Priest’s name struck from village arena following sexual abuse allegations

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The Toronto Star

Published On Tue Mar 13 2012

Richard J. BrennanNational Affairs Writer

The name on the local arena in the French language New Brunswick village of Cap-Pelé was a constant reminder of a time that town residents and victims of the late Father Camille Léger would rather forget.

While memories can’t be erased, council decided to do the next best thing Monday and that was remove Léger name from the front of the arena in the village where he was priest from 1959 to the 1980s.

While Léger, who died 22 years ago, was never charged with sexual assault, even the Catholic Church is convinced that several in the small southeastern fishing village were victimized by him during his tenure there.

As it turns out, when Cap-Pelé residents were told last week they would be asked in a May 14 plebiscite if they wanted to change the name of the local arena, several people came forward with allegations of sexual abuse.

That and the fact Archbishop André Richard attended two masses over the weekend and apologized for Léger’s actions was more than enough for the local council to decide not to wait a minute more to remove the sign.

“It was the least we could do for the victims,” Cap-Pelé Deputy Mayor Hector Doiron told the Toronto Star.

Cap-Pelé, just southeast of Shediac, has a population of about 2,400.

The six-member village council took only about 22 minutes to make its decision and agreed the sign should be removed Tuesday morning.

“But the people (attending the meetings) were so anxious of getting the name off, they asked that it be done last night so the volunteer and employees who were there said, ‘look we’ll take it down right now’ and they did,” he said, adding the name has been changed to Arena de Cap-Pelé.

Doiron said even when the arena was named after Léger in 1987 the whispers and innuendos began spreading but no one came forward, so the name change was made with little fanfare.

He said when victims started coming forward and the Archbishop confirmed that Léger had committed these acts “it was no longer a question of going to a plebiscite, council felt that decision had to be made quickly to alleviate the pain all of this is having on the victims.”

“It’s like a wound that been reopened but at least now it can heal,” Doiron said.

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