Victims tell of abuse by former Roman Catholic priest while they were altar boys

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The News (New Glasgow – http://www.ngnews.ca/News/Canada—World/2010-06-03/article-1223926/Victims-tell-of-abuse-by-former-Roman-Catholic-priest-while-they-were-altar-boys/1

Published on June 3rd, 2010

The Canadain Press

HAMILTON, Ont. — A former Roman Catholic priest will return to a Hamilton court next month to be sentenced for molesting southern Ontario teenaged altar boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Donald Grecco, who has pleaded guilty to three counts of gross indecency, to return July 16.

Grecco, 70, served as a parish priest in Cayuga, Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fonthill.

The abuse took place between 1979 and 1985.

Ontario Court Justice Kathryn Hawke heard victim impact statements from all three victims on Thursday.

Court heard the abuse followed a similar pattern, with Grecco befriending the victim’s families, employ the youths to do odd jobs or take them on trips and abusing them once he had them alone.

At the victims’ request Hawke lifted publication bans on the identity of two of the three victims.

Dunnville’s Michael Blum, 46, read his victim impact statement and addressed Grecco personally.

“You were a predator who enjoyed the cloak of the church and you preyed on the very innocence you swore to protect,” he said.

“I have lived and relived every terrible sinful thing you did to me, every day and every night. I have no rest from you, no escape. You consume my thoughts every day and you haunt my nightmares every night,” he said, adding he continues to “smell” his abuser.

James Hennessy was 14 when he was abused as a altar boy at St. Kevin’s Church in Welland.

Crown counsel Gregory Smith read the victim impact statement of Hennessy, who currently lives in England.

“I don’t see the joy and fun in my young children anymore. I have become distant from my friends. I don’t feel I can talk about this part of my life with them. I have become distant and lonely,” he wrote.

The third victim, whose name is protected by the publication ban, was an alter boy at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Cayuga.

Grecco received permission from the victim’s mother to take him on a fishing trip to a cottage.

Once at the cottage, Grecco pushed the boy onto a bed before climbing on top of him and performing a humping motion.

The victim’s mother read a tearful victim impact statement in which she talked about her guilt for allowing Grecco to take her son “through hell.”

“How much pain and suffering can I person cause for so many? God gave me a beautiful you boy to love through their life and I failed him,” she said, bursting into sobs.

The victims each received a copy of a 1 1/2-page handwritten apology letter from Grecco yesterday.

“It wasn’t addressed to anyone. It just said he was sorry. It’s a moot point,” Blum said outside of court.

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