05 November 2010
By Jason Miller
A Belleville provincial court judge ordered that the former Niagara area priest, who in March pleaded guilty to three counts of gross indecency, be released from the Napanee area jail, where he has been housed since he was arrested by Prince Edward County OPP on Oct. 6.
Clad in a navy blue jacket and dress pants, a frail looking Grecco was escorted into the courtroom by two court officers. The 70-year-old St. Catharines man sat in the prisoner’s dock and only spoke when he was addressed by Justice Stephen Hunter.
Grecco was denied bail on several occasion since his arrest, as he was unable to find anybody to vouch for him as a surety if his release was granted.
Crown attorney Jodi Whyte said Grecco was thrown in jail for his failure to reside at the Prince Edward County residence where he was ordered to live. Whyte said Grecco served a “long time on a simple breach,” and she didn’t see the need to hold him in custody any longer.
She said Grecco has provided an address where he would reside overnight following his release, although that address was not released in court.
“That’s the best he can do at this time,” she said. “He’s not required to reside at this address, but he’s required to reside at an address.”
Whyte said Grecco will have to notify police if he decides to leave that residence sometime this weekend for another location where he will stay until his next court appearance in Belleville on Dec.15, to find out his fate on the breach offence.
Whyte would not disclose where any of those addresses would be.
Grecco was returned to the Napanee jail before his release because he had left some of his personal belongings there, including his wallet.
Whyte informed Hunter that Grecco’s lawyer has “advised him not to plea” to the breach charges.
Grecco’s release exposes just the tip of his legal woes as the ex-priest will be sentenced on Dec. 13, for abusing three altar boys, including two at St. Kevin’s in Welland and one at St. Stephen’s in Cayuga, in the 1970s and 1980s.
Grecco’s sentencing in Hamilton on the criminal charges has been delayed three times because of health reasons.
His defence lawyer explaiuned Grecco has colon cancer, for which he underwent surgery on July 12, and also suffers from arthritis, anxiety and colitis requiring routine care and surveillance.
Michael Blum and James Hennessy are two of the victims who were abused some 30 years ago. Both men have filed $3 million lawsuits against the ex-priest.
Blum,of Dunnville Ontario announced in early October that he’s suing Grecco, former bishop James Wingle and the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines for $3 million. Blum was a victim of Grecco in the late 1970s.
In the lawsuit documents filed Blum alleges abuse and negligence. When Blum’s lawyers attempted to serve Grecco with the lawsuit papers, they could not find him as he wasn’t at the address where he was supposed to be.
He was later found and arrested by the Prince Edward County OPP.
Hennessy was a teenage altar boy in Welland when he was sexually molested by Grecco, who was a pastor at St. Kevin’s at the time.
Grecco has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing Hennessy in 1985. Hennessy decided just two weeks after Blum sued that he was going to follow that route as well.
The civil suit claims haven’t been proven in court.
The defence has argued for Grecco to serve his term in the community with strict restrictions, or at the most, get a two-year-less-a-day reformatory sentence.
Some of his release conditions include staying away from areas where children might be such as playgrounds and swimming pools. He is also barred from being around children under the age of 16 unless they are aware of his charges.