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Yesteday was a busy day in a very different kind of way.  The suicide of Father Dale Crampton has touched a nerve in so many, myself included. 

There are two articles posted regarding the suicide:

14 October 2010:  City priest convicted of sexual assaults kills himself 

14 October 2010:  Pedophile priest leaps to death 

Victims and others are wrestling with their emotions on this.  I too am trying to understand my own thoughts. 

 I find there is no joy in the suicide of a priest, even one who has inflicted so much pain and suffering on others and one who, with his many confreres, has been party to so sorely tarnishing the image of the priesthood and bringing scandal to the Church.

It’s strange.  Would it be different had he died of a massive heart attack?  Would I feel differently had he died of natural causes?  I don’t know.  I think so.  I think it would be different. I don’t believe I would be left wondering and as unsettled as I am had he died of natural causes.

There is something terribly sad about anyone reaching such a point of despair that suicide is seen as the only resort, – when that someone is a priest it’s numbing and confusing, even when, yes, he is a convicted child molester. 

Someone suggested to me that it could well be that Crampton vowed he would never set foot inside a jail again, and that, since he was under investigation yet again, he saw and feared the cell block looming.

That I suppose is a possibility.  But, then I think: a priest committing suicide to avoid another stint in  jail?  Maybe.   I just don’t know.  I know the inside of a jail only through Perry’s experience.  I know Perry didn’t tell me everything.  But, I know it wasn’t pleasant. But, suicide to avoid it?  I have difficulty with that.  Still, maybe.  Maybe.  But, a priest?!  A part of me can not fathom it.  But then I can not fathom a priest molesting a child either. 

I wonder why he chose to jump to his death?  Why not a gun?  or an overdose?  Suicide is bad enough, but there’s something about jumping from a balcony which, at least for me,  is particularly chilling.  There’s no turning back.  And, there’s time to think – however brief, there is time to think.

I wonder if he begged God’s forgiveness?  In that brief spell after he jumped did Father Crampton beg God’s forgiveness?

I wonder why he never sought laicization?  It seems he had little use for the Church, so why did he stay?  And why did he still want to be a priest?  Was it a financial thing?  Was it perhaps not so much a case of wanting to remain a priest as it was needing whatever financial assistance he may have received from the diocese? Perhaps that’s it.

We now learn that there apparently were sex abuse allegations against Father Crampton dating back to the early 60s.  He was ordained in 1963.  Was he molesting from the day he was ordained?  It sounds like it, doesn’t it?.  That begs the inevitable question: Was he molesting while he was in the seminary?  If indeed he was, why would he dare think himself fit for ordination?

Did he have no conscience?  How could he possibly do the despicable things he did and not have a conscience?

Diocesan officials allegedly knew he was abusing in the 60s and did nothing.  Setting aside the obvious fact that from that day forward  children were wilfully put at risk and were indeed molested, what favour did they do Father Crampton?  What favour did they do him by recycling him?  It’s a given it was no favour to his victims, but was it, in the long run, a favour to Crampton? 

I wonder too if he was devoid of even one tiny little vestige of faith?  Was there nothing left?  Absolutely nothing?

And I wonder if before he took that awful plunge he thought for one little moment about his many victims?  I wonder if he considered apologizing to the many whose innocence he had so selfishly violated?  Did he?  I wonder.

I hope he begged God forgiveness in those final seconds of his life.  I hope he thought of and prayed for his victims. 

He may have.  I think there was time.

So very unsettling. May God have mercy on his tortured soul.

A final note.  There was no obituary in the paper.


Other media which some may not have seen, with quick comment

(1) 14 October 2010:  Priest’s bail hearing continues Monday 

Why does this go on and on and on? One bail hearing after the other. 

(2) 14 October 2010: Investigation into Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Priest Ongoing: RCMP 

Good news that the investigation is ongoing.  It’s taking a long time.    

(3) 14 October 2010:  Retired priest faces new charges 

Finally Ted Holland’s allegations against Hod Marshall have been heeded and acted upon.  Perseverance paid.  Good for you Ted, and good for the others who had the courage to come forward.

(4) 14 October 2010:  Priests child sex abuse scandal spreads to third Ontario city 

There is actually a warrant out for Hod Marshall’s ’s arrest!  That apparently will be negated if and when the Sudbury charges are joined with those in Windsor.  Hod’s lawyer Andrew Bradie apparently hopes to have all charges from Toronto and Sudbury transferred to Windsor.  

Here is the current  breakdown of charges and allegations against Hod Marshall:

Sudbury:  6 complainants.  6 counts of indecent assault. 6 counts of gross indecency

Windsor:  6 complainants.  1 count sexual assault. 5 counts indecent assault 

Toronto:  One victim.  2 counts indecent assault.  Three additional complaints under investigations 

The current totals:

Charges: 20

Complainants: 13 whose allegations have led to charges and

3  whose allegations are still under investigation

Enough for now,



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10 Responses to Unsettling

  1. Cheryl Helena Delacroix Thomson says:

    Respectful, conciliatory, and sympathetic would be the adjectives I would use to describe the general ‘tone’ of the two linked newspaper accounts, per the suicide of Fr. Crampton. In addition, the Ottawa Citizen (1st link) includes a very flattering photograph of the man, who clearly had the features of a matinee idol.

    Note the ‘little’ nuance included in the story: “… just blocks from his childhood home…” I wonder who it was who contributed this touching aside.

    Further, the Ottawa Citizen account includes the information that originally when charged and convicted in 1986, Fr. Crampton was “diagnosed with alcoholism and pedophilia…” To my knowledge, neither of these behaviors are acknowledged as ‘diseases’ today, so these diagnoses cannot be considered valid. Clearly, current medical determinationos have bypassed the Ottawa Citizen; or the paper is content to publish now discredited information without clarification.

    Then the article closes with an informative comment from a contemporary priest, Rev. Francis Morrisey. “Morrisey said that as of 1983, suicide is no longer a cardinal sin under Canon Law. Because of that, suicide victims are allowed funerals in the Catholic Church.”

    Neither the attorney for the victims, Robert Talach, nor Rev. Morissey speculate that Fr. Crampton’s suicide may have been the result of his succumbing to the pains of conscience, i.e., an overwhelming remorse.

    Instead, Talach says: “For Dale Crampton, who had already been through the meat grinder once, having been prosecuted in the ’80s and then exposed last year, it might have just been, at his age, just another situation he wanted to avoid.”

    Fr. Morissey says: “We’re all so sad that he felt so depressed and couldn’t seek help,” Morrisey said in a phone interview. “He had his friends, but you can’t tell when something snaps like that. I have a feeling he was alone.”

    No, in our culture there is no such thing as guilt, and certainly no such thing as guilt that can drive you to suicide. There is no comprehension that perhaps at last Fr. Crampton was faced with the enormity of the destruction in human lives which he had caused.

    Here is a man who was financially supported by the Catholic Church for over 20 years after his criminal conviction, evidently enjoying an early retirement, courtesy of the donations of faithful churchgoers over the years. When he was sued in civil court, the Catholic Church footed the bill for the settlement.

    Perhaps, at the end, Fr. Crampton realized how high a price everyone had paid for his sexual kicks, and he was sick of himself. In saying that, I believe I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.

    Another disturbing aspect of our culture is that we regard death as the most horrible possible outcome, and this in a society that by and large no longer believes in hell. No, for many of us, it is the cessation of the privilege to exist on this earth which is regarded as the greatest possible loss.

    I disagree. Providing my hypothetical assessment is correct, and that immense sorrow at the suffering of his victims drove him over the edge of his 24-story condominium building, the real tragedy of Fr. Crampton was that he did not know how to reconcile himself with God and be forgiven. He did not know how to heal guilt… with faith.

    His ignorance reflects that of the majority of his generation. His ignorance reflects perhaps our own.

    Fr. Crampton evidently believed doctrines taught officially from 1983-2010, building on teachings which became popular only a few decades before that, rather than pondering the eternal value of those of previous centuries. He regarded suicide as a viable decision to end his life.

    I would like to include here two extended quotes from The Catholic Encyclopedia, compiled 1905-1917.

    “To destroy a thing is to dispose of it as an absolute master and to act as one having full and independent dominion over it; but man does not possess this full and independent dominion over his life, since to be an owner one must be superior to his property. God has reserved to himself direct dominion over life; He is the owner of its substance and He has given man only the serviceable dominion, the right of use, with the charge of protecting and preserving the substance, that is, life itself. Consequently suicide is an attempt against the dominion and right of ownership of the Creator. To this injustice is added a serious offence against the charity which man owes to himself, since by his act he deprives himself of the greatest good in his possession and the possibility of attaining his final end.

    “Moreover, the sin may be aggravated by circumstances, such as failure in conjugal, paternal, or filial piety, failure in justice or charity, if by taking his life one eludes existing obligations of justice or acts of charity, which he could and should perform. That suicide is unlawful is the teaching of Holy Scripture and of the Church, which condemns the act as a most atrocious crime and, in hatred of the sin and to arouse the horror of its children, denies the suicide Christian burial. Moreover, suicide is directly opposed to the most powerful and invincible tendency of every creature and especially of man, the preservation of life. Finally, for a sane man deliberately to take his own life, he must, as a general rule, first have annihilated in himself all that he possessed of spiritual life, since suicide is in absolute contradiction to everything that the Christian religion teaches us as to the end and object of life and, except in cases of insanity, is usually the natural termination of a life of disorder, weakness, and cowardice…”

    “The plague of suicide belongs especially to the period of decadence of the civilized peoples of antiquity, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. The Christian Middle Ages were unacquainted with this morbid tendency, but it has reappeared at a more recent period, has developed constantly since the Renaissance, and at present has reached such an intensity among all civilized nations that it may be considered one of the special evils of our time.

    “This suicide rate obviously includes suicides attributable to mental illness, but we cannot accept the opinion of a large number of physicians, moralists, and jurists who, led into error by a false philosophy, lay it down as a general rule that suicide is always due to insanity, so great is the horror which this act inspires in every man of sane mind. The Church rejects this theory and, while admitting exceptions, considers that those unfortunates who, impelled by despair or anger, attempt their life often act through malice or culpable cowardice. In fact, despair and anger are not as a general thing movements of the soul which it is impossible to resist, especially if one does not neglect the helps offered by religion, confidence in God, belief in the immortality of the soul and in a future life of rewards and punishments.

    “Widely different reasons have been advanced to explain the high frequency of suicide, but it is more correct to say that it does not depend on any one particular cause, but rather on an assemblage of factors, such as the social and economic situation, the misery of a great number, a more feverish pursuit of what is considered happiness, often ending in cruel deceptions, the ever more refined search for pleasure, a more precocious and intense stimulation of sexual life, intellectual overwork, the influence of the media and the sensational news with which it daily provides its readers, the influences of heredity, the ravages of alcoholism, etc. But it is undeniable that the religious factor is by far the most important, the increase in suicides keeping step with the de-Christianization of a country.”


  2. michael says:

    In child abuse cases both people suffer: the abuser as well as the abused. The abused gets support, comforting words and sympathy from others whereas the abuser is condemned by the society, friends and families and even the church (though it appears to be not).The view of the church has changed about suicide because most of the time it is not a pre planned act. That particular point in time one feels that he or she is worthless and useless and ends one’s life. It seems, that is what happend to Fr. Crampton.The church must have given money for him to survive based on the years he worked as a priest. As far as I know the pension even the retied priests gets is very little. Very hard to survive with that. They retire at 75!! Even if one is a criminal or murderer, the government feeds them , they get the unemployment benefits, canadian pension plan benefits etc. I do not agree with the people who say that we should not support them to survive. It is a christian charity that the church does for the man who abused children. The victims asks for millions, which I believe, they ask for is to take away their pain and suffering ???. I do not, If I am the victim, I will not ask for money. In many cases ultimately it comes down to money.I pray for this priest’s soul. Forgive his sins and welcome him to His banquet table. Also for his victims. May God give them comfort and peace. Pray for the catholic church, which is the only tru church instituted by Christ and it’s leader the Pope, the bishops and priests who are the instruments of Christ’s Peace and Love. Pray to give courage to the good priest who are struggling hard to hold on to their voation because of the scandls caused by some of their brother priests. These good priests we see around us in Hamilton, Caledonia, Cayuga, Hagersville, Simcoe, Dunnville, Brantford, Toronto etc etc. are the pillars of the church who strengthns our faith inspite of a few scandals.

  3. Lina says:

    I spoke about a suicide of a priest to a relative of mine over the telephone last week. Her views are similar to Michael’s. Not everything but some. Please forgive me Michael.

    She added that when a priest commits suicide it is his way of saying “he is sorry for what he has done, he’s already has paid the price”.

    I felt sick to my stomach. I did share with her what happened to me once when she came to visit us. She lives out west.

    She went on to say victims come forward & this brings out more folks to think & say they are victims also. Then other people remember maybe or not they were abused. It is like a domino effect. After all, when they were so call abused they thought it was normal therefore that is why they said nothing.

    In other words, when I was molested(a stranger) at 9yrs old in a movie theater I must have like it? What a lie! I need to stay away from people like that. From this time on I will not speak about this subject of clergy abuse to her again. She is full of rotten prunes when it comes to that topic.

    People like that is toxic to me.

    There is always hope. I’ll be fine. I’m okay until I hear people point to victims that it is their fault in some or in many ways.

    Thanks for listening.

  4. Michel B. says:

    It’s more than a few scandals but I agree with most of your post as it is Christ like in nature, HE was not into casting stones and had no trouble sitting with harlots and the dispossessed. I like that you are seeking a balanced view. My work in child welfare always garnered some comments about how can you work with abusers.. well if you allow them the ability to come good, have pay their price, give them some support in treatment and then have them understand their responsibility to walk a path free of abuse after the fact you are protecting future victims. In our society we do not kill or cast the perpotrators to banishment foreever hence we do have a responsibility to supervise them after the fact as well. On the first post I disagree witht the one comment that alcoholism is not a desease obvious you have not seen how powerless these men and women become and I understand that pedaophilia as well as alcoholism is in the psychiatric DSM 4 manual.

    DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Dependence

    A maladaptive pattern of alcohol use, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by three or more of the following seven criteria, occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:

    1. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

    a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect.

    b) Markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.

    2. Withdrawal, as defined by either of the following:

    a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to DSM-IV for further details).

    b) Alcohol is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

    3. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

    4. There is a persistent desire or there are unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.

    5. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol or recover from its effects.

    6. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.

    7. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the alcohol (e.g., continued drinking despite recognition that an ulcer was made worse by alcohol consumption).

    Diagnostic criteria for 302.2 Pedophilia
    Over a period of at least six months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger).
    The person has acted on these sexual urges, or the sexual urges or fantasies caused marked distress or interpersonal difficulty.
    The person is at least age 16 years and at least 5 years older than the child or children in Criterion A.

    Note: Do not include an individual in late adolescence involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 12- or 13-year-old.

  5. michael kitson says:

    about 12 years ago an elderly friend found out that he had an inoperable disease. He had about two years to live and no medical insurance. To aleave his pain and sufferings he would be forced to mortgage his home to pay for treatments. This course would see his bride of thirty years left destitute. His choices were few. A few months latter while returning home on the parkway his car hit the base of a large bridge. Suicide or love and caring for a loved one?
    Perhaps Dale wanted to spare his Church, friends and victims further pain.

  6. Larry says:

    Yes. We ought to be carefull about judging and condemming those have and are about to voluntarily end their lives.
    If suicide is judged to be morraly wrong then we all better take a very close look at ourselves. If you smoke. If you eat in excess/If you eat to little.If you eat the wrong things.If you climb mountains , skydive, if you run into a burning house to save a child. Who decides that a person who deliberatley puts a loaded gun to their head and pulls the trigger is worse than the person who continues to smoke and chooses to deny that it will likeley kill him/her.
    What about when a person in the name of honor voluntarily submits himself to certain death by his captors like Socrates , Jesus , Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others.
    Socrates said that the unemined life is one not worth living and Jesus live the same way.Aristotle said that life should be lived to the fullest but not at all cost.
    It isnt true that those who commit suicide are cowards. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to take ones own life.
    It isn’t true either that most suicides are not preplanned, they are by far in the vast majority of cases.And that is the one thing that helps to make them preventable.

  7. Larry says:

    Socrates said the ” unexamined life is one not worth ling.” He could have avoided the death sentence simply by agreeing not provoke people to question the established order of religion and the gods. Jesus was charged with the same. The faithfull and th religious leaders in both instances were not VERY STRONGLY opposed to criticil examination because of the fear of disruppting the established order and the laws that were written in stone. The laws in stone were seen as more valuable than the people they were intended to guide. Jesus’ work on earth was to move the laws from stone into the flesh. Many didnt get it then and many dodnt get it yet.

  8. Larry says:

    Post 7 error
    should read “were VERY STRONGLY oppossed”

  9. Larry says:

    My typing and spelling ” SKILLS ” are so closed to 0 it’s not even funny.

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