Father Howard Chabot‘s court date has been adjourned to 01 October 2013: 9 am, courtroom #1, Pembroke, Ontario courthouse.
Father Chabot was in the courtroom, accompanied by a large number of supporters – at least 20, and at least two of whom were priests (wearing their collars). Father Proulx was also present, but he sat apart from the Father Chabot contingent.
On the heels of the news I’ve been receiving from Pembroke I was not at all surprised at the show of support. Several sources told me that the local Knights of Columbus has now become involved and was sending out emails conveying the message that Father Chabot has said he has a clear conscience and asking for prayers for himself and the complainant.
I had difficulty with that. I don’t believe the Knights should allow themselves to be used in a situation such as this. I don’t know about others, but I see that as being used. Granted, there was an option, was there not? Every adult is capable of saying “no.”
So, the KOC is now involved and championing Father Cahbot’s ‘innocence,’ or “clear conscience,” or whatever.
Then, on the heels of that, along came reports that a retired lawyer replied to that email, expressing his anger that an ‘innocent’ man has been charged and urging people to do more than pray.
Since charges were laid it seems Father Chabot has been very publicly on the offensive, and having very little trouble finding willing souls to do his bidding.
I don’t believe I’ve ever seen so many supporters of a suspect clerical molester in a courtroom before. I’ve read about similar cases, but I haven’t seen it with my own eyes.
Basilian priest Father Kenneth O’Keefe had quite a show of support at the Ottawa courthouse one day. I wasn’t there the day he entered his guilty plea so have no idea what the numbers were then, but some months before, when I arrived early, I took a seat outside an Ottawa courtroom for one of his other court dates, and very quickly realized that the charming smiling little man sitting a few chairs to my left was none other than Father O’Keefe, and there he was busy laughing, joking, greeting and chatting and with supporters as they arrived. There weren’t 20. Maybe 10?
Father Joe LeClair‘s criminal charges are related to finances so the optics are perhaps a little different. Still, Father Joe did have a small contingent of supporters at the Ottawa courthouse. One media report identified about 10.
Twenty is a lot!
I have no problem with the fact that people are entitled to provide moral support for friends going through tough times. None. Where I do have problems is when those supporters refuse to acknowledge that “Father” just may be guilty, and the complainant just may be telling the truth, and the police probably had good cause to lay charges.
And, yes, I have great difficult seeing priests using their collars to send a message that they are there to support a priest who is facing charges of child sexual abuse. Ditto retired lawyers.
My concern here is what message is the complainant getting with all of these visual and verbal shows of support for Father Chabot and his ‘clear conscience’?
I fear this is intimidating for the complainant and his/her family. I also fear it will intimidate others who may be struggling to come forward.
As I say, terribly disturbing.
Anyway, that’s what’s going on in Pembroke with the Father Chabot charges.
As for the adjournment, there has apparently been further disclosure which Father’s lawyer needs time to study. The lawyer asked for a one month adjournment. The Justice of the Peace (sitting on the bench this am) agreed.
Enough for now,