Sask. Roman Catholic priest sexual assault charge stayed

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Father Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar will not have a criminal record

Meadow Lake Court

Cortazar left Court of Queen’s Bench today in Meadow Lake without a criminal record. (Credit: Google Street View)

A stay of proceedings has been granted in a sexual assault case against a Roman Catholic priest who served three rural parishes in northwestern Saskatchewan.

Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar

Cortazar is currently listed as being “on leave” by the Diocese of Prince Albert. (Credit: Diocese of Prince Albert)

Father Javier De Los Angeles Cortazar, 48, was charged in 2014 after an incident at a cabin near Goodsoil, Sask. The alleged victim’s name was subject to a publication ban.

On the second day of Cortazar’s trial this week in Meadow Lake, defence lawyer George Green asked the complainant what Cortazar had said to him during a subsequent confession.

The man refused to answer.

Justice Gary Meschishnick ruled the complainant had to answer Green`s question. When no answer was forthcoming, the Crown applied to have the proceedings stayed.

A stay means the Crown has 12 months to bring the charge back, but in practice that rarely happens.

Cortazar left court today without a criminal record.

“He was relieved to have the charge stayed,” said Green.

Since 2014, Cortazar has presided over weekly services and sacraments for parishioners in Goodsoil, Loon Lake and Pierceland.

The Diocese of Prince Albert’s website currently lists Cortazar as “on leave.”

No one from the diocese has returned CBC’s calls for comment.

St. Antoninus Roman Catholic Church Pierceland

Fr. Cortazar presided over services at St. Antoninus Roman Catholic Church in Pierceland, and also served parishes in Loon Lake and Goodsoil, Sask. (Credit: Google Street View)

6 Responses to Sask. Roman Catholic priest sexual assault charge stayed

  1. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    What happens in Rome, stays in Rome. How convenient for the good Father!
    I guess my point here is that the assault apparently did not happen during confession, so why bring up “the seal of confession”?
    Perhaps Father did in fact hear the other priest’s confession. That doesn’t mean that the incident never took place, does it?
    Is it entirely possible, given the lack of information from the diocese, that the reigning bishop has silenced the two priests? Mike.

  2. John McKiggan says:

    The priest witness could have told the court that he was not permitted to answer unless Cortazar waived the confidentiality of the confessional. If Cortazar refused to do so, the the Crown could have asked the court to draw an adverse inference against Cortazar. That should have avoided a stay.

    • Sylvia says:

      The penitent can not waive the seal. Even if he tried to do so the priest confessor can not even acknowledge that he heard the confession of that individual never mind discuss the confession itself. The seal is inviolable.

      I truly think this was a set-up. Defence and his client Cortazar knew very well that the complainant would be unable to respond. It worked. Cortazar walked. If Cortazar was half the priest he apparently professes to be he would have refused to allow this line of questioning in his defence.

      This goes to the character of the man. It is a reprehensible defence tactic. Chances are in fact that Cortazar never went to to the complainant for confession in the first place.

      • Sylvia says:

        Add to the above the fact that the penitent is always free to talk about his or her own confesion. He/she needs no waiver to do so. The seal applies only to the confessor (and those, for example, acting as interpretors).

  3. Anonymous says:

    Fact is that the case was based around this: It was stated that charges were as such – Fr. Cortazar ADMITTED he committed a sexual act against the victim. Defence was trying to say that the act was consensual between Cortazar and the victim. The jury’s job was to make the decision whether it was consensual or not.

    Fact is that Cortazar was in active service right from the time the victim made the complaint in 2014 till approx Jan. 2017. Suddenly he was taken out of service but was still allowed to live in the parish home in Goodsoil, SK.

    Fact is the that Bishop Albert Thevenot and the Nuncio knew that Cortazar admitted to this sexual act and still allowed Cortazar to practice till Jan. 2017. Unbelievable!!!

    Fact is that the victim refused to reveal a confession Cortazar said to him so that he would not break his solemn vows and risk being excommunicated. This shows integrity and credibility of the victim. Proud of him

    Fact is that approx 30 parishioners of Cortazar were in the courtroom and when the court stayed the proceedings they clapped. More unbelievablely in the foyer before leaving the court house they began to sing “For he is a jolly good fellow”. They were told to leave the court house.

    Fact is that on the second day of trial during a recess when the judge and crown prosecutor and victim were out of the court room the defence lawyer turned to the audience and said something to the effect ” Those of you who are here to support Javier, maybe you’d like to move to this seating area of the court room.”

    Opinion:

    The Bishop knew from June 2014 that Cortazar committed this sexual act. Cortazar has been able to continue service like he has done nothing wrong. The Bishop is not protecting his flock (children, elderly, disabled and healthy adults).

    Don’t think that all Catholics think this is OK. Absolutely NOT!!! Are the Catholic Bishops, Nuncio, Cardinals, Pope curropt.

    Sure makes one think deeply 🙁

  4. Lynn Klemmer says:

    The response in the courtroom by the Parishioners just goes to show how ignorant these small town people really are. He was NOT found innocent yet that is how they perceived it.
    The way the Church dealt with this just goes to show that they are trying to hide another sexual crime by another one of their clergies.
    Fact is that the victim swore on the Bible that his testimony was true but Cortazar never swore his innocence on the Bible.
    I left this trial in tears knowing that I could no longer trust the Roman Catholic Church.

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