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Father Roger Bazin is appearing in court today.  Please keep an eye and ear out for news of the outcome.

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Last evening I posted 28 May 1990:    R. v. Bennett Between Her Majesty the Queen, and Kevin Joseph Bennett re St. John Newfoundland’s convicted clerical predator Father Kevin Bennett

It’s an interesting read – not too terribly long and gives a feel for where the judiciary may have been at when allegations of Canadian clerical sexual abuse first started breaking in the public domain.

A few things which struck me personally

(1)  The judge believes that he is rendering a “severe” sentence

Four years.  For a Roman Catholic priest.  For 36 counts of sexual abuse of boys aged 11 to 14 over a 17 year period. 

Four years!!!

That’s severe?

True, relative to most sentences in recent years four years might now be considered “severe.”  But that aside, does anyone really think four years is suffice penalty  for a Roman Catholic priest who so callously violates the bodies and souls of young boys, and in so doing wilfully violates the law of the land, the law of the Church and the law of God?

Question:

(i) What do you suppose Bennett would get if he were to stand trial today?  One year?  Maybe two?

(ii)  What does that say for how much we have learned in the last 20 years about the horror of clerical child sex abuse?

(2) Southdown

Bennett spent the grand total of nine days in Southdown, Ontario.  More recent reports of clergy who have been recycled through and/or “treated” at Southdown indicate they spend weeks if not months at the facility, ….and then get gentle little judicial slap on the back of the hand for sentencing. 

Questions:

(i) How many sentences of four years or more have we heard of in recent years?  I could be wrong, and at some point I will check, but seems to me they are few and far between.

(ii)  Is time spent in Southdown or other similar recycling centres inversely proportional to sentencing?  It seems that way. 

(iii)  Is there any accountability for staff of Southdown and other such facilities who claim that a sexual predator can be safely re-integrated into parish service?

(3)  “Good works” 

Justice Easton wrote:

I also take note the quite obvious remorse that Father Bennett has over what he has done.  I also note the many good works he did as a priest over all of these years. 

Questions:

 (i)  Was Bennett’s remorse because he go caught?  or because he knew that he had destroyed the lives of countless boys?

 (ii)  What “good works” could possibly mitigate the scandal and damage done by a predatory priest?  Indeed, I would guess that many of a clerical predator priest’s “good works” amount to no more more than the self-serving process of grooming victims, their families and unwitting parishioners.

(4)  Forensic psychiatrists

 Note the evidence apparently offered by Dr. Ladha, a “very respected forensic psychiatrist.” 

According to Justice Easton, Ladha

has testified in both the Provincial and Supreme Courts in this province on numerous occasions especially where the accused has exhibited various forms of sexual deviation.  I think it is fair to say that as a general rule ‑‑ probably oversimplified ‑ Dr. Ladha recommends treatment rather than incarceration, or shorter periods of incarceration followed by treatment while on probation, and on what he describes as “the legal leash”.

Questions:

 (i)  What about the children?  What about the children who are wilfully put at risk?

 (ii)  Why the hearts and flowers for clerical sexual predators?  The book should be thrown at these men.  If any sexual predator warrants a stiffer sentence it is those who use the collar to stalk their prey. 

(iii)  What “legal leash” can possibly keep tabs on a sexual predators every move 24/7?   Some of these predators are known to molest a child at the dining room table in the presence of the child’s parents!   

 (iv)  Is there any accountability for those who advocated leniency for convicted sexual predators who re-offend?

(5) “Violence”

 Easton wrote:

I have also taken notice of the fact that there was never any violence directed towards the victims.  Considering the position Father Bennett was in however, it is hardly surprising that any violence would in any event be necessary in order to ensure compliance with his wishes.

 The ‘no violence’ argument didn’t get too far with Easton. 

Question:

(i)   Are the Bennett victims supposed to rejoice that Bennett ‘just’ sexually abused them, but never hit them or beat them?

 I must say I hate to see that phrase offered up as grounds for leniency.  I am almost certain that it matters not to the child who was sexually abused whether there was or was not what would constitute “violence.”   It’s the rape of the soul and violation of innocence – in these instances by a Roman Catholic priest – which inflicts life-long damage. 

 Besides, most predatory priests traditionally manage to boldly, methodically, gently and patiently use their collar to seduce their victims.  Ditto the victims’ families.  They are manipulators who use lies and deception to stalk and seduce their prey.  As Easton says of Bennett, ” it is hardly surprising that any violence would … be necessary in order to ensure compliance with his wishes.

(6)  “Orientation”

 Have you ever seen the likes of the gyrations involved in sorting out Bennett’s “orientation”? 

 According to Easton

 In his report Dr. Ladha states that Father Bennett quote “shows evidence of homosexual hebophilia, that is sexual attraction towards young post pubertal boys.  He is also a heterosexual and has had normal sexual intercourse with an adult woman” unquote. 

I find it inexcusable that having a basic heterosexual orientation, he still engaged in “surrogate sex” to satisfy his desires.  If, in making that observation I appear to be down playing some of Dr. Ladha’s findings, then so be it.  In the final analysis one in this unenviable position has to draw one’s own conclusions after, of course, full consideration of all of the relevant circumstances.

Questions

(i)  “Surrogate sex”?!!!

 (ii)  Bennett “shows evidence”  of “homosexual hebophilia” and “is also a heterosexual”?   What exactly is he then?  Might he perhaps be a pederast?  Or maybe a bisexual hebophile?

 What about ephebophile?  Why no mention of ephebophila?  Was that not yet part of the clerical sex abuser’s lexicon?

 (iii)  Why in the long run the judicial  hair splitting over Bennett’s “orientation”?  What difference does it make to young lads he molested?   What difference to the sentencing?    

(7)  Whither the adult woman?

 Bennett, according to R. v. Bennett, had a two-year-affair with an “adult” woman.

 To say the least, this is intriguing.  I say that because nowhere in the 1990 Winter Commission Report (WCR – commissioned by the Archdiocese of St. John’s Newfoundland) is there an inkling of such an affair.  To the contrary.  According to the WCR:  “There is no recorded history in any of these offenders priesthood years of sexual involvement with female partners.” 

Father Kevin Bennett was one the “case studies” of the commission.  

There is not so much as boo in WCR about Bennett’s heterosexual dalliance.  “No recorded history.” 

Not  a boo. 

Why not? 

How such an oversight could have transpired is beyond me.  The Winter Commission released its report June 1990.  The following quote from the WCR tells me there was obviously knowledge within the commission of the outcome of the trial:  “In 1990 the victim [who first disclosed] testified the court proceedings against Kevin Bennett.  Bennett subsequently pleaded guilty to 36 charges of gross indecency and attempted gross indecency.  He was sentenced to four years in jail.”

Did comitte members not read courtroom transcripts?  Did not one of them attend the Bennet trial?  Was there no talk of ‘the woman’ in Bennett’s life?

I truly am stymied with this one.  It makes not an iota of sense. 

 As attested by the following quote from the WCR, the committe members seemed to be at loose end trying to work around overwhelming evidence of clerical homosexual abuse.  

 The evidence available to this Commission indicates that the pattern of sexual assault by these offenders always involved boys of at least 12 years of age at the onset of contact sexual abuse, so there is no compelling evidence of classical pedophilia, which involves a preference for pre-pubescent males. Some of these men were sexually active with a number of adolescent male partners at any given time.  They also appear to be homosexual.  There is no recorded history in any of these offenders priesthood years of sexual involvement with female partners. 

The Commission does not intend to imply, however, that the sexual abuse of children is simply the consequence of homosexuality or homosexual behaviour.  In fact, there is evidence that homosexual persons are, statistically, not the group most likely to abuse children sexually.  The specific abuses the Commission has investigated are, therefore, a statistical anomaly, since the convictions for which convictions have been handed down were committed by men who appear, on the evidence assembled, to have been engaging in homosexual behaviour by preference.

 There is not a single boo there that indicates knowledge that at least one priest  was sexually involved with a woman.  For two years!

 Strange.

 As I say, I have not the slightest inkling why the omission.    Is it really possible that not one memebr of the commission knew?  Any thoughts?

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I am going to dig out my Whalen files right now to see what there is in relation to Father Roger Bazin.  That’s for starters  🙂

Enough for now,

Sylvia

(cornwall@theinquiry.ca)

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