Former priest maintains he’s innocent of sex offences: lawyer

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MonctonTimes & Transcript

02 February 2015

CRAIG BABSTOCK Times & Transcript

February 2, 2015

Arsenault Times & Transcript 02 February 2015
 

 

 

 

 

Yvon Arsenault leaves the Moncton Law Courts on Monday after a brief court appearance.
Photo: GREG AGNEW/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT

Retired Catholic priest Yvon Arsenault maintains he’s innocent of the sexual allegations he’s facing, according to his lawyer.

And while Arsenault plans to go to trial on the 17 charges, that might not happen for another year.

“It won’t take place until January of 2016 at the earliest,” said defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux, at the Moncton Law Courts on Monday.

Lemieux and Arsenault were before Moncton Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Stephen McNally to set trial dates. The accused has elected to be tried by judge and jury and the matter is expected to take five weeks.

The court proposed the trial take place Nov. 17 to Dec. 18, but while those dates were acceptable for Crown prosecutor Annie St. Jacques, they were not good for the defence.

The matter will return to court at a later date to confirm trial dates.

Lemieux explained outside the courtroom that those November-December dates will likely still be used.

“We anticipate some pretty lengthy pre-trial motions in this, but I can’t let the cat out of the bag just yet,” he said.

Arsenault refused to speak to the Times & Transcript outside court. The lawyer was asked if the former priest intends to go to trial and defend himself against the allegations.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” said Lemieux.

He was also asked if Arsenault is maintaining his innocence in relation to the allegations he molested seven boys decades ago.

“Absolutely,” said the lawyer.

Arsenault, 71, is accused of committing the offences against boys in different communities from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s.

He’s accused of indecently assault a male on or between Jan. 1, 1971 and Dec. 31 1972, at or near Shediac.

He’s accused of committing indecent assault and gross indecency against a boy in Shediac on Dec. 18, 1971.

Arsenault is accused of committing indecent assault and gross indecency against a boy in Collette and Rosaireville — south of Miramichi — between Jan. 1, 1976 and Dec. 31, 1978.

He’s accused of committing indecent assault and gross indecency against another boy in those two communities and Shediac between Jan. 1, 1971 and Dec. 31, 1974.

He’s accused of committing indecent assault and gross indecency against another boy in Shediac between Jan. 1, 1972 and Dec. 31, 1972.

He’s accused of committing gross indecency and sexual assault against another boy in Collette between June 1, 1980 and June 31, 1984.

Arsenault is also accused of three counts of indecently assaulting and three counts of committing gross indecency on the same boy between Nov. 1, 1973 and Dec. 31, 1974.

Arsenault had been a priest in several different New Brunswick communities, but he was most recently a Moncton-based priest at Saint Augustine’s Church and St. Michael’s Church. He was removed from the ministry July 4, 2012, and retired that same month.

The Archdiocese of Moncton sent out a news release on Jan. 2, 2013, announcing that Arsenault was one of two priests suspended indefinitely from all ministry following allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Michel Bastarache brought the allegations to the attention of the archdiocese. The allegations were made to him during the archdiocese’s independent reconciliation and compensation process for victims of sexual abuse.

In a news release, the RCMP said they started the investigation in December 2012 as the result of a complaint.

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