The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI)
15 December 2011
Photo special to The Guardian by the CBC
Father George Smith. Screen capture courtesy CBC.
CORNER BROOK – The Roman Catholic priest charged Wednesday in Newfoundland with sexually abusing young males was once held in high esteem on Prince Edward Island.
George Smith, who the court documents state now lives in Truro, N.S., turned himself into the RCMP in Corner Brook and appeared in provincial court Wednesday morning.
He has been charged with a total of 38 offences that involve nine complainants who claim they were abused by Smith between 1969 and 1989. The offences are alleged to have happened in six different western Newfoundland communities, including Port Saunders, Corner Brook, Stephenville, St. Fintan’s, Cape St. George and Deer Lake.
The charges, some of which fall under legislation that has been amended under the Criminal Code of Canada since the offences are alleged to have taken place, include 13 counts of gross indecency, 11 counts of indecent assault on a male, seven counts of sexual assault, four counts of unlawfully committing a gross indecency and three counts of unlawfully assaulting with intent to commit an indictable offence.
Shock reverberated through the P.E.I. parishes of St. Peter’s, Seven Mile Bay and St. Malachy’s last year when Smith was removed from his duties as administrator at St. Malachy’s in Kinkora after church officials received a call from the Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador regarding an allegation of abuse.
P.E.I. Bishop Richard Grecco suspended Smith from his duties as a P.E.I. priest in May 2010 following the sexual allegations. He said Wednesday he finds news of the serious slate of charges against Smith upsetting.
“I’m feeling very sad about this,” said the bishop. “The people were pleased with his service and I was very, very shocked to hear about these allegations…I know the people on the Island where he served liked him very much.”
Smith was released from police custody on conditions Wednesday. He had his next appearance in provincial court in Corner Brook scheduled for Feb. 23.”The people were pleased with his service and I was very, very shocked to hear about these allegations…I know the people on the Island where he served liked him very much,”– P.E.I. Bishop Richard Grecco
Sgt. Boyd Merrill of the RCMP said the charges were the result of a 16-month investigation.
“The priority for police at this time are the victims, therefore few other details will be released,” Merrill stated in a press release announcing the charges Wednesday afternoon.
One of the victims named in the court information did an interview with TC Media in June 2010. He told the newspaper that Smith abused him when he was an altar boy at St. Columcille Roman Catholic Church in St. Fintan’s where Smith served for a number of years prior to being stationed in Deer Lake.
The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, would have been 12 to 14 years old when the abuse is alleged to have happened and believed his older brothers were victims too. TC Media has not confirmed any relation, but court documents indicate there are other victims with the same surname from the same community who are alleged to have been assaulted by Smith prior to the man who was interviewed.
The man, who is now in his 40s, said he has come to terms with what happened to him, although he was beaten into silence when he tried to speak up about the abuse after the first incident when he was a boy. He never filed a complaint about the abuse until after he had children of his own.
“I think it took me 30-some-odd years to realize I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said in 2010. “It’s hard to come forward, especially when you’re scared you might be the only one. But I knew in my heart that I wasn’t the only one.
“I made it as far as I’m concerned; I overcame it. However, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have scars from it … I know what happened to me. I got nothing to be ashamed of. I was a young boy … I’ve shed my tears over this.”
(With files from Gary Kean, The Western Star; Jim Day, The Guardian)
- – December 15, 2011 at 19:24:36
A sexual deviant is a sexual deviant whether they be married, single, a priest, a soldier, or whatever the profession. That being said, some professions that involve positions of trust tend to provide “safe harbours” for such deviant people. Just because this deviant is male doesn’t say that in even recent history that others have not been male, but female. Sexual predators prey on people. They are in many areas of our society. To hang an entire group of people for the action of a few (albeit there appears that the Catholic church provides a lovely haven for pedophiles the way it is geared. Plus the fact that Rome has a history of moving these creeps from one parish to another to another) is a mistake. I think that woman should be given the opportunity to be priests as well as males. But that is not going to stop sexual deviants and other criminals from going into this profession. As long as there is a cloak of conspiracy out of Rome on such behaviours and as long as there are professions where the people are not kept to task, it will provide a haven for scuz like this. Sad but true. Get the priests, be they male or female out of the rectory and into society and let them get married. Parents take note of your child’s behaviour when they attend church groups, scouts, brownies, Big Sisters, Big Brothers, Hockey camps the entire gamut. Take note of your child’s behaviour and take note of what your children are doing. Be attentive to your children. Be attentive of your neighbours and don’t put your prized possessions in the company of relative strangers. Just because a person has a position of trust – dcotor, lawyer, priest, minister, nurse, teacher…whatever………. doesn’t say they should be trusted implicitly. Check them out and be aware and be vigilant.
- – December 15, 2011 at 15:42:44
@Charlottetown Resident… Look at the other protestant religions that allow married and female clergy and tell me that there is less abuse there than in the Catholic Church.. It simply isn’t the case. there are bad people everywhere, whether it’s in the Catholic Church, The Anglican Church, the fire department, or in the school system. It’s very unfortunate that these people get through the system, but the fact of the matter is that they do. At the end of the day there isn’t much the institution can do about it, other than handle it correctly when it comes to that point. This is the only area that can be criticized, and the Catholic Church at least, has recognized that in the past some cases were not handled correctly. But I rest my case that it has nothing to do with “repressed sexuality” or unmarried clergy, or not having women priests. (One only has to look at NCAA athletics in the US to prove this.. these abusers who have come out recently were ‘happily’ married men)
- SHELLEY BROWN
- – December 15, 2011 at 14:52:16
YES, what occured over 20 years ago is wrong and by man’s law & our society rightfully needs to be accounted for. The way the Catholic Church handles – handled what’s happened with youth & preists should also be held accountable. This picture looks like a very sad man who has asked God to forgive him for the wrong of over two decades ago. To forgive the perpitrater gives many Survivors closure and finally inner peace, something they do for themselves so they can heal. IMO – It’s Rome, the institution of the Catholic Church with it’s ancient rule teachings and it’s incredible wealth that is evil. Preists and Nuns should be allowed to marry. Condoms & teaching how to use condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS should be allowed by the Catholic Church. Look to Africa with it’s ENOURMOUS AIDS Epedemic, where Catholic Preists, Nuns & Missionaries still continue to preach & teach it’s ancient birth control propeganda. Our world IS overpopulated,multi-millions of people – starving, the spread of the Aids virus epidemic continues. The Catholic Church’s congregations getting smaller, their Churches closing, while Rome remains, one of, if not the wealthiest institutions in the world. IMO – You don’t need the Catholic Church to worship and have faith in God The Father, His son Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit. To have that, I’m told & experienced is the most full-feeling, wonderful peaceful feeling of contentment you’ll ever experience.
- – December 15, 2011 at 15:46:21
Although your comment doesn’t deserve a reply allow me to say this: Who were the first people in Africa trying to help the AIDS situation? Catholic Priests and Nuns. They are trying to fix the situation. You don’t stop the spread of AIDS by giving out condoms left right and center, you fix it by abstaining from sexual intercourse. And isn’t this just what the Church has been saying? Of Course it is! One other thing.. Rome (I think you mean The Vatican- as the pope doesn’t really live in Rome nor is it the head of the Church found there) is not rich in the sense that it can throw around money like no body’s business, they are rich in the sense that their is a lot of PRICELESS art and things of the sort. But that raises two problems A) If they were going to sell it who would buy it? and B) Isn’t it better that they just keep in the museums and churches so that everyone can enjoy the art for it’s own sake, as the great works of humanity that they are? Instead of being sent off to some private estate where no one (or at least very few) will ever see it? just something to ponder…. and don’t bash the Catholic Church… We don’t bash your beliefs..
- RAY MAHAR
- – December 15, 2011 at 13:12:15
May God forgive him. But as Jesus said “Give to Ceaser What is Ceaser`s ” And then hopefully He gets what he deserves from the justice System “in Spades” “Who knows what lurkes in the heart of man.” ????
- – December 15, 2011 at 11:06:56
I am glad that all the sexual abuse in catholic church, R.C.M.P., and Boy Scouts is being brought out in the open thanks to the courage of the victims for speaking out. It does take a lot of courage to talk about it. Thanks to Fifth Estate for the hard work you have done in regard to the sexual abuse in these organizations.
- THEY ARE EVERYWHERE
- – December 15, 2011 at 11:00:58
These kind of sexual deviants are everywhere. You see them in organized sports, the Boys Scouts, teachers etc. etc. It is sad to see it in the religious of any faith. It does point out the full humanity of these institutions. It as well allows for some over generalization and ‘faith’ bashing.
- – December 15, 2011 at 09:54:58
There is no scientific evidence to prove any of the cross related bogus elements of christianity and other religions. Our early human ancestors; on this earth … go back more than 6 million years … 5,996,000 years before the Greeks, Romans and the Jews. Christianity is basically a 2011 year old fictional cult. In the year 300 AD when Emperor Constantine, who to some was the first pope; went on to fabricate & market Christianity – a fantasy – which turned out to be one of the most hateful & evil concoctions ever perpetrated on the world. The evil writings in Leviticus 18:22 … against gays – depict: “P” … “priestly rules” & expanded by the pope; homophobes and religious frauds … to attack the gay community and never meant to apply to the public — but to priests. Leviticus was written long after Moses — 600BC. The pope and churches fully aware that Leviticus 18:22 applies to priests only … refuse to remove this stigma … maliciously persecuting gays. Kids bullied into suicide …! Being black or left-handed or being gay is just as natural.
- – December 15, 2011 at 15:41:41
Actually, there is a lot of scientific data (peer reviewed) that does agree with the Bible. Your first sentence is false. Try googling the topic, there are a lot of interesting discussion on that topic. If you take a deep look into the subject (which you obviously haven’t) there is more scientific data that complements the Bible, than opposes it. Either way, no side will prove with 100% certainty that they are correct, and it will come down to having faith.
- – December 15, 2011 at 09:54:43
- STRATFORD RESIDENT
- – December 15, 2011 at 09:54:38
I hope people understand that this is not the Faith, but the institution that fosters the development of monsters like that.
- CHARLOTTETOWN RESIDENT
- – December 15, 2011 at 13:12:58
I totally agree with the Stratford Residents comments; this particular religious institution will not change, until either one of the two following also occurs: Priests are allowed to be married OR that they “allow” women to become priests. It is high time that this particular institution actually start begining to catch up with the times!