“Why is he saying he’s not guilty?”

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The following is a recap of most of the testimony at the Father Denis Vaillancourt sex assault trial which ran 13-15 June 2017, with closing arguments scheduled at 2pm, 13 July 2017.

There is a publication ban on the name of the complainant and anything which might lead to his identity, hence there is some information which is not included in this re-cap.

For the purposes of this write-up the complainant will be referred to as “Craig.”  The “incident” happened on Labor Day weekend of 2015.  Craig was 20 at the time:  Father Vaillancourt was 69.

I say this is a recap of “most” of the testimony.  There will be a further post re-capping the testimony of Father Vaillancourt.  His videotaped interview with police is included below.  His testimony at trial is not.  It will be posted later.

. . . . .

“Craig” testimony

It was obvious Craig  was uncomfortable and that testifying was not easy.  There were times he was overcome by emotion, struggling to contain his composure and fighting back tears.

This is the essence of what Craig said on the witness stand and under oath :

  • Father Vaillancourt had been a friend of the family for about 28 years. The priest married his parents and baptised Craig and his siblings;
  • Craig  had not been a regular church goer. He had started to go to Church again the previous year (2014).  He testified that in the past he had confided in and gone to Father Vaillancourt for confession;
  • His parents are divorced.  He is very close to his grandparents and visits them fairly  frequently;
  • Father Vaillancourt visited Craig’s grandparents “almost every night” to play cards or watch TV;
  • There was some confusion in Craig’s mind as to what weekend the sex assault transpired, however, it was well established with other witnesses that it was the Sunday of Labour Day weekend.  On that particular Sunday a situation arose whereby Craig  visited Father Vaillancourt at  Vaillancourt’s cottage.   Father Vaillancourt asked Craig if he would like a drink of rye.  Craig declined the offer, saying that he had to drive later in the evening.  Under cross examination Don Johnson suggested that Craig asked for rye.  Craig said no, it was Vaillancourt who suggested the rye;
  • Craig testified that Father Vaillancourt started asking him, Craig, personal questions, such as if he spits or swallows. The priest , he said, had never asked him questions like that before;
  • Father Vaillancourt asked Craig  if he wanted to go inside the cottage. Craig said okay.  He said that he had been inside the cottage before when he went to confession.
  • Once inside the cottage Father Vaillancourt put his hand on Craig’s left shoulder. Craig didn’t know what he was doing.  He testified that sometimes after confession he’d give Father a hug – he thought it was like that, so, said Craig, he initiated a hug;
  • During the hug the priest told Craig something in French which translates  to  “I miss affection”  or “I lack affection.”  The hug lasted longer than a regular hug;
  • Father Vaillancourt asked for a second hug. Craig thought nothing of it.  He gave a second hug.  Then he felt Father Vallancourt’s hand or hands touching his buttocks.   Craig described the area touched by the priest as not right at the bottom of the buttock, but up a bit, but not up in  the small of the  back area.   The touch was followed/accompanied by a light squeeze.  The hug lasted about five seconds.   Craig  didn’t know what to do;
  • When the hug ended Father Vaillancourt asked Craig if the hug had bothered him.  Craig said he had said  “no” and then laughed a bit.  But, he testified, it did bother him.  He said he had known the priest for his entire life .  He couldn’t believe this was actually happening.  It was, he testified, like fight or flight.  When Don Johnson suggested that Craig had told Vaillancourt that he, Craig, had been touched like that before, Craig denied saying that – he acknowledged to the court that he had been touched like that before in consensual situations;
  • Father Vaillancourt started complimenting Craig on his body, telling him he had a nice chest, and a sexy “treasure trail.” When questioned Craig testified that the “treasure trail” is the area which runs from the belly button down to the crotch;
  • Vaillancourt touched Craig’s belly button.  It sounds as though the touch was just under the belly button.  Then Vaillancourt asked  Craig how big his, Craig’s, penis is.  Craig testified that he laughed again, and replied:  “I’m not going to answer that.”    According to Craig, when that particular question was posed  the priest’s entire body was trembling and, said Craig, Vaillancourt   “had the most perverted look on his face.”   That, said Craig, was when  he realized for sure that Vaillancourt was “coming on to me.” He was scared.  He told Father Vaillancourt that  he had to leave;
  • Craig went to his grandparents’ home. When he arrived his grandmother was preparing supper and his grandfather was having a nap.  Craig was crying and hyperventilating.  His grandmother kept asking him “What’s wrong?” and saying,  “It didn’t happen.  It didn’t happen.”  He didn’t want to tell his grandma what had happened because she and Father Vaillancourt were such good friends, but, eventually he told her.  They agreed they would not tell grandfather right then because they didn’t know how he would react;
  • Craig’s grandmother didn’t want Craig driving home in the shape he was in, but, Craig wanted to go home.  When he arrived home his Dad noticed that there was something “off” with Craig.  Craig told his father what had happened.  His Dad, said Craig, was shocked and angry.  When asked by a disgruntled Don Johnson (defence lawyer)  how he knew his Dad was angry Craig replied that his father had said:  “That f—–n’ bastard”;
  • Craig called his Mom that night and told her what had happened. He also called a girl who had been a friend since high school;  (The girl and father were on stand-by to testify but were not called.  Both the mother and grandmother testified);
  • The next day Craig was visiting a family member. Father Vaillancourt called the home.  He asked to speak to Craig.  Craig did not want to talk to Vaillancourt.  He did not take the call;
  • Craig testified that the previous summer (2014) he was starting to practice his faith again.  He asked Father Vaillancourt if it is a sin to be bisexual. Father Vaillancourt told him “no.”  He essentially said that he asked because he was curious;
  • There were occasions during testimony that Craig struggled to retain his composure and fight back the tears.

Mother’s testimony

The mother took the stand with a sheaf of notes and her own bottle of water.  No one ever brings their own water – at least no one that I have ever seen take the stand.  And, I must say that I nearly died when I saw the sheaf of notes.  Witnesses just do not tend to do that.  They just don’t think that it’s something they can do.   The start was, for me, a peek at the refreshing simplicity and naivety of  the mother  🙂  After  all legal minds in the courtroom had nigh to a collective fit over the notes Mom calmly explained that these were the notes she made after talking to Father Vaillancourt and that she brought them to refer to if the need arose.  Eventually she was cleared to keep the notes and advised to refer to them only when necessary :).  As strong a lady as she seems to be she frequently struggled to contain the tears.

This is the essence of what Craig said on the witness stand and under oath

  • Mom has known Father Vaillancourt since she was a teen and  did a high school weekend retreat “with”  him (I think she was referring here to  the R Cubed weekends – a sort of retreat weekend for teenagers?).   Furthermore, Father Vaillancourt married her, and baptised her children.  He was a frequent guest at the table, including Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners:  “He was like a family member”  She described what happened to Grant as like a family member taking a knife and putting it to your throat;
  • Craig called her on 07 September 2015, Labour Day weekend. She knew something was wrong: “I’m his mother.”  She said that Craig was still in a state of shock.  He told her he still couldn’t believe it had happened.
  • Father Vaillancourt phoned her. He asked her if Craig had called to tell her what happened.  She listened.  She did did not offer Father Vaillancourt any information.  Father Vaillancourt  proceeded to tell her that he: had invited Craig into his cottage; offered Craig alcohol and Craig refused;  told Craig that he felt lonely and missed affection; gave Craig a hug;  and then another hug;  touched Craig’s bum; and,  asked Craig  how big or long his, Craig’s,  penis was..  All the while she listened.  She remained calm, she said, wanting to hear everything he had to say.
  • The Mom testified that she is still in shock.   With voice breaking she told the court that “not once” did Father Vaillancourt say “I’m sorry.”   Not once did he apologize.   She was, she said,  really hoping to hear Vaillancourt say ‘sorry.  She was hoping he would say ‘sorry for the pain I have caused.”  It didn’t happen.  She was hurt.  She felt betrayed;
  • Father Vallancourt told her that he didn’t sleep the night of the incident. He said that after Craig left he felt like he was going to pass out, or have a stroke;
  • Then Father Vaillancourt told Mom that he had been sexually abused when he was younger. He told her that he never wanted to be like Father Gilles Deslaurier.   The  mother testified that she couldn’t get upset with Father Vaillancourt, but she told him that he should get help, and she told him that Craig was the number one priority.
  • Vaillancourt  told Mom that he has always been very careful about his reputation.  He told her that he had found someone to go to confession to, but didn’t say who.  She said that it seemed very important to him that he was able to find a priest to confess to.  She  fought back tears as she said she wondered how confessing would make it better.   She continued: “He seemed so proud telling me this [that he had gone to confession]”


Grandma broke down as soon as she took the stand.  She broke down completely.  She looked over at Father Vaillancourt and broke down completely.  She explained that Vaillancourt had told her he would plead guilty.  She felt betrayed.  There were other break-downs as she testified.  It was very difficult for her.

This is the essence of what Grandma said on the witness stand and under oath:

  • Grandma described the close family relationship with Father Vaillancourt. The card games, dinners, marrying all of her children, baptising the grandchildren. Then, fighting back tears: “I still can’t believe he did that to my Craig.”
  • She recounted Craig coming into the kitchen that day. She was preparing supper.  In came Craig:  “Oh my God, he was white like a ghost.  ”
  • “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” she asked the boy.  “Oh grandma, I can’t tell you.”  Eventually he told her.  Again, grandmother broke down.  Craig’s hands. She testified, were shaking:  ‘Grandma, I’m not imagining what he wanted from me.”
  • Grandma wanted the boy to stay for supper. He didn’t want to stay. He thought he was going to vomit.  He wanted to see his Dad.  She asked him to call her as soon as he got home. She was worried about him’
  • The following day Grandma went to talk to Father Vaillancourt. She told the priest she wanted to talk about what had happened the day before.  However, before they talked Father Vaillancourt told her he wanted to tell her about something that happened to him.   Vaillancourt old her that twice when he was young someone had masturbated him.  She didn’t, she said, want to know about that:  “Why he wanted to share that I don’t know.”
  • Grandma recounted what Father Vaillancourt told her had happened the day before. He told her that there was a hug, he told Craig that he, Craig, had a beautiful body.  She told Father Vaillancourt  that Craig told her everything.  She left, went home, and thought about it:  “My God, I gave him a chance – he knows Craig tells me everything.  My God, he’s lying to me.”
  • Back she went the next day. This time Father Vaillncourt told  Grandma that he asked Craig if Craig  had “a big one.” At that, she cried:  “Denis. Denis.  How could you do that to my Craig?”  His response:  “I don’t know.”  He asked her what she wanted him to do.  He asked “What am I going to do?”
  • Grandma asked Father Vaillancourt if he has an attraction to young men. While she testified to his answer she motioned with her hands – arms outstretched in front of her and palms upright describing his motions as he responded in the affirmative: “Yes…I always push it away.”  She then told the priest:  “You broke something inside me.  I don’t want to see you anymore.”  She told him that she had been planning to have some sort of a do for his retirement, but not any more.
  • Father Vaillancourt wanted to know who Grandma was going to tell.  Then he started talking about his reputation.  She told him he should have thought of that before. Twice  he talked about  his concern for his reputation.  She said she would have loved for Father Vaillancourt to ask her how Craig was doing.  He did not.  Grandma said that she really thought that Father Vaillancourt’s reputation was more important to him.  She said to him: “You’re guilty.  You own it.”
  • The distraught and sobbing grandmother grandmother said:  “He betrayed me again .” She was talking about Father Vaillancourt.  The first betrayal was the sexual assault of her grandson:  the second  was the trial, the trial after after he had admitted to her what he had done;
  • When Don Johnson asked her under cross-examination if she believed what Craig told her her instant response was : “Oh yes, if you wold have seen him you’d believe him too.”  When Johnson asked what Grandma wanted of Father Vaillancourt, she instantly replied:  “The truth.”   She said that after all that “Denis” told her, “why is he saying he’s not guilty?”
  • Father Vaillancourt asked her for her daughter’s (Craig’s mom’s) phone number.  He said he wanted to call her to apologise;
  • There were many tears shed by Grandma on the witness stand. The sense of betrayal by a man who is both a priest and a trusted friend was palpable and heart-breaking.

Father Vaillancourt  police interview video

Father Vaillancourt was interviewed by police on 29 October 2015.  The video of the interview was played in court.  The following is the gist of what Father Vaillancurt had to say in the interview:

  • He indicated that he will be living in Montreal for the foreseeable future.
  • Father Vaillancourt asked the nature of the charges. Police told  him that Craig reported abuse.  Vaillancourt asked:   “What did he say?”   Police then read a brief statement from Craig.
  • Father Vaillancourt said that it was the area of the belly button which was touched, not the public area.  He said Craig hugged him first. Then he, Vaillancourt touched Craig’s belly button and ‘quickly pulled away’ because he felt it wasn’t right.
  • When asked if he intentionally touched Craig’s butt he replied ‘I don’t think so.’
  • Father Vaillancourt told police that he knew that Craig was gay. He said he asked Craig if his, Craig’s,  friends think Craig is sexy;
  • He told Craig that he, Craig, has a sexy belly button;
  • When the officer said “you intentionally touched his belly button,’ Vallancourt agreed.
  • Vaillancourt told police that he did not recall putting his hand on Craig’s shoulder. The officer said that that is what made Craig think Father wanted a hug.
  • Father Vaillancourt related his account of events of that that day. According to him, he asked Craig if : he, Craig,  had a boy friend; if he, Craig,  swallowed; if he, Craig,  had a big one (penis ); if his, Craig’s, friends tell him he has a nice body,.  He said he told Craig that he, Craig, has a nice belly button, and touched the belly button.
  • There was talk of a hug which involved Father Vaillancourt’s hands on Craig’s buttocks for about 5 seconds. When he was asked by the police officer if he enjoyed the hug, he replied:  Perhaps, I’m not sure.
  • When asked why he asked Craig about boyfriends Father Vallancourt replied that he was wondering about Craig’s sex life and that he was curious and concerned.  He said that Craig was very comfortable with him, and that  a year ago Craig had gone to Father Vaillancourt for confession.  According to Father Vaillancourt, when he asked Craig if he wanted to go to confession that summer the answer was ‘no.’
  • Father Vaillancourt admitted telling Craig that he, Vaillancourt, missed affection.  When queried about his response he said that he, Vaillancourt, is a priest, he does not have a spouse;
  • When he was asked if he knew why he was there (at the police station) he replied in the negative.
  • He told police that Craig’s grandmother confronted him the next day. He said that he told her initially that he had patted Craig on the bum, but not that he rubbed the boy on the belly.  He told police that he told grandmother about rubbing on the belly the next day.
  • He said that he had apologised to Craig’s mother for what he did and that she seemed to accept his apology. He also told police that he had talked to Craig’s father and was told that Craig was afraid of Father Vaillancourt.
  • Father Vaillancourt referred to the “stupid gesture” of patting Craig on the bum;
  • Vaillancourt asked police if he would need a lawyer. He expressed concerns about the cost of retaining a lawyer, and said that he didn’t know any lawyers.  When asked if has any friends who are lawyers he gave a couple of name.  (As a point of interest here, he did not identify Jacques Leduc as a friend who is a lawyer.  True, Leduc is not a criminal lawyer, but he is a friend and would have names of those who are.)
  • In what can only be described as a confession Father Vaillancourt told police:  “You know what I did…I won’t contest it.”    “The facts are there”  he said, before asking:  “What will be my sentence?  Will I be in jail for a year or two years”

Somehow Father Vallaincourt found former Cornwall Crown attorney turned defence lawyer, Don Johnson, and, just over 19 months after that interview, there he was in court, at trial, with a plea of “not guilty.”

Next, a recap Father Vaillancourt testifying in his own defence.

Enough for now,


This entry was posted in Accused or charged, Canada, Circling the wagons, Cornwall, homosexual, Scandal, Trials and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to “Why is he saying he’s not guilty?”

  1. BC says:

    Thank you for your work in support of victims of clerical abuse Sylvia. Posting this latest piece on Father Denis Vaillancourt obviously involved much effort to collect the information and to organize and communicate it effectively.

    The remedy for the institutional cover-up of clerical abuse by the Church is exposure because the fear of exposure is what fuels the cover-up. If Father Vaillancourt is convicted in this matter I doubt that he`ll be substantially sentenced at all. Yet the evidence disclosed in this case does indicates a need to protect society`s most vulnerable from Father Vaillancourt; including the elderly. I get the feeling that this trial won’t be the end of the story insofar Father Vaillancourt is concerned. I believe that this trial is the tip an iceberg that has been slowly surfacing for decades.

    Even if he’s convicted in this or any other matter, the Holy See won`t defrock Father Vaillancourt in the foreseeable future and so be it: if the Church has no-self-respect; if the Church can`t be bothered about the reputations of it`s clerical members then the prudent thing to do is for all to beware of every single member of the clergy.

  2. Joel says:

    Yes Sylvia the best way for all to protect themselves is by staying away from this religion that obviously does not follow the bible’s counsel to repent of your sins and ask for forgiveness. They cover it up and have done so for many many years and as we have read on this site an envoy from the Vatican called the boys-spiteful who came forward with abuse. . Did anyone learn from the Cornwall Inquiry? Are not inquiries designed to get to the root of the problem and clean it up. No actually the Cornwall Inquiry is proof of a huge cover up and a justice system that has no backbone and is designed to protect the guilty especially those in positions of power and money. Pillars of the community committing sexual abuse. Their definitely not pillars of the community they are poison. Those who cover up are poison too. Perry Dunlop was a very courageous police officer that deserves respect from all Canadians especially on the 150 anniversary of Canada. Without men like him our country would never have been built but because of those who covered up our country has not progressed properly they have regressed.

  3. Jose says:

    Don Johnson is representing Vaillaincourt and he was a former crown attorney that refused to go forward on charges against another priest in Cornwall stating insufficient evidence and refused to have a search done of the priests home and he stated that any sexual contact was consensual. Thats so retarded. What a joke of an ex crown lawyer. . What a bunch of sickos in Cornwall Ontario. What a cover up by our Crowns in Ontario and I guess its a lucrative business to represent priests now instead of be a crown. I think its time for citizens to stand up say enough is enough and sue our OMAG for being such a waste of tax payers money and clean it up with competent people.

  4. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Joel/Jose – Couldn’t agree more! Justice is for the wealthy and powerful, not us the lowly unwashed. We see it regularly in our judiciary, and our own church follows suit very closely.
    Cornwall is a blight, a fungus, a wart that just won’t go away. Our church has learned over the years that wealth and power can overcome justice, and it uses this conditioned knowledge to full advantage. God’s wishes and example be damned!
    Father Jose Silva was another glaring example of the church using a weak judiciary to manipulate the system to facilitate hiding an embarrassment, and shipping an indicted priest out of the country before he could face a judge.
    You and I would not be so lucky. Mike.

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