Two Ontario judges and a Cornwall Crown attorney have been formally accused of obstructing justice.
All three, Robert Pelletier, Peter Griffiths and Murray MacDonald, were at one time Crown attorneys involved in the prosecution, or, as in the case of Murray MacDonald, non prosecution, of Father Charles MacDonald. Pelletier and Griffiths are now judges. Murray MacDonald continues as Crown attorney in Cornwall, a position he held in 1992 when David Silmser first told Cornwall police he had been sexually abused by Father Charles MacDonald and probation officer Ken Seguin.
The allegations of obstruction of justice stem largely from the contents of a 02 April 1997 memo sent from Robert Pelletier to Peter Griffiths. Both were Crowns at the time. Griffiths was Pelletier’s immediate superior.
In the memo, which was entered into evidence during the testimony of John MacDonald, Pelletier indicates that he is in quandary as to whether or not to lay further charges against Father MacDonald on behalf of two new complainants, and that it is in that capacity that “my personal as well as professional affiliations with Murray MacDonald become a complicating factor.”
When, at a later date, I post the memo and a related in-depth article you will see that Pelletier’s affiliations with Murray MacDonald are a “complicating factor” precisely because they place him, Pelleter, in a conflict of interest. He is in a conflict of interest situation and he knows it.
In short then the memo shows that both Pelletier and Griffiths were aware that
(1) Pelletier was in a conflict of interest situation and did nothing about it for nearly two-and-a-half years, and
(2) Murray MacDonald was in serious undeclared conflict of interest while the Silmser allegations were being investigated. The undeclared conflict was Murray MacDonald’s personal contacts with, to name but a few, Ken Seguin, the Chief of police, Father Charles MacDonald, the bishop of the day (Eugene Larocque) and, Murray’s uncle Malcolm MacDonald who was Father MacDonald’s lawyer.
That then is a brief synopsis of the memo which triggered the accusation that Pelletier, Griffiths and Murray MacDonald obstructed justice.
John MacDonald is the complainant.
John, an “alleged” victim of Father Charles MacDonald, states that he attended the Cornwall Police station on Saturday 20 January 2007. He states that he told Mr. Nelson Ayotte, a member of the Cornwall police, that he wanted the trio charged with obstruction of justice.
My attempts yesterday to confirm that the allegations were received by police and the current status of the complaint came to naught. Nelson Ayotte was not available. Angela, a dispatcher, cited privacy policies and stated that the force could not confirm that a complaint was lodged. As I understood her response, only the complainant can attain such confirmation. Furthermore, it seems that all charges are not routinely made public. If and when police lay charges the charges may – may – be made public. I am surprised.
Anyway, between now and then, where this all goes remains to be seen. Indeed, the allegations open up a hornet’s nest, particularly given that
(1) the Cornwall police force, the office of the Attorney General and the OPP are already heavily implicated in the Cornwall scandal and are seen by many as party to a cover-up;
(2) all Crown attorneys are employees of the Attorney General; and
(3) these allegations of obstruction of justice go to the heart of the allegations of cover-up.
Just try to think it through. For example:
(1) Which, if any, Ontario police force is capable of conducting a truly impartial investigation into these allegations against two judges and a Crown attorney?
(2) Is there a Crown attorney employed by Attorney General Bryant who is impartial and could be perceived as impartial and therefore in a position to advise police on the merits of laying charges against Pelletier, Griffiths and/or Murray MacDonald?
(3) If charges are laid is there a Crown attorney working for the Attorney General who could prosecute the case without hint of interference from fellow Crowns or the AG? and in such a fashion that not only would justice be done, it would also and equally importantly seen to be done?
(4) Is there a judge anywhere in Ontario who could take the bench at an obstruction of justice trial for any or all of the trio who could be remotely perceived as impartial and independent? and, finally
(5) All those who deny a cover-up and dismiss the allegations of a paedophile ring and cover-up as no more than “rumour” and “innuendo” have an obvious and vested interest in ensuring that none of the accused trio are charged.
Sadly, justice in and for Cornwall – as it relates to the Cornwall sex abuse scandal – can no longer be sought or wrought through Ontario Crowns and judges. Too may are compromised, too many are in conflict and too many are seen as part of the problem.
What a horrific sordid mess.
And so, how John’s complaint is handled and by whom remains to be seen. I believe however that it goes without saying that it must be handled, …..and it must be handled properly. Justice must be done .
One final but very important note on this: Good for you John 🙂 That took courage and stamina. Well done!
In light of this turn of events I will, as mentioned earlier, turn my energies to completing my research and wrapping up the article I have been working on related to the Pelletier memo. I believe the timelines and other bits and pieces of information I have already compiled will help put what’s happening here into perspective.
I will also post the memo itself – redacted as required – and inject my comments to clarify some statements which seem to misrepresent some facts.
Hearings resume at 2 pm on Monday 29 January 2007 with comments from Justice Glaude about where we’ve been and where we’re going 🙂
I believe David Silmser is scheduled to take the stand on Tuesday, 30 January 2007.
And that’s enough for now,