House arrest for disgraced priest

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The Sudbury Star

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 5:55:28 EST AM


The six-month house arrest, to which William “Hod” Marshall was sentenced this week in two historic cases of sexual abuse against Saskatchewan residents, was no sentence at all, says a civil lawyer representing victims of the Basilian priest.

Rob Talach, of London-based Ledroit Beckett Litigation Lawyers, was one of 70 people who protested outside the Ontario Court of Justice in Windsor on Monday, calling for criminal courts to hand down harsher sentences to child sex offenders.

Marshall, 90, was a teacher and principal at St. Charles College in Sudbury for years, and several of the 17 victims Talach is representing in civil suits are from Sudbury.

In 2011, in what Talach called a “sweetheart deal” struck between the Crown and Marshall’s defence, the priest was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to 17 cases of sexual assault against former students.

Marshall served 16 months in prison — “less than a month per kid” — Talach said of the 17 victims the priest admitted abusing.

Part of the deal was no more sexual abuse charges could be laid against Marshall in Ontario, Talach said Tuesday.

Under a deal worked out between the attorney general of Saskatchewan and Ontario courts, the two cases of indecent assault against teenage boys in the western province were heard in Windsor, where other criminal charges against Marshall were handled.

Talach said he has sent other alleged victims to police in different jurisdictions to file complaints against Marshall, and they have been told no more charges will be laid against the priest.

“He’s got a get out of free jail card in Ontario,” said Talach.

The house arrest Marshall is serving will cause no change in his life, said Talach. “He’s going to hang around the Basilian centre anyway,” where he says three other offenders reside.

“So, he’s going to play gin rummy and euchre with these other sex offenders. It’s really no punishment.”

Talach said the judge in these charges, Justice Lloyd Dean, “in the face of this public outcry” from victims protesting outside the court, gave the priest six months of house arrest.

About half the protesters were sex abuse victims, three of them victims of Marshall, said Talach. One of those three “should never have been a victim” if the order to which Marshall belongs had acted upon earlier complaints of sexual misconduct against him.

Protesters were trying to deliver three messages to the justice system and to the public, said the lawyer. The first was “sex crime equals real time,” said Talach. “That was the message for the day. ‘Look, give this guy some meaningful time’ ” in prison.

Protesters also called upon courts to “criminalize coverup” in churches and other institutions, making them criminally accountable for the actions of their priests.

“Let’s get some laws on the books so we can go after corporations,” said Talach.

A third theme was: “Stop the secrets. Speak out against sexual abuse,” said Talach. “The only way we’re going to cure this is to get it out in the open.”

A frustrated Talach said he concluded, Monday, the justice system is “so broken,” he doesn’t know how to fix it.

Even though many people believe a priest or anyone in a position of authority should serve jail time for sexual assaults, courts look back on precedents, some as far back as the 1980s, when sentences for sex crimes were light.

“There is no question … we want to see sex offenders go to jail,” said Talach. “So how did our criminal justice system become so disconnected from the man on the street?”

Countries prosecute war criminals who are older than Marshall, said Talach, putting them in jail.

“I don’t consider these guys that much different.”

He called the six-month house arrest “a slap in the face” to the Saskatchewan victims.

The Order of St. Basil did not reply to an email placed by The Star asking for comment on the Marshall sentencing. Twitter: @Carol_Mulligan

5 Responses to House arrest for disgraced priest

  1. Sylvia says:

    Good article. This gets to the other arm of the clerical sex abuse crisis, a judiciary which is soft on child sexual abuse and a justice system which is broken, In truth, calling it a justice system is a misnomer. It’s a legal system.

    Ah yes, the sweet deal afforded Father William Hodgson Marshall.

    I know one victim who went to police with his allegations against Hod Marshall. The police investigated. Charges were recommended. The file went to the Crown. the Crown was set to proceed. Then – uh oh – oops! Surprise. Surprise. Whether or not charges were warranted they could not be laid. And charges could not be laid because of the sweet deal struck by Hod’s lawyer and the Crown: a guilty plea ….and in exchange no more charges against Hod in Ontario.

    How does that feel for a victim who finally summons up the courage to go to police? Where is the justice? Why should any victim face such discrimination and be cast aside?

    Yes, the system is broken. When justice is willfully denied to some, something is seriously amiss.

    This sweet deal could not have happened without a nod of the head from the Ontario Attorney General. There had to be approval at that level.

    Why would any AGs office approve a deal which denies justice to all?

    And then of course the Saskatoon charges. The sweet deal blanketed Ontario. I honestly was sick to my stomach when I discovered the Saskatoon charges had been shipped to Ontario. Yes, the deal there was the charges would be handled in Ontario as long as there was a guilty plea. I don’t know what the deal on sentencing was. I heard that the Sask. Crown wanted nine months. Honest to goodness, after leanring of the Windosr sweet deal I knew in my heart of hearts Hod would not spend another day in jail on those charges. And, he didn’t.

    Age. Well yes. Hod is indeed well on in years. But, should he or any other criminal be rewarded for living a lie and eluding justice for a lifetime? I think not. I’m not being vindictive here. I’m thinking in terms of justice, and I’m thinking in terms of the precedent that is set in court ever time a criminal gets a pat on the back for an 11th hour guilty, a sweet but illogical reward for scoffing at the laws of the land for his entire adult life.

    From a purely religious perspective, I believe Father Hod Marshall is as capable of saving his soul behind bars as at the Cardinal Flahiff Centre with a clutch of other Basilian molesters, perhaps more so? And I think the free hours in jail would allow him to pray every hour of every day for his many victims, both those who have come forward and seen convictions, and those who even today are struggling to deal with the abuse they endured at this priest’s hands, and, yes, those who have been blatantly discriminated against by the office of the Attorney General, Andrew Bradie and the Windsor Crown.

    There are many many facets to the horror of clerical sexual abuse in Canada. A judiciary which is notoriously soft on child abuse – all child sex abuse – is one.

    And, yes, that the Basilians would pay Andrew Brady to wreak such havoc in the courts to favour a molesting priest is another.

    Brady of course would get nowhere if the courts did not do his bidding. If our judiciary treated the sexual abuse of children as the horror that it is, and as they horror that they say it is, Andrew Brady and his ilk would be laughed right out of the courtroom. They are not.

    A sad state of affairs. If our clergy spent half the time talking to and listening to God as they do to lawyers we wouldn’t be in half as bad a mess, at least not in the Church.

  2. PJ says:

    I fear someday someone will pay the price for a judicial system that cares more for the pervert collars and their lawyers than for the victims.

  3. Cyril North says:

    PJ, I hope that some day somebody pays the price. However, under present conditions it does not look likely.
    Why do people still support an institutional church that hides under cover of an inept judicial system. The institutional church is itself no more moral than the biased civil judicial system, where influence and money talks.

  4. PJ says:

    Cyril: I think you answered your own question.

  5. william palmer says:

    Way back when in the summer of 1974 I was introduced by Marshall and Janise to a good friend of Jerry Lougheed Junior here in Sudbury on the basketball court located way down Long Lake road. He had just completed grade 12 at Saint Michaels in Toronto. Handsome fellow, muscular build, five ten, brown hair, only got his first name–Bruno. He did not return to Saint Michaels. Anyone in the Toronto Basilian community remember this guys last name?

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