Defrock bad priests: Sex abuse victims

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The Sudbury Star

Friday, October 19, 2012 8:12:34 EDT PM

Carol Mulligan


Ted Holland (left), Jerome Myre, Rob Talach and Robert Roussel are calling upon the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie to defrock priests convicted of sexually assaulting children and provide funding for counselling for their victims. (Carol Mulligan/The Sudbury Star)</p>

Ted Holland (left), Jerome Myre, Rob Talach and Robert Roussel are calling upon the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie to defrock priests convicted of sexually assaulting children and provide funding for counselling for their victims. (Carol Mulligan/The Sudbury Star)

The lawyer representing 15 men who allege they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests is demanding the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie take a “trinity” of actions to help his clients get over their pain.
Rob Talach is calling upon the diocese and its spiritual leader, Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe, to begin the process of defrocking priests who are convicted sexual offenders, to create a diocesan sexual abuse policy with input from victims and to pay for counselling for men who were abused.

Talach, from London-based Ledroit Beckett Litigation lawyers, was joined at a news conference Friday by four Sudbury men who were victims of two of six priests convicted criminally of sexual abuse dating back 50 years in Sudbury.

Talach lambasted the diocese and Plouffe for not taking a proactive approach to helping these men by funding counselling before the civil cases he has launched for the men are dealt with in court.

“Up here, this diocese, it’s the middle ages,” Talach said Friday at the Radisson Hotel on St. Anne’s Road, a stone’s throw from the diocese’s office across the street.

Dioceses such as London, whose bishop is Sudbury-born Ronald Fabbro, are offering counselling or funding for counselling to victims, without prejudice, so it doesn’t affect civil legal actions in which the two sides are involved, said Talach.

Talach called upon the diocese to do more — “actually just do something” — to help his clients get over the abuse they suffered at the hands of priests who worked in Sudbury.

The victims are calling for Bernard Cloutier, Donald Holmes, William Hodgson “Hod” Marshall, Thomas O’Dell, Gerald Roy and John E. Sullivan to be defrocked. All but Marshall, who is a member of the Basilian order, were employed by the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie when they sexually assaulted young victims.

Talach pointed to the case of Cloutier, who was convicted in 2011 and is serving time in a federal penitentiary.

“He’s a priest in good standing with this diocese?” asked Talach. “How can you have that contradiction?”

Two of Cloutier’s victims, who testified at his criminal trial, attended the news conference and spoke about how counselling would help them move forward in life.

Jerome Myre, 42, who was 11 when he was abused by Cloutier, told reporters:

“Counselling seems to be in endless supply” for priests who have abused children. A conductor/engineer with CP Rail, Myre can access counselling as part of his benefits at work.

Robert Roussell, 45, isn’t as lucky. A self-employed furnace technician, he has to pay for weekly counselling at a rate of $85 an hour.

After Friday’s news conference, Roussel said the demands on the diocese move him “another little inch towards closure. And it gets the word out there and brings other victims forward.”

Ted Holland, 57, and Denis Beland, 55, were about 14 when they were sexually abused by Marshall, who taught for years at St. Charles College.

Marshall, 89, was sentenced in June 2011 to two years in Kingston Penitentiary after pleading guilty to 17 charges of indecent assault, six involving Sudbury men.

Marshall has been released from prison and is living in Toronto, said Talach.

Talach will meet with lawyers for the diocese Nov. 22-23 regarding the civil lawsuits against Cloutier and with lawyers representing Marshall’s Basilian order Dec. 3-4 for examination in discovery.

Talach used a harsh analogy to illustrate how he believes the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and Plouffe have dealt with wayward priests.

The lawyer likened the situation to a priest plowing with his car into a street full of children, hitting “all kinds of them,” injuring and killing many of them.

At the same time, the priest hits his head against the dashboard and sustains a bump.

“The bishop rushes in and gets the priest to the hospital and leaves all those kids in the street,” charged Talach. “That is exactly what is happening right now. These are children, laying in the street bleeding, and the bishop’s triaging the priest.”

Rev. Bob Bourgon is vicar-general for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, and is acting as its spokesman while Plouffe is in Rome attending the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, a 17th century native American woman.

Bourgon questioned whether it would be a responsible step for the diocese to essentially cut loose offending priests, defrocking them and severing ties.

If the church did that, it would have no way of monitoring and trying to prevent further criminal activity.

“We have some suasion,” said Bourgon. “If we cut them loose, we have no suasion.”

Bourgon said his diocese, and most in North America, have sexual abuse policies. At one time, the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie did pay for counselling for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

But the diocese is caught between the “rock and a hard place dealing with lawyers and insurance companies,” waiting for civil cases to proceed after criminal convictions are obtained, he said.

So, while the church does offer help to victims, it can only implement that policy “once the legalities are done.

“Without prejudice would be fine,” said Bourgon, “but it doesn’t exist, unfortunately.”

Twitter @Carol_Mulligan

7 Responses to Defrock bad priests: Sex abuse victims

  1. Sylvia says:

    Well done Jerome, Ted, Robert and Deny.  Yes, the diocese should be paying for your counselling and that of every other victims of clerical sexual abuse in the Diocese of Sault Ste, Marie.  I firmly believe that if the diocese cared about and wanted to look after you, they would find a way to do so, never mind the legalities.

    Good analogy Rob re the bishop triaging the priest while the children lie ont he street bleeding.  Excellent analogy!

    Note Vicar General Bob Bourgon’s statement that if these molesters were to be defrockeed there would be no way of monitoring them and trying to prevent further criminal activity:

    I mentioned recently that some canon lawyers seem to be in overdrive theses days.  Here is a prime example.  This is becoming a routine response to calls for defrocking.  Whether it’s a bishop or a Vicar General or Chancellor they all seem to be singing from the same song sheet.

    For starters we know that Church officials have done an abysmal job of monitoring molesters period.

    We also know many an example of molesters who are out and about on their own these days.  Only days ago I passed on news that Father William White in the Archdiocese of Edmonton essentially comes and goes as he pleases. Many if nt most are NOT being monitored 24/7.

    Who pray tell in any diocese is going to monitor these men 214/7?  And that is what it takes – eyes on them 24/7.

    But, all of that aside, these men do NOT belong in the priesthood.  This is no more than a   frantic yet illogical effort to convince the troubles masses that clerical molesters should not be defrocked.

    I said some time ago when I first saw this attempt to circle the wagons coming that these clerical molesters must be defrocked.  If diocesan officials really want to keep vigil on their every move, so be it.  Revise the Code of Canon Law to allow for a more expeditious defrocking and then work out some deal whereby all those who have been defrocked are housed together somewhere on the outskirts of town, and assign a priest or two to keep vigil 24/7, and work at getting the souls of these ex-priests in order to meet their Maker. I don;t know the exact logistics, but, if that’s what they want to do, go for it,  BUT – defrock the predatory clergy

    It’s so very simple.  Clerical sexual predators must be defrocked,  The priesthood must be purged of these wolves in sheep’s clothing – their continued presence is an insult to God.

  2. PJ says:

    Congratulations for your bravery in stepping forward and becoming more public…if I lived near enough to there I would have been sitting alongside of you guys, no problem. Hopefully press conferences like this will keep the abuse issues alive and bring more survivors out to continue putting pressure on the diocese. That was an excellent analogy that Rob used…and it appears to be true, at least in my experience. All convicted collars need to be defrocked so further charges would not involve that church. Once they are convicted, are they also placed on the federal abuse registry, have their DNA taken in case future cases happen, or are collars granted immunity from the sexual offenders list too? As convicted criminals, are they also banned from crossing the border into the US as well? They should be. It would stop serial abusers like these collars from continuing their damage in other countries. C’mon Plouffe, grab a spine and start defrocking these pathetic human beings, and start treating we survivors with a little more respect…than the little respect you currently show. Kudos to you guys and Rob for the publicity!! God bless.

  3. Bandoson says:

    *You four Men stand tall. Thank you for your grace and bravery.

    Now is the time for the “Leaders” of the Church to do the same.I urge Bob Bourgon and other leaders with-in the Diocese of SSM to press Jean-Louis Plouffe for postive action on behalf of these gentlemen. Enough with the hiding behind frocks of religious piety, act for your “People” not against them. The people are watching!


  4. PJ says:

    Excellent words my man! Let’s see if they listen.

  5. Michel Bertrand says:

    *Darn right in sudbury it is the middle ages..I had a doctor compare the establishment in Sudbury to the duplessis years in quebec.. Way to go guys keep their feet to the fire. The plouffes and gludes of this world need to here you loud and clear.

  6. Lina says:

    *These men are courageous! 

    Thank you for coming forward and speaking out.


  7. Louisette Malette says:

    There are so many more innocent victims that did not come forward because of shame put on them by those priests. My nephew was molested by Gerald Roy. My nephew kept to himself, was shy and was a good kid until he became older and turn to drugs and alcool. He never married and had no children. Unfortunately, he passed away 2 years ago Sept. 25, 2017 from a massive heart attack. He died with that awful/horrible secret and took it to his grave!! I had told his father about the priest molesting him. It was very hard on my brother but he chose to respect his son’s wishes by not telling anyone. My nephew wasn’t the only one that was too ashamed to come forward. Those priests destroyed those innocent boys’ lives. Those horrible priests walk freely with their heads high as if they were so pure and holy. God knows the truth and one day those so called priests will come face to face with God and they won’t be able to lie or hurt anyone anymore. It’s not easy going to church and keeping my faith after everything that’s going on with the priests molesting innocent children but my faith is in God and not in mankind. Still it does affect us….families of the abused children. I’m hurting so much as I think about my nephew having to live with such horrible shame put on him by a priest and not being able to talk about it. He must have hurt so much and Roy can walk freely. When priests say they regret what they did, I don’t believe them but I do believe that they regret being caught. Sad for the innocent victims.

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