaholic , you have never been raped when you were a child , you have no idea what you are talking about when you tell me I am cruel when I tell Denis he has stop bullshitting himself. Thats between me and Denis!

        • Larry Green says:

          I am saddened Sylvia, by the fact that you would construe my motives as cruel and not as genuinely heartfelt in light of what I have disclosed to you about my history.You have no idea how hurtful your comment to me has been. I don’t understand it at all.

          • 1 abandoned sheep says:

            And now, after he has trashed someone else, he wants sympathy? This is a person who has tried to be superior over almost everyone who has posted here in the last 2 years.
            I will withhold my sympathy for a more genuine person.

        • Sylvia says:

          No Larry, it’s not between you and Denis. Denis did not blog. He made no comment. He agreed to allow me to post his Victim Impact Statement – I posted it. The statement was the words he spoke directly to his molester when he was face to face with him in court. The words were for Father William Hodgson Marshall to tell Hod Marshall the impact the abuse he doled out had on Denis’ life. That was not looking for sympathy, or feeling sorry for Denis – it was laying out the facts. That’s what a Victim Impact Statement is supposed to do.

          Put yourself in Denis shoes. How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot Larry?

          If this is the reaction victims can anticipate from other victims then I truly will have to re-assess whether or not I allow victims to be subjected to such comments by asking them to let their statements be published.

          I personally think that would be a shame. I have talked to many victims who have drawn comfort and strength from the statements which are currently on the site, and I have talked to many family members of victims who feel that through such statements they finally understand their brother, sister, son or daughter or spouse.

          Perhaps you misspoke Larry, or blogged in haste? Whatever the case, I cringed when I read your comments, all the more so because they came from you.

          Since it is my doing that Denis’ statement is there in the first place I felt a responsibility and a duty to step in.

          In response to you comment below, I don’ know what you motives were Larry, but I felt that your comments were cruel. You say don’t understand why I said what I felt I had to say, and I don’t understand why you said what you said about Denis.

          You say that you are hurt by my comment to you. Do you not think for a moment that your comments about Denis would hurt him? and/or his family?

          This makes no sense Larry, and I don’t understand it either.

          • Anne C says:


            I wasn’t going to say anything out of respect for Denis, but certain people here consistently display temper tantrums – always directed at other posters – never addressing the actual matter at hand. It does nothing for this site, or for the work you are trying to do here.

            I am quite simply disgusted with the posts from Larry – who started this whole negative thread. Especially given the courage it must have taken Denis to post in the first place. (Yes, I think that needs to be re-thought, out of respect for the victims).

            I was also very uncomfortable with Larry’s attack on you, Sylvia, and on the references to rape. That amounts to a violent inference against women, and I will not stick around to read further.

            It is very obvious to me, and others, that Larry is constantly trying to derail discussion, and our support for the victims, in order to gain attention for himself.

            Please moderate! Thank you.

          • Anne C says:


            Just to clarify, in my last post, when I say:

            “Yes, I think that needs to be re-thought, out of respect for the victims.”

            I mean: inviting victim impact statements to be posted here. Not without some safety guidelines, that is.

          • Larry Green says:

            Contrary to what you imply Sylvia, nowhere have I expressed any negative comment on the fact that Denis made this victim impact statement. In fact I said it was a long time coming ( I believe it is a good thing that he had the opportunity to do so.) You said “The words were for Father William Hodgson Marshall to tell Hod Marshall the impact the abuse he doled out had on Denis’ life. That was not looking for sympathy, or feeling sorry for Denis – it was laying out the facts. That’s what a Victim Impact Statement is supposed to do.” I agree totally but that is where it should stay, right there in that courtroom and right on the lap of Marshall. It was indeed a long time coming but now it is done.
            I do not see for the life of me how any victim or anyone could possibly draw comfort or strength from what he has said in his statement. That is NOT what victim impact statements are meant to do.
            There aren’t many things more resilient than the human spirit as has been proven all throughout history by so many who have experienced terrible tragedy in their lives, from victims of crime to survivors of the holocaust. Victor Frankl (holocaust survivor) is one such shinning example. The greatest enemy for anyone who has been victimized becomes a wallowing in self pity, bogged down in it, and the second greatest enemy are those enablers who nurture it.
            Marshal is to blame for what Marshal did to Denis. Denis is to blame for the things that Denis does. If according to some principle Denis is not to blame for his own actions then by the same principle neither is Marshal which is why it is b.s.. If Denis goes on to continue blaming Marshal for the choices that Denis makes, then he will continue to deteriorate in every way. The one thing that Marshal or anybody else cannot do is harm the soul of another human being. Socrates said “ no one can harm a single hair on the soul of human being.“ No one can take away our free will no matter what they do. A guard once said to Nelson Mandela when he was in prison, “ don’t you know that I can have you killed ?“ to which Mandela replied “ don’t you know that I can go to my death freely and willingly?”
            No Sylvia I haven’t misspoken or blogged in haste. I was and I remain well aware that what I have to say is not popular here but contrary to many opinions expressed here that I blog in order to be popular in some way , I believe what I say and I believe it is the real support that Denis needs and those are the only reasons I say what I say.
            Exposing the evil within the church and demanding justice is an entirely different matter than supporting on a road to recovery those who have been injured and it’s wrong to use the later to build a ‘stronger case’ for the former.
            Denis’ victim impact statement has served it’s purpose that day in court, I would put it to rest now , it helps nobody and least of all Denis now.

  5. Paul Duggan says:

    Dennis, though I don’t know you, I feel deeply for you and hope, very sincerely, that your psychotheraphy and the support of others will help you find some peace and the ability to deal with what you so aptly describe in terms of cancer of the mind. You have described the horrific effects of Marshall’s self-pleasure-seeking with great eloquence.

    In the past, such heart wrenching testimonials have often led me to scratch my head in bewilderment as to how it is possible in the Canadian judicial system that complicit priests, bishops, cardinals, religious order superiors , etc. are able to avoid prosecution themselves. Their only punishment to my knowledge is one of a self-imposed resignation which in any justice system involves no accountability at all. It seems that there is a serious leak in the Canadian judicial dike that requires long overdue attention if the scourge of cover-up is ever to be eradicated and those who enabled child sexual abuse by clergy are themselves made accountable through prosecution. How come a person can be prosecuted for complicity in a murder, armed robbery, fraud ,etc. but not child sexual abuse by clergy?

  6. Larry Green says:

    The whole point is . Holding people like Denis down may be great for ‘ the cause’ whatever ‘the cause ‘ may be ,but it sucks for Denis and all the others just like him.;

    • 1 abandoned sheep says:

      Larry, who is holding Denis, or as you say, people like him down ?
      Just because you are having another downer, does not mean they are.
      If you are going to pursue this kind of critique, why do YOU not come out of the closet ?

      • Sylvia says:

        That last statement was totally uncalled for 1 abandoned sheep. There is no need to hurl insults like this – absolutely nothing is gained and no one – Larry included – is the better for it.

        • 1 abandoned sheep says:

          Sylvia, I will bow out from the site. Since people have taken MANY blows from the person mentioned in your admonition of me, and have not been^protected like this same person has been, shows me I do not fit into required qualifications.
          Fair thee well !

    • Suzanne Herrick-Lee says:

      Thank you Denis; and ALL victims who have posted their impact statements here on Sylvia’s Site; you are to be commended for bringing a knowledge and awareness to all of society of what happened to you…. There are many people who read this site but never post on this site to gain a knowledge and understanding of the abuses within the Church; these statements give the stark reality; there are so many naive Catholics; who don’t know and understand the gravity of the abuses that have occured; hence the need for pubishing these sad statements…Larry; was there something about Denis’ statement that “rattled your cage” and thus sent you into a deflection mode? I believe you to be inherently a very good person; I ask you to please look within; reflect; not attack; and come to terms with that which upset you…

  7. Bandoson says:

    I am a 1967 Graduate of St.Charles College, Sudbury, Ontario.
    I was a student of Hod Marshall’s, I was never abused by Hod Marshall…there were many there that were..
    It is because of the courage of men like you Dennis that more than sixteen men have come forward to press for justice…it is because of your courage that Hod Marshall is in jail!
    We are the result of the actions and inactions of others, we.. by are actions and inactions will impact the lives of others…There are many more out there who’s lives were impacted so awfully by Hod Marshall’s actions..Your statement sets so precisely what the horrors of others can do for so many.There are many of those men who can’t come forward..I know of some..your statement and those of the others on this site will aid them in their journey through life..Thank you for sharing
    God Bless and Keep You Denis..

  8. Lina says:

    Mr. Denis Beland,

    I read your brave victim impact statement.

    You are a true survivor Denis.


  9. Michel Bertrand says:

    I wonder what Mr. Beland would have to say about this…good that he had the courage to make himself heard…good that he showed every potential survivor out there that it is right and good to stand and be heard. I wish I could be more optimistic however the church is a big big box and they will struggle with this forever hopefully their struggle does not hurt people more than they have already. But ..keep holding their feet to the fire everyone. Blessings.

  10. Michel Bertrand says:

    Not without some safety guidelines, I agree with Anne. These statements and discussions should be held with the highest respect and out of that same act of respect…. commentary should take into account how a person expresses a feeling and in what format those feelings are translated into language is very different from person to person. An acknowledgement that to disclose such profoundly deep information about oneself in relation to their experience of the crime in a public arena is enough to give any person a feeling that could overwhelm. Just to keep this in mind when discussing impact statements would be good I think. It is a very emotive subject and many of us have fallen short of holding our tongues and have caused other posters to feel hurt, my apologies. What I have been trying to do lately is to review my notes ….and to ask myself did I try to understand what was being said and have I been respectful of the person despite my criticism of their input. Tough gig I know !!!!

    • Sylvia says:

      Michel and Anne, I have taken note of your comments and input. Many thanks. My hope here is that this does not deter others from agreeing to share their Victim Impact Statements. I believe it is important for people to read them, and that, among other things, it is important for them to understand that the damage done to each child who is sexually violated by a priest ripples throughout their lives and the lives of their families, and it is important for them to understand that no child should ever ever be wilfully put at risk of enduring such a fate.

  11. Sylvia says:

    Larry, I will pick up the thread here.

    You don’t see how any victim could draw comfort or strength from the statement, but I can tell there is many a victim of clerical sexual abuse out there who has told me in person how much the Victim Impact Statements on the site have meant to them. I won’t try to speak for them, but that is a fact. The same holds true for families and friends of victims.

    I will say too that, when it comes to clerical sexual abuse, just as I thank God that what has been happening in the dioceses around the world has not stayed in the dioceses around the world, and that victims who have been silent for years have found their voice, so too am I thankful that what has been happening in courtrooms here in Canada has not stayed in those courtrooms.

    As for quotes, I will go with Our Lord’s – the one about the millstone for those who scandalize the little ones. Why I wonder did He see this as such a horrific sin, the only which He singles out as warranting a millstone ’round the neck and the offender being drowned in the depths of the sea?

    That aside, you say “The greatest enemy for anyone who has been victimized becomes a wallowing in self pity, bogged down in it.”

    There you go Larry. Where do you find Denis wallowing in self pity? You will not find a single comment posted on this site in which Denis is wallowing in self pity. Nowhere. You know nothing about him, and you know nothing of how he lives and conducts his life. If I am mistaken and your comment is not, as it seems, directed at Denis then I suggest you clearly explain that that is not your intent.

    You also say, “the second greatest enemy are those enablers who nurture it.” I think that may be directed at me? If that’s the case, fire on Larry.

    One final comment Larry. There have been Victims Impact Statements posted on this site for over a year. You never once objected in the past. Why this radical change of heart?

    • Larry Green says:

      There is no change of heart period. What I say is based on principle. Take a second look at the reaction on this thread toward someone who chooses to speak the truth even when it is extremely un-popular to do so and then tell me that you really don’t understand how anyone would be reluctant to speak the same here at anytime. I am the first to admit that I have held my tongue on this matter in the past but this was the last straw. There is absolutely no question that you do so much good work with site and beyond but very clearly you are wrong about this and you are not about to explore that possibility from any rational perspective any time soon. I have said what I did for Denis and there are just to many victims exposed to this site to let it go this time. My message is loud and clear to Denis and all victims ; [deleted by Syvia]

  12. JG says:

    Mr. Beland,

    Thank You.

    Although there are some differences there are a lot of similarities with the challenges I and most of my family have had to face because of the effects of clerical abuse. My Father and most of my family have not had the opportunity to speak to ”our”abuser. As I previously expressed to others who have spoken out, your words bring some relief to the continued injustices the victims and their families carry with them the rest of their lives. For me your statement was complete in and by itself.
    I had no need to comment…I was just Thankful for us, for you and all those who may have not felt so alone because of your courage to stand up and share as you did.

    As for the rest….bear with me and my ”stories”…

    We were a family of nine children, not very rich…mostly poor although it was well ”covered up”…I remember the big white table and four chairs my Father bought when they were married…Too many children, not enough chairs and sometimes a rocking chair or a three step stool was pulled up to the table to accommodate two more…My Mother ate standing up and my Father was away, mostly…or he ate by himself with his black tea, a syrup like beverage that sat on the wood stove always…Nobody even considered tasting this…
    The food was …just enough, I think. Sometimes we had milk. …but most of the time sitting at the table whether four or more of us, we would try to get another slice of bread or a little more milk… At times ”war” broke out and before my Mother could react, half a dozen hands had reached for the last slice of bread…and the quart of milk…and we were left with crumbs, milk dripping on the floor…Everytime a little more anger, misunderstanding, resentment…
    …and we had no idea that the enemy was not in our house…the alcohol, the poor self esteem, the silences, the secrets…I was young but I remember and always wanted to know,… why? Not self pity, not for attention…just to understand.
    Our enemy was “Leon Gagnon” and his enabling “clergy” ; men who pretended to be ”closer”to God, who pretended to do His Will…and chipped away at our lives with selfish disregard and mindless abuse!

    With Easter coming, I hope everyone here will remember who the enemy is and who the victims are: the children. The enemy is not “sitting at the table” with us and that is where we should focus our attention.
    I think we need to spend more time thinking of the “other”, whoever he is and hopefully we will eventually understand his or her pain as we want to understand our own.
    I just hope “this ” family chooses to stick together and keep up the “good” fight. ….What should keep us together shouldn’t be a reason to be apart, or to stay away…
    I think now is a good time to reflect on “forgiveness” and swallow some pride for the sake of the “bread on the table”…
    …that we not leave some crumbs no one will feed on.


  13. Mike Mc says:

    I have been reading this quietly. I have little to say except that the victim statements I have read in here are important. It is their chance to make a public comment their feelings and deep hurts/anguish. It also exposes what the clergy/priest did to them.

    It’s all good; and no one, not me or Larry or anyone, should judge or criticise those statements.

    Keep up the good work at this site, Sylvia. It’s a special week even for me. I’ve not lost my faith. But I sure am critical now of those who sheppard it.

    (To JG, your story always touches myheart.)

    • Lina says:

      It is important for those victim impact statements to be read if anyone wants to read them if he or she chooses.

      Sylvia…I also thank you for all the good you do here at this website.

  14. Michel says:

    Denis. I hope you still are viewing this site! I can feel your pain and how it has affected your life. I too at age 59 am still a mess and will be forever no matter how much treatment and medication I take. The Movie and Book I have just read, Spotlight certainly sheds a light at how rampant this abuse was. You can imagine now why the Catholic Church wanted to stop this Movie and Book from being released. We need to never give up on this cause against these Monsters. The Nuns were no better and have never been called up on the carpet for their crimes And as I keep saying all in
    The Name of God.

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