One of Barry McGrory’s alleged victims told senior officials in the Catholic Church about the priest’s sexual abuse in the late 1960s or early 1970s, court has heard.
The victim, who cannot be identified by court order, complained to the then archbishop about being molested by McGrory in the bedroom of the priest’s home at St. Philip Church in Richmond.
The youth had gone there with six others to watch a football game with McGrory, but when he began to suffer the effects of a migraine, the priest gave him an Aspirin. He went to lie down in an upstairs bedroom and when he woke up sometime later, a man was fondling his genitals.
He believed that man was McGrory, court heard, and he subsequently complained about the incident to the archbishop.
Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde was then the leader of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. (He served as Ottawa’s archbishop from 1967 to 1989.)
“He (the alleged victim) was left with the belief that they were to remove Mr. McGrory,” Crown attorney John Semenoff said in recounting the evidence Wednesday during closing arguments at the trial.
McGrory, 85, has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault and gross indecency in connection with two complainants.
He was officially removed from the priesthood last year by the Vatican.
The complainant’s testimony suggests that Plourde was made aware at least twice of McGrory’s dangerous sexual problems.
McGrory himself has told this newspaper that he went to Plourde to plead for help with his powerful attraction to adolescents, both male and female.
Plourde, he said, knew of his sexual problems before moving him to a Toronto-based organization dedicated to assisting remote Catholic missions.
Four years after leaving Ottawa, in 1991, McGrory was charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old, and later convicted of that crime. The Archdiocese of Ottawa has settled out of court with two women who said they were abused as adolescents by McGrory, and is being sued by other alleged victims.
In his closing argument Wednesday, Semenoff told Ontario Superior Court Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin that the experience of the two complainants in the McGrory case bear a “striking similarity” that lends credence to their accounts.
Both were fondled in a bed in the rectory at St. Philip Parish after being invited back to the priest’s residence by McGrory, he said.
One case involved a single incident of sexual touching, court heard, while the second involved a series of sexual assaults that occurred over a three-year period.
The complainant in the latter incident testified that he was 15 when he was first abused in 1969. The complainant said he met McGrory after he started to play touch football. McGrory, he said, would provide him and other young boys with alcohol, and sometimes invite him back to St. Philip Church.
The complainant said McGrory became friends with his guardians, who gave the priest access to their home. He said McGrory would let himself into the house late at night, and that he would often awake to the priest fondling his penis.
In his final argument, McGrory’s defence lawyer Leo Russomanno noted that the allegations are 50 years old, which makes testing the reliability of witnesses problematic since any inconsistencies are ascribed to the passage of time.
That excuse, he said, has been used as a shield to fend off what would otherwise be considered serious inconsistencies and gaps in the complainants’ stories.
One complainant, he noted, told police that he was assaulted by McGrory in 1964 or 1965, but then testified at trial that he was sure the incident happened sometime between 1969 and 1971.
That kind of inconsistency, he argued, has to raise reasonable doubt about the reliability of a witness. Russomanno urged the judge not to embrace an “undiscriminating acceptance” of the allegations, and to acquit McGrory of the charges.
Justice O’Bonsawin is to deliver her verdict in the case next month.