It’s a little late, and rather brief, but, as promised, here is a recap from the courtroom on Friday 25 November 2011, the day Monsignor Robert Borne was pronounced guilty. This is a sequel of sorts to my previous blog on Borne’s testimony. In the latter I referred to the two complainants as C1 and C2. (C1 alleged abuse at the Bishops’ Palace in Pembroke. C2 alleged abuse at the parish rectory in Griffith,Ontario)
Court was scheduled to start at 10 am. I arrived at the courthouse at around 9:50 am. Monsignor Robert Borne, a few family members and supporters were outside the second-floor courtroom. I saw a few hugs.
Monsignor Borne was in the same dark suit with gray shirt open at the neck which he had worn when he took the stand in his own defence on Wednesday.
Also outside the courtroom was a lady with a shopping cart stacked with bags and papers. Yes, that’s right: a shopping cart.
Most of us went into the courtroom to take our seats around 9:55 am. There were about 23 in attendance. The complainant whom I previously identified as C1 was there with his wife. Two victims of Bernard Prince were there. Suzanne was there. We, along with another man from Toronto sat on the right.
The Borne victim C2 was not there.
A lady and a younger woman sat in the centre benches. I have no idea who they were but I don’t think they were there as supporters of Borne.
On the left side of the courtroom sat Father Peter Proulx,
Borne’s mother, Borne’s sister and others who seemed, with perhaps one exception, to be Borne supporters.
Two journalists, one from the Eganville Leader and the other from the Pembroke Daily Observer were in the room.
The lady with the shopping cart came into the courtroom with a huge hang-bag suitcase thing slung over her shoulder. She found her way into the front bench on the left. I swear to goodness every pocket in the bag had documents sticking or hanging out.
Assistant Crown attorney John Pepper was standing at the lectern, ….waiting.
10:10 am: No judge.
As we waited, the lady with the handbag was rifling through documents and files, She pulled out one set of documents after the other, flipping through pages, at times shaking her head, and often turning to scan the courtroom.
Borne sat at the defence table alongside his lawyer Carew. There was very limited communication between the pair.
The air was charged.
10:10 am. No judge
Idle chatter periodically throughout the courtroom. There were moments of absolute, heavy and uncomfortable silence.
The lady with the bag continued rifling through her cache of documents, occasionally settling in to digest and ponder the contents of one or the other.
Defence lawyer Robert Carew told Assistant Crown John Pepper that he might as well sit down. Pepper opted to remain standing.
10:20 am: No judge.
I swear you could cut the air with a knife. As the clock ticked away, the tension mounted.
10:30 am: Still no judge
10:31: Justice Julianne Parfett entered the courtroom.
Right down to business.
The judge recounted the charges, and recapped the evidence of both witnesses and Monsignor Robert Borne.
As she read her decision and referenced key points in his testimony, Borne’s head was down.
The judge said that she did not believe Borne, nor did his testimony raise a reasonable doubt. She found him evasive with his testimony, had trouble believing that he wouldn’t know that C1 was drinking at the rectory, and felt he would have had to direct the boys to know where the alcohol was kept. She noted that Borne was non-responsive to some questions and couldn’t provide an explanation for fondling C2: she seemed to be of the mind that there could be no purpose for the fondling (Borne called it groping) other than that of sexual gratification.
Justice Parfett noted that Borne was an adult and both complainants were teenagers living at home and attending high school. She noted Borne’s evasiveness regarding his sexuality in that he admitted having sex with other men but denied he was homosexual. The justice commented that it is generally accepted that most men who have sex with other men are homosexual.
Justice Parfitt said that she found discrepancies in the testimony of C1 to police, during the preliminary hearing and in the court.
Borne was acquitted on the C1 charges. The judge did however note that she believed the assaults at the Pembroke rectory (palace) to which C1 referred probably did occur. She also used his testimony as similar fact evidence.
The judge found the testimony of C2 to be “scrupulously honest.” When she made reference to C2’s testimony that he was frozen, paralyzed and rigid when Borne performed fellatio on him, Borne’s head drooped another notch.
There was some fidgeting in the ranks of the Borne supporters as the judge read out her ruling – some of those present had not been in the courtroom when he took the stand in his own defence. I am sure the recap of his own testimony was not pleasant to hear.
And, then it was over: Acquitted on one count of indecent assault and one of gross indecency from C1; guilty on one count of indecent assault and one of gross indecency from C2.
The defence has been ordered to prepare a pre-sentence report.
Sentencing will be 10 April 2012.
As I mentioned before, I talked briefly to C1 afterwards. He was not at all unhappy with the outcome and ‘happy’ with the guilty verdict. Not was he distressed that Borne was acquitted on the two charges which stemmed from his allegations. He took comfort in the fact that the judge believed the assaults probably did occur.
As I said before, C1 has, I believe, a story to tell about testifying which would benefit all those who are thinking of coming forward or heading toward trial. I don’t want to put words in his mouth by recapping so hope that when he is ready he will share what he learned of the whole legal experience.
I know many a victim doesn’t read their prior statements before taking the stand because they feel that they know the truth and there is no need at all to read what they have said in the past. I also know that victims feel they should remember ever single detail surrounding the abuse itself and don’t realize that what is etched in their memory forever is the abuse itself and not necessarily the finer details. There is nothing wrong with not remembering the finder details, such as, as I witnessed at one trial, what side of the fireplace the poker was on.
C1, if you are following, and if you are willing and ready to do so, would you give some words of advice to others on what you have learned. I believe that other victims can learn from your experience.
A final note. I don’t know if I mentioned it elsewhere, but I was very impressed with Assistant Crown John Pepper. He did an outstanding job on cross-examination. Outstanding.
I understand he is retiring. A great loss.
Oh yes, another final point :). After the verdict I talked to the poor dear soul with the shopping cart. She has some kind of court case in the offing. She was attending the Borne verdict to try to familiarize herself with the process. Sad.
A point of interest. The Pembroke court house is built above the old old jail cells which date back to the late19 th century. They have been left intact and are open to the public. I dashed down and took a quick look
My goodness, talk about overcrowding! Each cell had three beds – two placed vertically and one horizontally across the tops of the two. I am sure there was no more than a foot separating the two vertical beds, and no space at all between the tops of those beds and the horizontal bed. No room at all.
Enough for now,