Oh what a tangled web…

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Day 15 of the Ban

It was a difficult and emotional day for Albert Roy and a heartbreak for those watching and listening. 

Albert’s testimony of his abuse at the hands of probation officers Nelson Barque and Ken Seguin and his subsequent interaction with ‘the system’ alternately found him struggling to hold back the tears, rendered speechless as he sought words to articulate his thoughts, in need of break to regain his composure and still, eleven years after one of his molesters pled guilty, trying so desperately to comprehend what can only be described as incomprehensible.

We heard how it all began, how a fifteen year-old boy’s life descended into a living Hell after he had few drinks, stole a car, went off on a joyride down the road to Kinsgton, Ontario, abandoned the car, and hitch-hiked back to Cornwall the next day. 

He turned 16.  He was charged. He pled guilty. He was put on probation. Eighteen months.

That’s when probation officers Ken Seguin and Nelson Barque entered and forever changed the boy’s life.

He was first assigned to Ken Seguin.  Ken had to leave.  Barque took over.  The sexual abuse began.

He was fed alcohol – a violation of his parole.

Seguin returned.  Albert reported the abuse to Seguin (Barque’s superior).  Seguin “allegedly” began to molest him. Barque was out of the picture.

Seguin and Barque befriended his mother. The boy was threatened with jail if he told.  He was told it would kill his mother if she found out.

Both told the boy that the problems he was suffering at school and with his family were because he was a homosexual.

Barque told him if he ever told anyone Barque would be the first to know.  The boy believed him – he saw him with the police officers in the courthouse, arm in arm.

Barque became more demanding. Followed him about.  Monitored his wherabouts.  Called him at a friend’s home.  Demanded he meet.  Drove up beside him once and demanded the boy get in his car.  The boy dared to refuse.  He was slapped.

Even his mother insisted he go see Barque.

Albert struggled to relate in a trembling voice how Ken Seguin once told him that he, Seguin, had access to a church.  Seguin suggested to his young charge they could go there and, according to Albert, Seguin could abuse him in the church.  The very thought of that suggestion obviously haunts Albert to this very day.

That particular sacrilege never transpired.

That was Albert’s probation.

Barque. Seguin.

Month after month after month.

One day the boy decided he couldn’t take it anymore.  There were still some months to serve on his probation. He told Seguin “do what you have to do.” He stopped reporting. He was never charged with breach of probation.

That was 1977.

Psychiatrists. Social workers. Hospitalisations. A failed marriage.

Bob Payette who urged him to report the pair because other young lads might share his fate.

1994.  He met with Constable Heidi Sebalj at the Cornwall Police Service.  After 17 tortured years he was ready.

By then, Ken Seguin had committed suicide (November 1993, shortly after Perry Dunlop turned the D.S. victim statement with sex abuse allegations against “Charlie” and Seguin over to Children’s Aid Society)
 
Dealing with “the system” and those within it was, it seems, another nightmare. Amongst the many difficulties he encountered and the countless unanswered questions which still obviously gnaw at his very being Albert related the following:

(1) Internal probation matters: Heidi Sebalj (Cornwall police)told him that his allegations of Barque “touching” him, providing alcohol in violation of his probation and his conduct in the probation office were internal matters for probation to address.  There would be no charges related to those allegations.

(2) Whittling down the charges: Barque was charged with one – and only one – incident of sexual abuse. Albert argued that was unfair.  There were many.  Heidi allegedly told him she could only charge Barque in accordance with the laws in place in 1977

(3) Intimidation: Heidi arranged a meet for him with an OPP officer from the Lancaster office.  Albert gave a statement. To this day he doesn’t understand what the meeting was about.  Chris McDonnell (SP?), the OPP officer, told Albert he was investigating another allegation for the family of a boy who said he was being abused by Barque.  Albert thinks he said the boy was eight, but he’s just not certain. He recalls MacDonnell said he was a friend of the family, but Albert didn’t know which family he was a friend of  – the boy’s or Barque’s?

He was asked questions about a “Mark.”  Albert had met Mark once. Had he ever seen him at Ken Seguin’s house?  He had not.

“His” statement was written by McDonnell.  Albert signed it.  He says he didn’t really read it.  He didn’t think he had to .  He didn’t think there might be problems with it.  He trusted it would be what he had said.

He has trouble with some of the things he is said to have said in the statement. 

He felt intimidated and belittled by the OPP officer. He described him as brusque and impatient.

He never saw McDonnell again.

(4) Over to the OPP: Heidi discovered that Barque lived just outside the city limits.  That meant he lived within the jurisdiction of the OPP. The OPP was called in and an OPP officer became the lead investigator.  Barque would have to be arrested by an OPP officer.

All his files were turned over to the OPP.  He had to be interviewed by the OPP.

Heidi arranged an interview between Albert and OPP officer Detective Zebruck.

(5) Sympathy for Barque: Detective Zebruck wanted Albert to identify Barque’s home.  He picked up Albert and his new wife.

Zebruk told Albert how he had arrested Barque, and that this would have a hard impact on Barque and his family.  He told Albert he believes Barque will commit suicide.

Albert felt Zebruck was trying to get him to “pull back.”  He couldn’t understand why Zebruck was telling him this. (Albert became quite emotional at this point in his testimony – Barque did in fact commit suicide about two years later)

(6) Fellatio’s no big deal: During the drive to identify Barque’s house Zebruck said to Albert and his wife: “What harm’s a little fellatio going to do”?  Albert doesn’t remember the “official term” for oral sex, but he says that’s the term Zebruck used, the official word for oral sex.

When he got home Albert called the Long Sault OPP detachment and reported Zebruck.  He has no recollection of nay follow up.  He doesn’t recall any further dealings with Zebruck.

(7) Don Johnson, former Crown: Nelson Barque’s defence lawyer was Don Johnson. 

Don Johnson was Crown Attorney in 1982 when Nelson Barque resigned from Probation services on the heels of sexual abuse allegations. Johnson allegedly concluded at the time there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges. But, Barque resigned.

(Don Johnson represented a number of alleged paedophiles at the Project Truth sex abuse trials.  All were acquitted in some form or another. The Crown in several of those trials at which Johnson was defence was Alain Godin.  And Godin, it is alleged, once worked as Assistant Crown to Don Johnson when Johnson was Crown.)

(8) The pre-sentence report: A pre-sentence report ordered by Justice Renaud and utilised at trial indicated that after Barque resigned from Probation services he was hired as a social worker by “the Équipe psycho-sociale” and from 1982 to 1986 worked with parents of children and youth who were exhibiting behavioural problems with the school system.”  

The report, prepared by a probation officer, was apparently described as positive (Johnson was apparently “surprised” to the see the reference, vague as it was, to the 1982 allegations.)

According to this pre-sentence report Barque’s boss, a Mr. Pierre Landry, indicated that there had been no problems with Barque, however Barque resigned because so the many parents familiar with the 1982 allegations didn’t want anything to do with him.

As positive as it might have been considered and in addition to the vague reference to the 1982 allegations it also included the following:

“He [Barque] admits to the manipulation and abuse of power that occurred and states he now, in retrospect, sees the victimization that took place. He is unclear of how he felt at the time and suspects that he probably had not questioned his actions. He states he feels badly for having perturbed an individual. Discussions surrounding explanation for the offence revealed certain attitudes and orientation that may suggest a necessity to determine whether need for treatment or counselling is required.

 “Mr. Barque, however, feels professional intervention is not required.”

This report, which to Albert’s continued dismay and astonishment was considered positive by the court, became a contentions issue at trial, so much so that  Renaud offered to step down. The Crown (Simard) and defence (Johnson) however agreed that Renaud could stay if Albert could take the stand to testify what impact the abuse had had on his life.

And that’s the way it went.

However, a police report (Heidi’s notes) indicates the real reason for Barque’s resignation from “the Équipe psycho-sociale.”  According to that version of events Pierre Landry heard about the 1982 sex abuse allegations from parents, became suspicious, followed Barque to the shopping centre and found him hanging around the washrooms.  Landry confronted Barque with his suspicions and those of parents and told him:  “If I’m wrong fight me.  If I’m right, resign.”

Barque resigned.

(9) ONE incident: When Albert took the stand Don Johnson cross examined him.  The cross-exam in one instance went like this:

MR. JOHNSON: “Mr. Roy, first of all, with respect to  this matter, what we’re talking about is one incident in 1977. Is that
correct?

MR. ROY: That’s correct.

MR. JOHNSON: There’s no other allegations of anything else. It was one incident, one evening in 1977. Is that correct?

MR. ROY: It was one evening of – it wasn’t just one evening. It was..

Johnson cut him off.  Albert had finally become so frustrated with the fact that the allegations had been whittled down to one incident on one night he apparently wanted to try to set the record straight.

No such luck.

(after some discussion on this point and Albert’s obvious frustration that the impression conveyed was that Barque had molested him once, and only once, period, Justice Glaude intervened and asked “So are you trying to tell me that you would have liked to have been able to tell the judge all of the steps that led up to that evening?” 

I am inclined to think that it might have been nice for the victim and justice to have seen charges which would reflect the fact that the boy was molested/assaulted/fondled or whatever in an inappropriate fashion on more than oneoccassion, and that he was plied with alcohol by a probation who was well aware that consumption of alcohol was a violation of his client’s terms of probation.)

(10) Veiled threat: Albert apparently tried to tell Judge Renaud that he believed if Barque hadn’t molested him he would never have been molested by Seguin.  According to Albert, in response “The judge says that you can’t blame somebody for kicking open a door and breaking and entering. You can’t blame him for any of the other people that go in after and steal from the house.”

However it seems that Albert succeeded at least in getting the issue read into the record.  Then, according Albert, Don Johnson stared at Albert in what he felt was a threatening fashion and said:

“Judicial notice can be taken that Mr. Seguin has committed suicide. In the circumstances, he’s not here to defend himself and it’s just an allegation made by the Plaintiff in these circumstances and I’m going to leave it at that.

“I will have to advise Mr. Seguin’s family of what has been said here today in relation to that and they will have to take that into consideration.”

(11) What did Renaud know? Albert was very upset with the following statement made by Justice Renaud, a reference the 1982 sexual abuse allegations which led to Barque’s resignation as a parole officer and Judge Renaud’s decision to overlook them:

“In this case, it appears that there were some proceedings, internal proceedings, with respect to Mr. Barque after he left the employ of his employer at the relevant time and it does not appear that Mr. Barque took any part in those proceedings. For those reasons, it would be dangerous for the Court to lay any weight or to assess any significance with respect to those findings as he did not have an opportunity to make any submissions or to represent himself in those proceedings.”

“That’s not true” said Albert after Dumais read the quote into the record.

That comment elicited this rather intriguing exchange:

MR. DUMAIS: But the Court didn’t know that, Albert, at that time, correct?

MR. ROY: Where did he get the understanding from? Who told him that Barque didn’t represent himself?
How did the judge come to that conclusion?

MR. DUMAIS: Well, I mean, can’t answer that question, Albert.

And that led to Albert’s question as to why Don Johnson hadn’t worked a little harder to prosecute Barque back in 1982? and why he never checked with probationers to see if they had been molested by Barque? and why he never contacted him to ask if he had been abused?

And on to Johnson’s glowing account of Barque’s abilities to file pre-trial reports as a probation officer, and on to Albert’s constant quest to understand stand why Judge Renaud saw only the positives in the pre-sentencing report and seemed to overlook the negatives.

One final note on this.  Justice Renaud gave Barque four months.  Four months!!!  He referred to the allegations against Barque as “dated or stale-type sexual offences” – whatever that means. Perhaps it would serve him well to sit in on Albert’s testimony to find out about dated and stale?

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Start time this morning (Thursday 09 November 2006) is 9am.  Yes, earlier than usual, but, as usual running behind schedule.

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Giuseppe Cipriano, Father Charles MacDonald’s lawyer, is apparently trying to buy a little more time to prepare his factum (due Friday). And all I can say to that is that I do believe I see Michael Neville’s hand at work here.

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I haven’t the foggiest how things will proceed today.  There are supposed to be submissions in the afternoon regarding confidentiality – and rulings too!

We’ll see…

Meanwhile the whole issue of confidentiality is turning into a dog’s breakfast.

But, enough.  It really and truly is enough for now,

Sylvia
(cornwall@theinquiry.ca)

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