I have added a few documents and a lot of material to the Father James Mombourquette page.
Some may recall the Mombourquette case and the big legal flip flop which first found the Diocese of Antigonish vicariously liable for the abuse inflicted by Mombourquette upon several young boys, and, in short order after an appeal by the diocese, that the diocese could not be held vicariously liable. The reversal saw victim Francis Wayne MacDonald ordered by the court to pay the dioceses $3,500 legal fees!
The dirty Mombourqette saga was a disgrace in more ways than one. It was here that then Bishop Colin Campbell mounted a defence to a lawsuit claiming that the victims initiated the sexual abuse. Here is the offending clause from the Statement of Defence:
“The defendant states that any activity between the plaintiff and the defendant (priest) occurred as a result of a consensual relationship between the parties or alternatively as a result of acts initiated by the plaintiff.”
Can you believe it?
Outrage from Catholics caused a fairly swift reversal of that line of defence. The offending clause disappeared.
That for me is a reminder of the great divide which seems to exist between the majority of bishops and the majority of laity when it comes to handling allegations of clerical sexual abuse and dealing with the unfortunate victims.
It wasn’t the first time Campbell had come to the defence of molesting clergy by trying to blame the victims. He caused a veritable furor across the country in 1989 when he tried to blame the victims in Newfoundland. Here is one article from the 14 August 1989 Ottawa Citizen:
RC SEX SCANDALS; Nobody ever deserves abuse
A Roman Catholic bishop is questioning the virtue of some of the unfortunate boys sexually molested by Newfoundland priests. Bishop Colin Campbell of Antigonish, N.S., has suggested that at least some of the youths willingly participated in sexual activities and, therefore, were not “true victims” of abuse.
What is the next step in the bishop’s logic? To accuse provocative altar boys of seducing chaste priests?
The issue here is not the children’s morality, but that of the priests who used the authority of their position in the church and community to exploit the trust, weakness and naivete of children.
Bishop Campbell’s statements are outrageous. Such attitudes from church leaders can only sow more pain and confusion among Catholics who are already struggling to understand a situation that led to 18 priests, former priests and brothers being charged with abusing boys in Newfoundland.
Blaming the victims of sexual abuse, as Campbell seems to be doing, is not new. Just ask any woman who has been raped, only to find herself accused of provoking her attacker by having walked too suggestively or dressed too seductively.
The initial response from the church hierarchy to Campbell’s remarks has been almost as alarming as were his words. Archbishop James Hayes of Halifax, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, refused immediate comment, saying Campbell was answerable only to the Vatican.
That is rubbish. The sexual abuse of children by priests is not simply a matter for the church. It is an issue that should concern all members of society. Certainly, it calls for compassion and forgiveness, as Hayes once said himself. But Neanderthal attitudes will help neither sick priests nor their victims.
The bishop, it seems learned nothing! As much as he caused a furor in 1989 it didn’t stop him from unleashing his lawyers in the mid 90s to take another swing at victims. this time at those in his own backyard.
If the bishop thought for one moment that parents and responsible Catholics would climb aboard his Blame the Victims bandwagon the second time around he had a rude awakening. ‘Poor Father was seduced by a little boy’ didn’t go far.
Finally, note here the Mombourquette plea bargain.
07 December 1992: Priest pleads guilty to four charges
At the 11th hour Mombourquette entered a guilty plea. No less than eight charges of indecent assault and one of sexual assault were bargained away. From what I can sort out, each of the charges was a related to a different victim. So, in whittling away the 9 charges, nine victims were dropped!
I have trouble with that. I really do have trouble with it. Try as I might I can not see the rationale for bargaining away criminal charges and whittling away victims.
No. My apologies. I can indeed see the rationale when I put myself in the shoes of the molester-defendant. It serves him well.
Who benefits? Who aside the molester benefits?
And what of those victims who, along with their charges, were plea bargained out of existence?
We read that the victims agreed? Did they? Did they understand what they were agreeing to?
Perhaps they did? Still, it bothers me deeply.
Anyway, at the 11th hour Mombourquette entered guilty pleas to four charges of indecent assault.
He was sentenced to 24 months. According to media reports, he was out in 10. If fact, that’s less than half his sentence.
Not too bad, really, is it? Ten months served of a 24 month sentence?
And 13 charges from 13 victims whittled away to four charges from four victims?
A dirty mess.
Enough for now,