Women demand police re-open investigation into Ottawa priest with history of sex abuse

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The Ottawa Sun

First posted: | Updated:

By Andrew Duffy

Rev. Barry McGrory in 1975

Rev. Barry McGrory in 1975

Two women who say they were victimized by Rev. Barry McGrory at Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s want the Ottawa Police Service to re-open a criminal investigation of the Catholic priest.

The women have both contacted lawyer Robert Talach, who will formally ask the police to launch a new investigation.

In Canada, there is no statute of limitations on sexual assault.

“They want the justice that was denied them in past,” said Talach, a London, Ont. lawyer who has represented dozens of clergy sexual abuse victims.

The Ottawa police have investigated McGrory in the past. This newspaper has learned that one of McGrory’s victims filed a sexual assault report with the Ottawa Police Service in March 1994.

According to the victim, that complaint did not result in criminal charges because the Crown attorney felt he did not have a reasonable chance of securing a conviction.

“It makes me a lesser person — that’s what it makes me,” said the victim, an Ottawa resident who has asked to remain anonymous.

“It means that he walked away without accepting any responsibility for his actions.”

McGrory was contacted about this story, and informed of its contents, but did not return phone calls.

The woman reached an out-of-court financial settlement with the Archdiocese of Ottawa in the mid-1990s that included a non-disclosure agreement.

It’s not clear whether that agreement affected the Crown’s decision not to proceed with criminal charges.

Last month, McGrory admitted in an interview to sexually abusing three young parishioners, including the two women described in this story, at Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s and 1980s.


Priest admits sexual abuse for first time
One of his victims — the one who went to Ottawa police — said McGrory’s actions have coloured every part of her life during the past four decades.

“That experience has probably made me a very cautious person,” she said. “Once you meet someone as despicable as him (McGrory), you’re very cautious about who you trust.”

This newspaper has obtained a copy of the official police report in her case, which outlines the woman’s allegations against McGrory.

Until now, the allegations have never been reported.

In the police report, the woman alleges that while she was a teenager, her father approached McGrory and asked him to help her overcome drug and alcohol problems.

McGrory, then pastor at Holy Cross Parish on Walkley Road, began to counsel the girl on a regular basis in 1975, according to the report.

At the time, she was 16 or 17 years old.

The victim alleges that McGrory insinuated himself into her life and began to have sexual intercourse with her in the fall of 1975, about two months after the counselling sessions started.

The sexual contact continued until she told McGrory, in a ruse, that she was pregnant, the police report says.

The victim told police that she confronted McGrory about his sexual abuse in 1983. She said he invited her into the church to talk, then pulled her to a bedroom and “again forced her to have intercourse.”

“She advises that she consistently told him, ‘No,’ and ‘to stop,’” the report says.

McGrory has denied ever using violence in any of his sexual relationships.

After the alleged sexual assault, the woman went with McGrory to the Bella Vista Restaurant because, she told police, she “still expected to get answers.”

Ottawa police investigators also interviewed another McGrory victim, who agreed to testify against the priest. The woman, who did not want her own case to be the subject of a criminal trial, reached a $300,000 out-of-court financial settlement with the diocese in 1997 for abuse that she suffered between 1975 and 1980 at the hands of McGrory. The abuse began, according to court documents, after she sought personal counselling as a 13 year old from the priest.

McGrory has told the Citizen that the sexual contact began a year later in that case.

Three months into the police investigation of McGrory, it appeared charges would be laid.

In late June 1994, the complainant received a letter from her lawyer’s office which said: “Further to our meeting of June 21st, I am assuming that Heather (Perkins-McVey) has now informed you that charges are to be laid against the priest involved in this matter.”’

Perkins-McVey, the complainant’s then lawyer who accompanied her to the police station, is now a judge. She declined comment for this story.

For whatever reason, criminal charges were not laid in Ottawa against McGrory.

At the time of the alleged offences, in the 1970s, different laws governed sexual assault than those in place today.

At the time, the legal age of sexual consent was 14 years old. (It is now 16.)

What’s more, in 1988, the Criminal Code was amended to make it an offence for adults to have sexual contact with someone under 18 when they’re in a position of trust or authority.

In an interview last month, McGrory, 82, described himself as a former sex addict who suffered from a powerful attraction to adolescents, both male and female. He said he has since overcome his sexual disorder thanks to “a merciful God” and a 12-step program.

McGrory was pastor of Holy Cross Parish from 1974 to 1986, and said he told then Archbishop Jospeh-Aurèle Plourde about his predilection for adolescents.

Nonetheless, in 1987, he was named president of a Roman Catholic organization dedicated to assisting remote missions in Canada’s North.

Four years later, he was charged with sexually assaulting a native youth and later convicted of the crime. He received a suspended sentence and three years’ probation.

Never defrocked by the Vatican, McGrory now lives as a retired priest in Toronto.

The Archdiocese of Ottawa says it’s now considering whether to initiate a request to the Vatican for McGrory’s removal from the priesthood.

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