[ Previous article in this series series: “Trail of abuse stretched across country“]
by Kevin Donovan Toronto Star
EDMONTON – Capt. Angus McRae‘s 1980 court martial for child sex abuse ended his career in the military.
It did not end his career as a priest.
Last year, McRae, 62, was convicted of two sexual assaults on young boys while serving as a priest in Scarborough, where he’d been transferred after leaving the military.
The Metro police detective who investigated the Scarborough case, Sergeant George Pope, said he was surprised that McRae’s military conviction did not prevent him from acting as a parish priest.
“The church knew about it and they still put him back into the system,” Pope said in an interview.
As soon as complaints were raised against McRae in 1989, however, church officials in Scarborough passed them on to children’s aid officials, says Rev. Edward Boehler, Judicial Vicar for the Toronto Archdiocese.
Boehler said it was up to the Edmonton Archdiocese to explain why McRae was transferred to Scarborough. Church officials in Edmonton would not talk to The Star.
McRae began his career as a priest in 1954 and worked at several Alberta parishes.
In 1968, he was transferred from an Olds church to a parish in Bashaw. Before the transfer took effect, he joined the Canadian Armed Forces to serve as an army chaplain.
McRae served both at Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis in Nova Scotia and CFB Edmonton, Lancaster Park.
But on June 28, 1980, military police at CFB Edmonton arrested McRae.
Military records at the Judge Advocate General’s office in Ottawa show that three youths, aged 10 to 15, complained McRae sexually assaulted them in the base chapel.
The charges included buggery, fellatio and masturbation of the youths, between Oct. 31, 1978, and May 23, 1980.
McRae pleaded guilty at his court martial and was sentenced to four years in the CFB Edmonton military prison, a sentence reduced on appeal to 18 months.
After serving 10 months in prison, McRae was released and given a dishonorable discharge.
The Edmonton Archdiocese sent him to Southdown in Aurora, a residential counselling centre for priests. His treatment included injections of Cyproterone Acetate, a medication given to reduce sex drive.
After leaving Southdown, McRae was posted by the church to St. Thomas More Church in Scarborough as associate pastor.
In May of last year, McRae was again charged with sexual assaults on youngsters, after police received complaints he had fondled two brothers, aged 12 and 14.
On July 21, he pleaded guilty to the charges in Scarborough Provincial Court.
A court transcript shows McRae “began paying a lot of attention” to the older brother in July, 1988. He’d take him bowling and golfing. At night, McRae would visit the boy and his brother at their home, “talk about things like erections and masturbation,” and stay very late while the boys’ parents were in another room.
Transcripts show McRae started squeezing the older boy’s buttocks, something that aggravated him enough to tell the priest to “keep his hands to himself.”
Then McRae turned his attention to the younger boy.
Eventually, church officials were notified and passed the complaints on to the Catholic Children’s Aid Society.
In McRae’s defence, lawyer Frank Morrocco said McRae had failed to take his sex-drive-inhibiting medication during the period the assaults occurred.
Judge A. Davidson sentenced McRae to three years’ probation and ordered him not to have contact with anyone under 18 years of age unless in the presence of an adult.
McRae is now attached to the Edmonton Archdiocese, but church officials won’t say what work he is doing.
Shortly after his conviction, McRae wrote a letter to his former parishioners, saying he was innocent of the charges: “As much as I hated it and against my conscience and to save families further embarrassment I took it on the chin.”
By way of explanation, McRae said the boys and their parents were “extremely introverted” and he was spending time with the oldest brother to help him “out of his shell.”
McRae wrote that he remembers putting his arm around the youth a few times, but nothing more.
McRae also says he was originally going to plead not guilty, but changed his mind when police and crown counsel said several other youths, some girls, had come forward with similar complaints.
[Read final article in series “Sexual assaults by priest cost church $150,000″]