Ex-priest Grecco gets 18 months in prison

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The Wolf In Prieist’s Clothing: Epilogue

The Welland Tribune

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 6:25:14 EDT PM

By Grant LaFleche, The Standard

Ex-Catholic priest Donald Grecco walks into the St. Catharines court house Tuesday. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the sexual abuse of three boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ex-Catholic priest Donald Grecco walks into the St. Catharines court house Tuesday. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the sexual abuse of three boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

There was no forgiveness in William O’Sullivan’s heart Tuesday for the priest who sexually abused him as a child. But there was empathy as he watched Donald Grecco be led away from a St. Catharines courtroom to serve the next 18 months of his life in prison.

“I know where he is going. I know what it is like, so I have some empathy. I’m human,” said O’Sullivan, who has served time in prison. “But when they led him away and got the handcuffs out, that was good to see.”

Justice Joseph Nadel sentenced Grecco to 18 months in prison, with three years of parole after his time is served, for three counts of gross indecency for the sexual abuse of three boys from 1975 to 1982.

Nadel also ordered Grecco’s DNA be recorded for the national sex offender registry and banned him for life from attending public places where those under 16 are likely to be, including public parks, school grounds and community centres.

Grecco is also forbidden from contacting people under 16 in any fashion whatsoever and after his release will have to stay half a kilometre away from his victims.

Grecco, who came to court wearing a winter jacket and a black toque, did not speak during the hearing and looked at the ground as he was being led away by court officers.

Grecco pleaded guilty to the charges in May. This is his second conviction for sexually abusing children while he was a Catholic priest. In 2010, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for abusing three boys.

Several times during his Tuesday ruling, Nadel said he “regretted” that he wasn’t giving Grecco a longer sentence. The judge said Grecco pleaded guilty on the understanding that he would receive an 18-month sentence, and that guilty plea saved the community time and money that would have been consumed at a trial.

During a sentencing hearing last month, Grecco’s lawyer Robert Yanch asked for an 18-month sentence while assistant Crown attorney Pat Vadacchino asked Nadel to put the ex-priest behind bars for three years.

On Tuesday Nadel said Grecco was a “pathetic” man who abused his position of authority as a priest. Whatever momentary pleasure Grecco got by abusing children ruined the lives of six people, he said.

“Your victims will carry with them the scars of what you have done, and it would be befitting if you carried similar marks,” Nadel said.

Two of the victims — who cannot be named under a court-ordered publication ban — were assaulted by Grecco in Niagara Falls. They were both abused at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, and one of them was also assaulted in churches in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Pelham.

The third victim, O’Sullivan, was assaulted in St. Kevin’s church in Welland.

Grecco fondled the boys, masturbated them, made them masturbate him and, in the case of one boy, fellated his victim.

During the September hearing, the court heard about the long-term impacts the abuse had on Grecco’s victims.

O’Sullivan’s was abused by Grecco between the ages of 9 and 12. He did not speak up at the time because Grecco told him that if he did, O’Sullivan’s mother would be kicked out of the church.

He was abused by another priest in Niagara, and eventually sent to St. John’s Training School for Boys in Uxbridge, where he was repeatedly sexually abused by one of the Christian Brothers running the school.

O’Sullivan eventually turned to crime, serving five prison terms.

In the victim impact statement he made during the September hearing, O’Sullivan said he is responsible for bad decisions he has made, but the abuse he suffered at Grecco’s hands set him on the path.

“What potential did I lose because this happened to me?” O’Sullivan said outside the courthouse Tuesday. “What would my life have been like if this wasn’t done to me?”

O’Sullivan, who first came forward about the abuse while he as in jail in 2010, said he wanted a longer prison term for Grecco, but says he has gained a degree of closure nevertheless.

“In terms of closure from when I came forward about what happened to me in 2010 to today seeing him lead off to prison, that is a sense of closure,” said O’Sullivan, who arrived in court with several supporters Tuesday, including his two children. “But it doesn’t take away what happened. You have to learn to live with it.”

O’Sullivan said with the Grecco case over, he intends to pursue a civil lawsuit against the church.

“We got some criminal justice today, but now I have to look after my life,” he said. “This also motivates me to do more to change the system. I really want to see better programs in prison for men who have suffered sexual assault.”

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Twitter: @grantrants

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