Police probe Talbot House complaint

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The Halifax Chronicle Herald

February 18, 2012 – 4:32am


Rev. Paul Abbass (Antigonish Casket)Rev. Paul Abbass (Antigonish Casket)

Cape Breton Regional Police confirmed Friday they are investigating a complaint against a staff member at the Talbot House rehabilitation centre in Frenchvale.

“Talbot House has raised some concerns with police regarding one of its employees,” said spokeswoman Desiree Vassallo.

“We are looking further into that information and will determine whether there’s anything that needs a criminal investigation.”

Rev. Paul Abbass took a leave from his post as executive director of Talbot House on Feb. 3 and has been relieved of his duties with the Diocese of Antigonish after at least one complaint was filed with the Community Services Department.

Dave Mantin, Atlantic Canada group leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said he had received two complaints regarding Abbass, one of which was sexual in nature, while another was about access to medication and Abbass’s behaviour.

Rev. Donald MacGillivray, who has replaced Abbass as spokesman for the diocese, said Friday that the church is taking the matter seriously.

“We want a fair process and we want the truth,” said MacGillivray, who is based in Sydney. “We’ll let the truth lead us to the next place.”

The complaint and its aftermath are the latest difficulty for the diocese. A class action by victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests between 1950 and 2009 was settled by Bishop Raymond Lahey in 2009. Lahey was later stopped at the Ottawa airport and subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of having hundreds of images of child pornography on his computer.

Abbass was spokesman for the diocese in relation to both Lahey’s case and ongoing attempts to raise the $15-million settlement for the lawsuit.

“Have some people been re-evaluating their faith as a result of all the stuff we’ve gone through? Yes, I think that’s the case,” said MacGillivray.

“Others have said, ‘My faith doesn’t depend on a bishop or priest; mine comes from a deep place within me.’ Many are still faithful and attending church.”

MacGillivray said he and other priests discuss recent events with their parishioners. He added that the diocese will co-operate fully with any investigation.

( abeswick@herald.ca)


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N.S. priest steps down after complaints 

The Edmonton Journal

18 February 2012

By Heather Yundt, Postmedia News

John MacEachern, 65, remembers when he read the news in the morning paper.

“I was sad,” he said Friday. “It drained the blood out of my head.”

On Thursday, the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia announced that Rev. Paul Abbass – a top priest in the diocese – would be taking a leave of absence following complaints filed against him at a Cape Breton drug-and-alcohol rehab centre for men.

MacEachern, a Catholic, called this yet an-other storm for members of the diocese.

“It’s a group of people out to sea and they keep getting buffeted by storms,”he said. “People are adjusting to the storms as they get on, and then they settle in, and then another storm hits, and then they adjust again.”

Abbass was the executive director of Talbot House for 17 years, before stepping aside following the complaints. He has also taken a leave of absence from his parish duties. The Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, which provides funding for Talbot House, is working with its board of directors to conduct an organizational review to address the complaints.

Dave Mantin of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said he has recently received two complaints about Abbass. One, he says, was a sexual complaint. The other was related to the refusal of medical treatment and access to medication.

In 2009, the diocese reached a $15-million settlement with people sexually abused by priests as far back as the 1950s.

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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