In a decision released Thursday, a two-panel board voted Tuesday to allow Smith, 77, to be released to a community-residential facility upon bed space availability for a period of six months.Smith was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook in March 2013 to nine years, 11 months and 10 days in prison for 38 charges — 23 counts of indecent assault against a male, seven counts of sexual assault and eight counts of assault with intent.
The offences happened when Smith was a parish priest in several western Newfoundland communities and during trips to the mainland between 1969 and 1989.
In its decision, the board spoke of the assaults as being intrusive in nature and said Smith breached his position of trust and authority as a member of the clergy. During many of the assaults Smith was under the influence of alcohol and provided alcohol to his underage victims, the board said. It said the assaults were planned and included using bribes, manipulation and threats to gain his victims’ compliance.
Smith told the board his interest in young boys started after he became a priest while in his early 30s, and acknowledged his offending was more extensive than what is indicated in his file.
Information provided in an assessment for decision shows that Smith participated in treatment in the early 1990s, and there is no information that he reoffended after completing the treatment. Smith also claims to have abstained from alcohol since that time.
According to the General Statistical Information on Recidivism, his score of +23 indicates that four out of five offenders with similar characteristics will not reoffend within a three-year period. The board said Smith’s motivation level and reintegration potential are assessed as high, while an assessment by a psychologist deemed his risk to reoffend as low.
In written representations to the board, Smith spoke of his sorrow about the suffering his actions have caused his victims and his work of assisting other inmates. He plans to reintegrate into society by doing volunteer work, participating in self-help programs, spending time with family members and continuing his work with genealogical research.
Community Based Residential Facilities have confirmed support for day parole, and his family members remain supportive and willing to provide assistance.
The board said Smith’s case-management team believes his risk is manageable and recommended day parole for six months. The decision, however, notes local police are opposed to his release.
Conditions Smith must abide by while on day parole:
• Not consume, purchase or possess alcohol
• No direct or indirect contact with his victims or any member of their families
• Not to be in the presence of any male or female children under the age of 18 unless accompanied by a responsible adult who knows his criminal history, and has previously been approved in writing by his parole supervisor
• He is not to be in, near or around places where male children under the age of 18 are likely to congregate such as elementary and secondary schools, parks, swimming pools and recreational centres unless accompanied by an adult previously approved in writing by his parole supervisor