The publication ban at the Father Stephen Amesse trial is sorted out. Testimony can be published, but the name of the complainant and anything which might identify him is not to be published. This is standard in most sex abuse trials.
Because of the ban I will forego relaying some information which I believe to be very relevant regarding both the allegations and cross-examination of the complainant. I do not want to compromise the identity of the complainant in any way, shape or form so will err on the side of caution.
Today, Wednesday 08 March 2017, is Day Three of the trial. It will resume at 10 am. (there have been a number of changes to times. Today may be a 10:30 am start, but best be there for 10 to be sure)
Wednesday: 08 March 2017: 10 am, TRIAL (booked for seven days) Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Ottawa courthouse (161 Elgin St.)
Here is a short recap in point format of what has transpired to date
1. On Day One (Monday) there was a large contingent of Father Stephen Amesse supporters – approximately 25. The trail was moved to a larger courtroom to accommodate the crowd. Day Two (Tuesday) there were about 20 supporters, including a priest;
2. Father Amesse sits alongside his lawyer, Bob Carew. Carew, some may recall, defended Father Dan Miller in Pembroke. Miller entered a guilty plea in June 2013 – he was sentenced to nine months plus ten days in jail (released after spending six months in jail). In October 2014 was back in court on another set of charges. He was acquitted;
3. Barring during testimony Father Amesse seems to be in good cheer – he greets and mingles with his supporters both in and out of the courtroom. He turns around to wave to, smile at and /or give a thumbs up to his supporters;
4. The father of the complainant was the first witness;
5. The complainant is in his 20s. He took the stand on Monday. His cross examination started Monday afternoon and continued throughout Tuesday. It was completed at 4 pm.
6. I shall refer to the complaint as Robert Barnes
7. A reminder that the charges were laid December 2014 after a nine month police investigation.
Please be aware that the allegations referenced below have not been proven in court:
a. For a variety of reasons Robert had few friends. Father Amesse spent time with the boy – the boy confided in him and viewed him as a friend.
b. Father Amesse’s primary contact with Robert spanned a period of about four years, from the time he was about 11 until he was 15 or perhaps 16. There was some contact after that, but the sexual assault allegations relate to those years.
c. Father Amesse took the boy out to eat on a number of occasions. Robert testified that he ate at Father Amesse’s home several times;
d. Father Amesse gave Robert wine to drink, and on one or two occasions, Brandy.
e. Father Amesse used to kiss Robert, on the lips. This happened at the Church and at Father Amesse’s residence. Robert said the kisses were not ‘pecks’ – they lasted a long time, and made him feel uncomfortable, but he thought it was normal
f. Robert received birthday cards and sometimes Christmas cards and Easter cards from Father Amesse via mail. The cards included gifts of money ranging from $50 to $400. Robert’s father opened opened one or two cards, then allowed Robert to open them himself. Robert said that he lied to his parents about the amount of money in the cards – he thought they would get upset. In one card there was note saying “I’m praying for you. I love you.” That card, along with most of the others, was thrown out. There were two cards entered into evidence. One card is dated Christmas 2008. The salutation is “Dear xxxxx” with sign-off by Father Amesse: “You are the best.”
The cards ceased arriving after Robert was 16 or 17.
g. Father Amesse offered to take Robert to Rome, all expenses paid, for a week. He bought him a book about Rome. The boy’s parents would not let him go;
g. Robert saw Father Amesse naked on at least one occasion. Amesse was getting out of the shower. Asked of there are any idnetifying marks on Aftswher Amesse’s body Robert replied that the priest has moles – “those brown things” all over;
h. Father Amesse told Robert that he, Amesse, is gay and bi-sexual;
i. When Robert visited Father Amesse had a framed picture in his living room of a naked man with penis showing. During one visit Amesse told Robert that the man in the picture, Eric, is a friend of his in California, a body builder. Amesse told Robert that Eric shaves his body to show his muscles. According to Robert there is at least one other framed picture of a naked man in the house/rectory. Robert testified that he thought nothing of the pictures because Father Amesse had told him that he, Amesse, was gay
j. One day Robert had been digging in Father Amesse’s backyard looking for artifacts. He was dirty. Father Amesse asked if the boy would like to take a shower. Robert took a shower. After stepping out of the shower, Father Amesse appeared – he had an electric razor – it sounds as though it was some sort of body razor. Father Amesse proceeded to instruct Robert on how to shave the body hair from his body so that he would have a smooth body which showed muscles. According to Robert Father Amesse then shaved him in the groin, touching and shaving his penis, and lifting the boy’s scrotum. Amesse told the boy that this was normal, saying, according to Robert, ‘don’t be shy,’ ‘we’re two grown men.’
After wards Amesse offered to give the boy a massage. The massage was conducted on the bed with Amesse using body oil of some sort. According to Robert, it felt a bit weird – he noted that even his father doesn’t give him massages.
k. During cross-examination Robert agreed that Amesse never talked about sex, “except telling me that he was bisexual and gay.”
l. When defence lawyer Robert Carew suggested that there was no correlation between the serving of alcohol and any sexual misconduct by Amesse, Robert said that he didn’t agree . When Crew pressed on in this vein Robert asked if kissing is considered sexual misconduct . Carew continued pressing his point until Robert replied: “You’re mixing up my words.” Carew pressed on suggesting it was impossible that Father Amesse had given Robert wine when he, Robert, was 13. Finally Robert told Carew, “I have nothing more to say. “v
m. There has been much focus and ado on an incident in which Robert said he and friends were in the woods one night drinking and using marijuana. He was high. He was scared. He was running through the woods. He was in the region of, I believe, the rectory and ran up to the door and started banging on the door. There was no answer. He flet he needed help that night.
Apparently in a previous statement Robert referred to what he experienced that evening as having a black-out which lasted about three days. He said that he has since learned it was not a black-out, but he doesn’t know how to describe it – he says there was anxiety, and that he was aware of what was going on , but that it’s hard to explain. He thinks it was something like a panic attack but he really just doesn’t know how to describe it.
Carew suggested Robert has seen doctors about other things including suicidal thoughts but never asked about the blackout when he could have. Robert replied that there is much about his life that he didn’t want to talk about.
n. It seems that initially Robert denied that he had been drinking or doing drugs that night when he went banging in the door. He admitted that he lied under oath. He testified that had previously denied that he he had been drinking and using marijuana because he was afraid he’d get into trouble.
o. There are issues which defence is pressing as to whether Robert had his shirt on or off when he went for the massage, and whether or not he was in boxer shorts or wrapped in a towel after the shower. Robert testified that if it was boxer shorts, as he had said in an earlier statement, he was told to take them off and he did so.
p. At one point Carew started on a track about Robert talking to Father Amesse abut Robert’s parents. As Carew prepared to interrogate about the nature of the conversations, Robert simply said: “I’m not sure what this has to do with this.”
q. Robert first disclosed to a friend, a woman. He told his Dad after spending a morning drinking in front of the garage. That was 2013. Robert was 19. He went to police February 2014.
r. Carew berated Robert for saying at one time that he hoped Father Amesse would rot in jail.
It’s late. I’ll have to leave it that.
Please keep Robert and his family in your prayers. His mother takes the stand this morning.
Father Barry McGrory has a court date this morning in Ottawa:
08 March 2017: 08:30 am. “to be spoken to,” courtroom #5, Ottawa courthouse (161 Elgin St.)
Please keep the complainants in your prayers.
Enough for now,