Investigation of priest slow: RCMP

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The Guardian(PEI) 

Published on August 12th, 2010

Jim Day

St. Malachy's Church, Kinkora St. Malachy’s Church, Kinkora
   

Police say the investigation of a priest who was removed from his duties at an P.E.I. parish for alleged sexual abuse years ago in western Newfoundland is moving at a snail’s pace.

“It’s a slow, tedious process,’’ said RCMP Sgt. Boyd Merrill, who handles media enquiries for Newfoundland and Labrador.

He says police are trying to “confirm and validate information’’ received to date.

Merrill says more than one person has suggested wrongdoing by Rev. George Smith.

RCMP in Deer Lake, N.L., received a written complaint from a man who alleges that Smith, a Catholic priest, sexually abused him years ago. The man said Smith touched him inappropriately when Smith was a priest in Deer Lake.

Smith was removed from his duties as administrator at St. Malachy’s in Kinkora in late May after church officials received a call from the diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador regarding an allegation of abuse.

Merrill says there is no update since the initial complaint came in. Police continue to conduct interviews and follow-ups from tips.

He says the investigation should take several more months. No charges have been laid.

Smith served in Deer Lake from 1986 to 1991 and went to P.E.I. in 1994.

P.E.I. Bishop Richard Grecco said even before the scandal broke that Smith was intended to fill in only as administrator until a new pastor was found for the church.

“It simply meant we had to find one quicker than planned,’’ he said of the need to remove Smith from his post.

Grecco says he hopes Smith’s situation will be resolved quickly.

“We’re still sad that this happened and I’m sure the people of Kinkora are,’’ he said.

“There is not much you can do but wait and see. I just know that there was shock from his departure and sadness.’’

Grecco said Smith is currently “not exercising any priestly ministry’’ and is out of the province.

He says the allegation of sexual abuse by the priest has left Catholics on the Island looking for the Church to be more upfront and transparent.

Rev. Gerard Chaisson was appointed as pastor on June 17 in the parishes Smith was serving. Chaisson says Smith was “liked very much’’ in the parishes of St. Peter’s, Seven Mile Bay and St. Malachy’s.

“The people, myself included … were shocked to hear of the allegation,’’ he said.

“The people are thinking about him and praying for the situation to be resolved. Many people that share their thoughts and feelings with me, wonder how he is doing and when the situation will be resolved. The people are not making judgment but are concerned.’’

He says the parishioners miss Smith and are allowing the justice system to do what it needs to do.

Chaisson says he has been attending to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the parishioners while taking every opportunity to be in the community to listen.

“I am experiencing people of deep faith … a new faith which is very important in their lives,’’ he  said.

“This faith is now assisting them in this time of struggle. As their priest, I have made myself open and available to them if they need to talk.’’

jday@theguardian.pe.ca

Comments

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You could say so

– August 14th, 2010 at 20:25:57

‘Investigation of priest slow’ That about sums it up for the past 30 years.

Cynical Dog

– August 12th, 2010 at 13:23:11

I can assure Mr Grecco that I am one Catholic who is NOT looking for the church to be more upfront and transparent, all that means is that “shixt” gets dumped back on the people just like the current foolishness of running around changing the locks on the churches and blamimg it on the insurance companies or the farsical retardation of forcing housewifes and mothers , who have been teaching Catechism for 20/30 years, to have to go to the RCMP (the great militia) for criminal background checks. Keep the RCMP out of the Catholic Church except to worship, which they are welcome to do. Fr Smith should never have been removed from his position in the parish and the Bishop should have kept the unproven gossip from NFLD to himself instead of blabbing it to the media. As for Fr Smith, I urge him to deny, deny, deny. To hell, I say, with the left wing fools and the opportunistic money grubbers.

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