Dunnville Chronicle (dunnvillechronicle.com)
Thursday, April 12, 2012 5:33:11 EDT PM
By Maryanne Firth, The Tribune
WELLAND – Convicted child molester and former Roman Catholic priest Donald Grecco is no longer in jail.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has confirmed Grecco is no longer in custody, but the date and terms of his release have not been made public.
“I’m not able to confirm any specific release conditions related to Mr. Grecco as it would be a breach of his privacy under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,” ministry spokesperson Greg Flood wrote in an e-mail to The Tribune.
In March 2010 Grecco 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.
In December 2010 Ontario Superior Court Judge Kathryn Hawke sentenced Grecco to 18 months behind bars and two years’ probation. He was scheduled to serve his time in a Brampton jail.
As a result of his charges, Grecco, now in his early 70s, is on the national sex offender registry and his DNA is on file.
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police website, the database provides Canadian police services with important information that will improve their ability to investigate crimes of sexual nature.
It is not accessible by the public, however, leaving Grecco’s whereabouts upon release still unknown to the general public.
Grecco, who was first arrested for his crimes in 2008, previously 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 in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Stephen’s in Cayuga. He was ordained in 1966.
He has many health problems, including cancer and colitis — two life-threatening ailments — as well as arthritis, hypertension and anxiety.
Two of Grecco’s victims — Dunnville’s Michael Blum and former Welland resident James Hennessy — launched civil lawsuits in 2010 against the St. Catharines native, the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines and its former bishop, James Wingle. Each lawsuit is in the amount of $3 million.
In a move that shocked the diocese, Wingle resigned from his position as bishop by letter on April 7, 2010. He has not been heard from publicly since.
In the resignation letter, Wingle said he no longer has the stamina required to be the bishop of a diocese, asked for understanding of his shortcomings and said he is taking a sabbatical focused on “prayer and personal renewal.”
That same day, Pope Benedict XVI accepted Wingle’s resignation due to unknown health issues. It is not known if Wingle’s resignation was related in any way to the Grecco case.
Wingle’s whereabouts also remain unknown to the public.
“I have had brief contact with Bishop Wingle,” said the current head of the St. Catharines Diocese, Bishop Gerard Bergie, in an e-mail response when an interview was requested.
“He continues to focus on his spiritual and personal well-being.
“Respecting his desire for privacy, there is nothing more that I can add to what has already been stated.”