N.B. priest who molested boys sentenced to four years in prison
Published Friday, February 24, 2017 11:05AM AST
Last Updated Friday, February 24, 2017 7:25PM AST
A retired Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to molestation has been sentenced to four years in prison.
The charges were laid against Yvon Arsenault in connection with incidents involving boys under the age of 18, dating back to the 1970s. The first incident happened in 1971 in Shediac, N.B.
Arsenault pleaded guilty to nine counts of molestation. Eleven other counts were withdrawn following his guilty plea.
Court heard Friday that Arsenault molested a young boy at a camp and that he supplied alcohol to three boys with whom he was playing cards in a separate incident.
Some people in the courtroom became emotional as Crown prosecutor Eric Lalonde reviewed facts of the crimes committed by Arsenault, and as his victims read their impact statements.
One saying, “Yvon, you touched me… now it’s over, you will never touch me again.”
Jean-Louis Pitre was one of the victims to speak in court; he asked that the publication ban on his name be lifted.
“So that I could be here and speak with you, and let people know that it’s important to go out and ask for help if this has happened to you,” says Pitre.
Pitre says being able to confront his abuser was emotional, but also therapeutic.
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“I haven’t seen him face to face in over 20 years, so for me to look at him and tell him how I felt, because of what he did, was indeed very much of a relief.”
One victim said in his statement that he had to see a psychologist because he suffered from depression and had suicidal thoughts, while another said that he started drinking at the age of 12 and dropped out of school.
Arsenault sat silently and showed no emotion as the statements were read.
Before sentencing, Judge Zoel Dionne gave Arsenault the opportunity to address the court. He did, saying, “I can’t change the past but I want to tell the victims and their families I regret all the pain I have caused.”
The crown and defence agreed to a recommended four year sentence for Arsenault.
“We came to something that we thought was a balance,” says defence attorney Gilles Lemieux.
The judge accepted the recommendation, sentencing Arsenault to four years in prison.
Arsenault will also be on the sex offender registry for 20 years.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis