As I mentioned yesterday, a moral and financial support group has been formed for Ottawa’s Father Steve Amesse. Amesse, a former staffer on Parliament Hill, who, as a layman, assisted the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop’s in the compilation of the CCCB sex abuse guidelines From Pain to Hope, was charged December past with two counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexual interference related to allegations of sex abuse of a 14-year-old boy in 2008. The charges followed a nine month investigation by police.
Here, then, are links to a cover letter and attachment heralding the “Friends of Father Steve.”
Friends of Father Steve (group formed to provide moral and financial support for Father Amesse)
I must say first that I fully understand that lawyers cost a fortune. It is expensive to defend oneself these days. I also fully understand that people have the freedom to do what they want with their money. If they want to give dollars to retain a defence lawyer for a priest facing child sex abuse charges they are free to do so.
That being said, there are several things here that bother me deeply, but will restrict to two:
(1) The cover letter refers to “these false allegations.”
The message is now going out throughout Catholic circles that the complainant is an outright liar.
That is totally totally inappropriate.
(2) “Those of you that have worked with Father know that he not only gives of himself in his ministry, but he also gives financially to the Church and its needs. The result is Father has no savings or equity with which to pay for the associated legal fees and supporting services.”
If Father Amesse is penniless he qualifies for Legal Aid. There are any number of defence lawyers who are deemed “good” at their jobs who provide time to defend those whose financial situation obliges them to rely on Legal Aid.
I will add to that that all complainants, including the on in this case, are obliged to accept the Crown who is assigned to the case. There is no choice in the matter: it’s the luck of the draw. A complainant can not pick the smartest Crown, or the one known to abhor child sex abuse, or the one who knows enough abut the Catholic Church not to get run around in ever-decreasing circles by a cunning defence lawyer, or the one with the most ‘wins’ , and on and on and on. The complainant takes whatever Crown is assigned to the case. The complainant has no choice. None.
I will leave it at that.
No, one more thing. Please keep the complainant in your prayers. I doubt that there is a group formed to provide financial and moral support for he and his family? That’s been my observation over the years. I’ve seen sanctuary lamps lit for accused priests, and all sorts of well wishing for accused priests, and prayers galore for accused priests.
I haven’t seen that for the complainants. What I have seen far too often is complainants – and their families – who are publicly and/or privately vilified and left to fend for themselves. That’s why I always ask for prayers for the complainants. They need support and prayers too, every bit as much as the Accused, if not more. I have all the faith in the world that there will be prayers said for Father Stephen Amesse.
Please keep the complainant and his family in your prayers.
Two courtdates tomorrow:
(i) Father Robyn Gwyn (Archdiocese of Kingston, Ontario)
10 February 2015: 09:00 am, “to set a date,”Kingston Ontario courthouse (279 Wellington St.)
Please keep the complainant in your prayers. And please pass on any news of the outcome.
(ii) Father Peter Groulx (Diocese of Thunder Bay, Ontario)
1o February 2015 : 09:30 am, “to set a date,” Thunder Bay, Ontario courthouse (125 Brodie Street North. Thunder Bay, Ontario)
Again, please keep the complainant in your prayers. And, yes, please pass along any and all news of the outcome.
Barring media coverage by morning, tomorrow I try to will get the upcoming courtdates for both Father Amesse and Marcel Lalonde.
Enough for now.