Priest’s actions ‘abhorrent, abominable, cruel and detestable’

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Warning: This story contains graphic and sexually explicit details

CBC News

Posted: Mar 14, 2013 10:06 AM NT

Last Updated: Mar 14, 2013 5:37 PM NT

A retired Roman Catholic priest was given an 11-year sentence in a western Newfoundland court on Thursday for sexually abusing children.

George Ansel Smith, 75, was sentenced in Supreme Court in Corner Brook for offences involving 13 children he assaulted between 1969 and 1989.

“Mr. Smith’s crimes are serious, involve more victims, and result in more convictions than any of the offenders from the Mount Cashel Orphanage cases,” said Justice William Goodridge, referring to the sexual abuse scandal at a Christian Brothers institution in St. John’s.

Goodridge described Smith’s actions as “abhorrent, abominable, cruel and detestable.”

Smith pleaded guilty to 38 charges, including sexual assault, indecent assault and assault. The offences occurred largely in western Newfoundland, but also involved complainants in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. He was suspended from his duties at a Prince Edward Island parish in 2010 when charges were first laid.

Court had been told that many of his victims were altar boys or children of families involved with the churches where Smith worked as a parish priest. One of the boys was a newspaper carrier, and another boy performed odd jobs around the parish church property.

In many cases, the abuse started when the victim was 12 or 13. One of the victims was eight.

Justice William Goodridge found that Smith used the same pattern repeatedly, starting with giving his victims gifts and praise.

“The gifts included money, alcohol, cigarettes, cigars, ice cream, soft drinks, pornographic videos (viewed at the offender’s home), road trips, fishing trips and use of a snowmobile,” Goodridge wrote in a sentencing decision released Thursday.

“Once trust and friendship were established, the offender would invite the victim to his home for a sleepover. Ten of the thirteen victims were given alcohol immediately preceding the first incident of sexual abuse. Nine of the victims were asleep or passed out and awoke to discover their first victimization by sexual assault in progress,” he wrote.

“The criminal acts committed by the offender included kissing, body rubbing, genital fondling, masturbation, fellatio, anal intercourse, attempted anal intercourse, simulated intercourse between the legs and more.”

In the agreed statement of facts, Smith revealed in 1992 he was treated for alcohol abuse and his sexual attraction to boys. No criminal charges were filed then, and Smith was back on the job a year later.

Thomas Williams says Smith has expressed remorse, and has come to terms that he has to pay a price.

Thomas Williams says Smith has expressed remorse, and has come to terms that he has to pay a price. (CBC)Smith’s lawyer, Thomas Williams, said his client has expressed remorse and has come to terms that he has to pay a price.

“I appreciate fully how difficult this is on the victims and the families, but he’s been very sensitive to that and I think that’s been reflected in how he’s conducted himself through this entire process,” said Williams. “He surrendered himself into custody at the very earliest opportunity; he has pled guilty to every charge that was before the court; he has acknowledged and hasn’t disputed any of the facts that have been alleged, and he is taken his punishment as given by the court,” Williams said.

Crown Prosecutor Trina Simms says Smith's sentence was in the range recommended by the Crown.

Crown Prosecutor Trina Simms says Smith’s sentence was in the range recommended by the Crown. (CBC)

Crown prosecutor Trina Simms said she has had an opportunity to speak with the victims, “What we’re hearing most consistently is that they’re glad that it’s concluded.”

Ramona Roberts is a parishioner of St. Malachy Church in Kinkora, Prince Edward Island — Smith’s parish for a short time before his 2010 suspension.

Roberts said some people did leave the parish after Smith was suspended.

“It was extremely shocking because of the nature of the allegations,” she said. “Once the initial shock wore off, we were left with the feeling that we knew we didn’t know him very well … we really felt we didn’t know him very well. I think for some people, it might’ve been the [last] straw …. but I think for most people, we were able to put it behind us and focus on the good things,” said Roberts.

“The worst of it is is that it takes away from the very good work that’s happening, by and large, in most parishes.”

On Thursday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. George’s made the following statement:

“Today, George Smith was sentenced for crimes of sexual misconduct from his time of ministry as a priest in the former Diocese of St. George’s.

We feel intensely for the pain of the victims, their families and all those who have been affected by these crimes and we rely fully on the justice of our Canadian legal system in prosecuting such criminial behaviour.

Now that the criminal trial is completed, the church will proceed with the appropriate canonical penal process. Let us all join together in praying for God’s healing grace for the victims, their families and all those who have been wounded by these crimes.”

Smith will receive one-for-one credit for the year that he has already spent in jail. The sentence was in the range recommended by the Crown.

Goodridge stayed three charges.

18 Responses to Priest’s actions ‘abhorrent, abominable, cruel and detestable’

  1. Sylvia says:

    This, or something very similar, was on CBC radio national news this evening.

  2. A victim says:

    Church leaders knew what Smith was up to years ago when he was sent for alcohol abuse and sexual deveancy. Yet he was never reported or charged. I believe that those who covered up his crimes should also be charged.

    • Sylvia says:

      Amen to that!

      From what I can tell it would have been Bishop Raymond Lahey who twiddled thumbs and recycled Father George Smith through Southdown to the unsuspecting and trusting Catholics in PEI?

      Does anyone know of the bishop or anyone in the diocese knew before 1992 that Father George Smith was a molester?

  3. A victim says:

    I would think that someone had to know. Why would he have been sent away for treatment if they did not know. One of the victims stated that he had told a bishop several years ago and nothing was done. I hope that this will be investigated fully.

  4. Mike Mc says:

    I feel my previous comments and additions are worth thinking about here:

    “In the agreed statement of facts, Smith revealed in 1992 he was treated for alcohol abuse and his sexual attraction to boys. No criminal charges were filed then, and Smith was back on the job a year later.”

    This paragraph is very disturbing from the CBC article!!!

    What is says to me is that in 1992 someone/s knew his evil intentions and problem…..but somehow he was reinstated into parish work again a year later. I wouldn’t be surprised if a bishop knew [Lahey??]about this and thought “okay, he is cured now” and “forgiven for his sins”. [Or if it was Lahey, he was obviously hiding his own situation.]

    Well, as we have seen many times before, this thinking of Bishops and Cardinals is TOTALLY WRONG. No excuse for this. Don’t you think? I mean c’mon, this was 1992. It wasn’t right in 1962 or even ’52, but somehow it happened more frequently back then. It was never right to simply assign a priest to another parish! All they did was perform these despicable acts again and wound more people.

    Can someone explain why Smith in 1992 was not taken to task then?

    Yes, as others say above, this coverup DESERVES an investigation. How many more coverups are still hidden today? This site will certainly(in time) reveal them!

  5. John says:

    Yes it is trure bishop Raymond lahey new the whole ordeal about preist George smith, aswell as some other preist, because I told them myself one preist told me that maybe I should fogive and forget, I then told him that he too was probably a secretive Queer aswell. There was a decan preist in stevenville aswell that knew, he was the the one that made the arrangement to talk to bishop Raymond lahey. I told lahey and he said he admired my strength and courage for coming forward to deal with it and that if I ever wanted to join the catholic diaces. To contact him and he will see that it happens . Then after that I guess he just sent smith to a different location. It’s all a securitize cover up to protect each other in there little catholic empire pffffff . It’s a joke and a cult, ill be contacting. CBC. Live. To air my story very soon .

  6. Mike Mc says:

    John, can you provide this site with that deacon’s name? Is he still in the ministry today?

  7. John says:

    I’m not sure if he’s still in the church or not, and ill have to look up my file tomorrow to provide the last name .

  8. John says:

    To mikes question, the name of that decan preist was RAY EARL. He was the decan preist in stevenville nfld at the time and knew what preist George smith had done , by me telling him. He then notified bishop lahey about it aswell.

  9. A victim says:

    This confirms what many have suspected. Hopefully charges can be brought against those who knew.

  10. A victim says:

    After months of seeing a therapist I am finally beginning to feel “not alone.” Many times I have stated that I was always alone, and while having many friends no one really understood that I meant “alone inside”. After years of silent torture I feel that I am finally able to raise my head a little. The shame and betrayal that I felt are still there however I am feeling somewhat better about myself. Hopefully I will someday before I die be able to put this behind me. Please keep me in your thoughts.

  11. Mike Mc says:

    John, this is what Google directs me to about a Ray Earle at Mary Queen of the World Parish, St John’s, Nfld. Could this be the same person?

    Telephone: (709) 368-5371 (709) 368-5371
    Fax: (709) 368-5181
    Pastor: Reverend Patrick Power
    Sacramental Ministry: Reverend Ray Earle

  12. MS says:

    Fr. Ray Earle became a Redemptorist Priest, served at St. Theresa’s Parish in St. John’s, NL within the last 20 years, served in Ontario with the Redemptorists, and served at the Basicilia in St. John’s, NL within the last 8 years and is at another parish outside St. John’s right now as far as I know. He “seemed” to be moved a lot.
    He served also in the Bay St. George Diocese before it was changed to Corner Brook/Labrador Diocese.

  13. MS says:

    Fr. Earle also did Redemptorist Missions during Lent or whenever at different places, sometimes with other priests.

  14. MS says:

    Fr. Earle’s present address is Mount Pearl, NL
    He served in Cape St. George, NL and St. Mary’s, NL
    Marystown, NL , I think.

  15. John says:

    There’s two ray earls. The one that I felt with was the younger man , he was a decan preist in stephenville, about 12 years ago if you contact the church in stevenville nfld they can tell you more about him or contact the ray earl in St. John’s he knew the other ray earl.

  16. Mike Mc says:

    John, I’m confused. There are two Ray Earl(e)s in Nfld in the RC Ministry? The one who was at the time a deacon in Stephenville, where is he now? Is he a priest today? If not, where is he now? Who would Sylvia contact in Stephenville to find out? Have you a name or number?
    Thanks for your time.

  17. John says:

    I’m not sure we’re. The decan preist ray earl is. If someone contacts the bishop in corner brook, he can let them know we’re he is and if he actually became a full time preist or not.

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