Several pertinent points from the Benoit Brisson/Lise Brisson testimony I have not had opportunity to blog until now. To date I don’t see it in the media coverage and believe it is essential that it gets out. I believe some if not all of these issues will be resurrected at a later date.
Benoit Brisson, of course, is a victim of Father Gilles Deslaurier, dear friend of former Bishop Adolphe Proulx, former chaplain at LaCitadelle High School and former director of the diocesan French youth movement R3.
Lise Brisson is Benoit’s mother.
I will briefly cover two additional facets of Benoit Brisson’s cross-examination: (1) his recollection of a conversation his mother Lise had with the Cornwall Police Service, and (2) the Durocher apology.
Then I will cover facets of Mrs. Brisson’s cross-examination which I believe are extremely important, all related to what I believe were attempts by Andre Ducasse (lawyer for the Diocese) to undermine Mrs. Brisson’s credibility, confuse the public and muddy the waters suffice to exonerate Bishop Larocque and the diocese of any wrong-doing or allegations of cover-up in dealing with Father Gilles Deslaurier, a clerical sexual predator who preyed upon teenage boys.
(1) Recollection of his mother’s conversation with Cornwall Police
Benoit testified that he has clear recollection of being present while his mother called the Cornwall Police Service to report that her son had been sexually abused by Father Gilles Deslaurier. According to Benoit the police said there was insufficient evidence to proceed. This was allegedly before the family decided to go public.
(2) The Durocher apology
Diocesan lawyer Andre Ducasse reminded Benoit that an apology had been extended by Bishop Paul Andre Durocher to the Brisson family. The apology was re-extended to Benoit.
Benoit replied that an apology would have more merit if it came from Bishop Eugene Larocque, the bishop of the day when Benoit and others were molested by Deslaurier: Durocher wasn’t there.
Lise Brisson (Benoit’s mother)
(1) Attempts to discredit the witness to exonerate former Alexandria-Cornwall Bishop Eugene Larocque and the diocese
(a) Deslaurier’s Resignation
The Brisson family have consistently stated that nothing was done by the diocese in response to their allegation that Father Gilles Deslaurier sexually abused Benoit. The have also consistently stated that their primary concern was that Deslaurier be stripped of his priesthood and that he would be kept away form children so there would be no more victims.
Mr. Ducasse attempted to prove that the bishop and diocese had indeed responded and offered as proof the fact that Larocque presumably demanded and received Deslaurier’s resignation.
Mrs. Brisson replied that Deslaurier was still a priest and was saying Mass in the Diocese of Gatineau-Hull within days.
Ducasse then attempted to show that after the family discovered that Deslaurier was functioning as a priest in Quebec steps were taken to stop that activity.
Mrs. Brisson cited proof that Deslaurier continued to function as a priest.
(Unmentioned here as yet is the fact that once Deslaurier’s ‘resignation’ was approved by Larocque he was presumably no longer “incardinated” in that diocese (i.e., he no longer belonged to that diocese and was no longer subject to Bishop Eugene Larocque). IF that’s the case Father Deslaurier had to be “incardinated” (belong) to another diocese somewhere in order to function as a priest and in order to receive authority to administer the Sacraments such as Mass and Confessions. For that to transpire Bishop Eugene Larocque was required to advise the bishop contemplating taking Deslaurier in (presumably Proulx) that Deslaurier was a sexual predator who molested teenage boys.
Since Deslaurier was active in the Proulx diocese it appears that either Bishop Adolphe Proulx knowingly took in and/or incardinated a clerical sexual abuser – and definitely permitted him to continue to ‘use his collar’ to gain the trust of and access to young boys -, or that Bishop Larocque did not relay the information so Proulx was let ignorant of the imminent danger to teenage boys in his diocese.
(b) The taping: Ducasse attempted to disparage Mrs. Brisson by referencing an instance where Mrs. Brisson met with Larocque and unbeknownst to Larocque taped their conversation.
© Contradictions: Ducasse attempted to set Mrs. Brisson up as having perjured herself when she related a conversation she had with an individual identified as Mr. C1.
This situation relates to a conversation Mrs. Brisson had with a priest (Mr. C1) who told her that he too had been sexually abused by Deslaurier. C1, a long-time friend of Mrs. Brisson, confided that he had taken his allegations against Deslaurier to Bishop Larocque about two-and-a-half years earlier and Larocque didn’t believe him and took no action.
Ducasse quoted transcripts from the preliminary hearings and, I believe, the Ad Hoc Committee in which C1 basically testified that he went to see Larocque but did not tell him because he claimed he feared he wouldn’t be believed. According to that version of events, C1 did not tell Larocque about the alleged sexual abuse.
Mr. C1’s testimony obviously contradicts Mrs. Brisson’s. It let Larocque off the hook twenty years ago, and will no doubt do so again unless Mr. – actually Father – C1 has a twinge of conscience for letting this lady be legally harassed and the impression conveyed to one and all that she made up the story and perjured herself! (If this inquiry had a mandate to pursue the truth and look at allegations of cover-up it could probably start right about here!!)
Anyway, throughout Ducasse’s haggling on this point Mrs. Brisson said alternately: “that’s not what he told me. Now it’s my word against his”; “that doesn’t concord with what he told me,” and; “What was said to police and to me are obviously contradictory, but what can I do about that?” at which point she threw her hands up in the air in exasperation.
When Ducasse produced a March 1986 letter from Bishop Larocque assuring the Brissons that if Mr. C1 had ever come to him with sexual abuse allegations against Deslaurier he, Larocque, definitely would have acted Mrs. Brisson simply assured Ducasse: ‘I wasn’t believing the bishop much by then.’ She added that a delegation of young people from Ottawa had also gone to talk to Larocque about Father Deslaurier and that should have been enough for the bishop to start having some doubts about Deslaurier.
Mr./Father C1 was the priest dispatched by Larocque to tell Benoit that the diocese would provide assistance to Benoit and other victims. Mrs. Brisson was upset that the bishop would dispatch someone as “broken and upset as Benoit” to reach other victims.
(d) Ducasse made an issue of the Brisson’s claim that nothing had been done and included in that their allegation that Deslaurier had received no treatment. Ducasse produced documents indicating that Larocque had almost instantly arranged for Deslaurier to see a psychotherapist. The Brisson’s however had wanted Deslaurier out of the priesthood completely and away from children so in truth the treatment issue is a sidebar to their concerns back in the mid 80s and a bit of red herring for the diocese to throw about now.
No matter, Ducasse wanted to hone in on the fact that packing Deslaurier off to a psychotherapist was doing something and implied that it was totally wrong to say nothing was done.
Mrs. Brisson replied that it made no difference because Deslaurier was being shipped all over the place and was still functioning as a priest. And she seriously questioned whether in fact Deslaurier was being treated at all, and speculated that a letter signed off by the psychotherapist was in fact penned by Deslaurier himself because the language used in the letter is the same as that repeatedly used by Deslaurier while conducting his three-hour Thursday evening Ignatian exercises (spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius) which Mrs. Brisson had participated in for three full years!
Mrs. Brisson also recalled hearing that Deslaurier had refused to continue with his psychotherapy, a fact later confirmed.
(e) Ducasse attempted to muddy the waters by implying that the Brisson’s concerns were taken to heart and as soon as they expressed concerns that Deslaurier was motoring around the Diocese of Gatineau Hull action was taken.
However, the reality is that even while Deslaurier was presumably seeing a psychotherapist to deal with his proclivity to sexually abuse young boys, Bishops Larocque and/or Proulx were willing to allow him to continue to function as a priest – without warning or telling a soul that he was a serious threat to the young lads in the Diocese of Gatineau-Hull and elsewhere, not to mention the fact that he was now a mere a hop, skip and jump across the Ottawa river to Ottawa University where several of his victims were now pursuing their post-secondary education, a source of deep concern for the Brisson family!
And the reality is also that Deslaurier was indeed pulled from a parish in the Gatineau-Hull diocese – but only after the Brisson’s discovered he was there and went public!!
Even after that Deslaurier was spotted in yet another parish and on another occasion was spotted leading a busload of no doubt unwitting Catholics on a pilgrimage to Cape de la Madeleine Quebec (site of Our Lady of the Cape shrine).
I will add what I know here, and that is that sometime after Deslaurier served whatever portion of his two year probation he was obliged to serve (reporting to Bishop Adolphe Proulx!) he surfaced in St. Adele, Quebec (St. Jerome Diocese).
While at St. Adele, new sexual abuse allegations arose which were related in some manner to the parish. Deslaurier threatened to sue the victims. The probe was dropped, and Deslaurier was shuttled off to another corner of the diocese, Verecheres.
According to a 23 November 1997 article by Jacki Leroux in the Ottawa Sun (“The Sins of the Fathers”), when Deslaurier was tracked down in Verecheres the Bishop of St. Jerome, Vital Masse, told Leroux that Deslaurier could say Mass and hear confessions “as soon as he wants.”
Would that Deslaurier’s victims were beneficiaries of half the tender love and care and consideration heaped upon their molester by Church officials!
A final note here. I do believe Ducasse gained a major coup on Larocque’ and the diocese’s behalf when Mrs. Brisson concurred that perhaps Deslaurier may have manipulated Larocque. Mrs. Brisson added that Larocque used to say that Deslaurier was like a cat – you throw it in the air and it always manages to land on its feet. Wonder what he meant by that?
And a final final note: wouldn’t it be wonderful if this inquiry was mandated to get to the bottom of allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up? There’s more than enough to work with already!!!
Please note that Dalton McGuinty is going to appoint Julian Fantino to head the Ontario Provincial Police Force. Word of the pending appointment is in the 12 October 2006 news item posted yesterday “Fantino to head police” posted on the Media page – scroll down.
Sheer chance? We’ll see soon enough!
And that’s more than enough for now,