The Halifax Chronicle Herald
April 18, 2012 – 4:19am
Father Paul Abbass (right) has issued a statement saying he is thankful for the support he received after allegations of inappropriate conduct with residents of Talbot House surfaced several months ago. (STAFF / File)
The former executive director of Talbot House says that while he is “pleased and relieved” that allegations against him have been resolved, he is taking personal time for recovery.
In a statement released Tuesday, Father Paul Abbass said he is thankful for the support he received during what he called “an intensely difficult and challenging period.”
Allegations of inappropriate behaviour with residents of Talbot House surfaced several months ago. A police investigation concluded there was no basis to pursue the matter.
Talbot House was later the subject of an organizational review by the province, and since then, the facility has closed. Abbass expressed disappointment with the way the review was conducted and sadness about the closure.
“I believe in the work and community of Talbot House and know it had a profound impact on those who lived, worked and visited our community,” he said in his statement.
“I appreciate the efforts of the board and the public and all who are concerned about the future of Talbot House and hope that, in a spirit of fairness and goodness, we may see this important facility reopened to serve the needs of those who struggle with their addictions.”
Abbass’s statement comes on the heels of a nine-page response from the board of the additions recovery centre in Frenchvale. The board was reacting to a Community Services Department review that was critical of the site’s operation and highlighted a lack of compliance with department standards.
The board’s response said the provincial report “often offers opinion as fact, without apparent effort to seek independent verification” and that while the board acknowledges not being in full compliance with department standards, “there is ample evidence that the board was addressing these policy issues in a systematic fashion.”
The organizational review was triggered by a complaint the province received from a former resident. That was soon followed by allegations about Abbass’s conduct.
The board’s response said that members “never received a formal complaint” against Abbass and suggested the department basically forced them to go to the police. Board members claim that the department “would not provide the board with requested information regarding the specific complaints or allegations.”
On Tuesday, Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse disputed that point.
“What we did offer up was the fact that the gentleman making statements in the letter was agreeable to meet with the board of directors so they could sit and question him and hear first-hand the information he was providing us,” said Peterson-Rafuse. “The board declined to meet with him.”
The minister said the department acted based on its authority and said the former residents of Talbot House are receiving proper care. The province will soon offer a request for proposals for a new round-the-clock addictions recovery centre, and Talbot House is welcome to apply, assuming the board can show that organizational issues have been addressed, said Peterson-Rafuse
John Gainer, chairman of Talbot House’s board, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Priest relieved police have concluded investigation into rehab centre
The Winnipeg Free Press
Posted: 04/17/2012 3:45 PM
By: The Canadian Press
SYDNEY, N.S. – A Roman Catholic priest who was under investigation at a drug rehabilitation centre where he worked in Cape Breton says he is relieved that police have dropped the case.
Rev. Paul Abbass says in a statement Tuesday he was told by the police that they had concluded the investigation and will not be laying any criminal charges.
He says he was “pleased and relieved” that the matter involving his work as executive director at Talbot House has been resolved, adding that it had been an intensely difficult time for him.
But Abbass says he is disappointed with the way the Department of Community Services was handling a review of the facility, which has since closed, but he didn’t elaborate.
The department said in February that it was looking at everything from financial oversight practices, programs and board management.
The review and police probe began after someone filed a complaint against Abbass, but Talbot House offered no details on the nature of the complaint.
On Monday, Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse said the complaint was based on how Talbot House was run.
Peterson-Rafuse said the $420,000 in provincial funding for Talbot House wasn’t cut, but was discontinued when the board of directors told the department on March 7 that it was closing during the review.
She said that doesn’t mean funding won’t be restored, but the board now has to meet with the department to discuss whether it can meet the organizational requirements set out in the review.
Abbass said Talbot House had a “profound impact” on those who lived and worked there.
“Obviously, I remain saddened by the closure of Talbot House and recognize that so many others have suffered due to this closure,” he added.
Abbass said he is looking forward to returning to his duties with the church after taking some personal time off.
“This has been an intensely difficult and challenging period in my life; however, it has also been a time of tremendous support and care offered by family, friends, parishioners, Bishop (Brian) Dunn, the priests of the diocese, the Talbot House Community and many others,” he said.
Priest relieved by results of police investigation
The Cape Breton Post
Published on April 17, 2012
SYDNEY — Roman Catholic priest Rev. Paul Abbass has broken his silence over a police investigation that concluded there was no basis for criminal charges against him.
“Obviously I was pleased and relieved that this matter has been resolved,” he said in a statement that was released Tuesday afternoon.
Abbass said although he plans to return to ministry he has to take some personal time for healing.
“I know everyone will understand my need for reflection and healing,” he said while also noting he won’t be doing any media interviews at this time.
The Cape Breton Regional Police said last week they have dropped their investigation into a former employee of Talbot House and have no basis to pursue any criminal charges. Abbass confirmed in an email that he was the person being investigated.
Abbass had taken a leave of absence from his position as executive director of Talbot House, a residential treatment facility for men suffering drug and alcohol addictions.
Talbot House’s board of directors didn’t reveal details of any allegations against Abbass at the time.
The provincial Community Services Department recently released a report based on an operational review of Talbot House saying it was prompted by a complaint from a former resident of the residential treatment facility, but not providing any other details.
The board of Talbot House in its response to the Community Services report has said it was informed by the provincial department on Feb. 2 that there had been additional reports of complaints and allegations against the executive director including allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour in his relationships with residents.
The board said although the information it received was second-hand allegation and innuendo, the nature and potential seriousness of the allegations and its responsibility to the residents compelled it to place the executive director on leave from his duties until the matter could be properly investigated.
Following a directive from Community Services, the board reported the allegations to the police, it said.
The board announced the closure of Talbot House last month citing the sudden resignation of an interim executive director.
Abbass said in his statement Tuesday he was saddened by the closure of Talbot House and recognizes that it has caused suffering for many others.