26 November 2010
By JOHN VESSOYAN/Tribune Staff
HAMILTON — A Crown attorney says Donald Grecco belongs in a federal penitentiary for up to four years.
“Jail is the way these cases are handled,” Gregory Smith said Friday afternoon at the John Sopinka Courthouse in Hamilton.
Court heard the Crown’s submissions in the case of Grecco, a former Roman Catholic priest who in March pleaded guilty to three counts of gross indecency after he sexually abused three teenaged altar boys in the 1970s and parts of the 1980s in Welland and Cayuga.
The Crown wants Grecco to serve between two-and-a-half and four years in prison. It also wants him to be on the national sex offenders’ registry and have his DNA on file.
The defence, led by lawyer Brian Donnelly, is seeking a conditional sentence to be served in the community or, at most, a prison term of two years less a day.
Smith listed some details of the assaults committed on the boys by Grecco. The St. Catharines man was alone with each one of his victims and forced them onto a bed, laid on top of them and delivered a humping motion before he ejaculated.
In one case, Grecco put his penis on the face of a victim, however no oral sex was performed, Smith told the court.
Play wrestling would also lead to molestation, he said, adding all of the acts were premeditated.
In all three cases, he befriended the victim and their families, who were all devote parishioners.
Smith argued that Grecco violated one of the most sacred relationships — between a pastor and an altar boy. He said the assaults at the hands of Grecco have had a “devastating and lasting impact on the victims and their families.” He said the victims have been living in their own prison and hell for the past 30 years.
“He violated their trust. This was a man among vulnerable, naïve boys. His selfishness has all but destroyed three men,” Smith said.
The defence said Grecco has been clean for the past 25 years and isn’t a risk to re-offend. However, the Crown didn’t buy that argument.
“The passage of time doesn’t impact the gravity of the offence,” Smith said.
Donnelly said his client suffers from cancer and colitis — two life-threatening ailments — and is better off receiving proper care out in society rather than in prison. Grecco also has arthritis, hypertension, anxiety and a sore back.
The admitted molester sat beside his lawyer during the proceedings. He was wearing eye glasses, a blue jacket and dark pants, and was constantly taking notes.
Grecco served as a pastor at St. Mary’s and St. Kevin’s churches in Welland, St. Alexander in Fonthill, St. George’s in Crystal Beach, St. Thomas More in Niagara Falls, St. Vincent de Paul on Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Stephen’s in Cayuga. He was ordained in 1966.
His sentencing has been changed to Dec. 13.
Two of Grecco’s victims — Dunnville’s Michael Blum and former Welland resident James Hennessy — have launched lawsuits against their tormentor, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines and its former bishop James Wingle. Each lawsuit is in the amount of $3 million, but have not been proven in court.
Only one victim, who can’t be named because of a publication ban, was in court to hear the Crown’s arguments.
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