School never made aware of misconduct

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Accused was making transition from St. Pius to parish work

Ottawa Citizen

July 15, 2010

By Kristy Nease, The Ottawa Citizen

The principal at St. Pius X High School from the early 1970s until 1984 — including the time when teacher Rev. William Joseph Allen is alleged to have assaulted two teenage students — said he was never made aware of any misconduct or suspicion of misconduct by the Catholic priest.

Msgr. Len Lunney said by phone Tuesday that when Allen left the school to assume duties at the Resurrection of Our Lord parish in 1975, Allen’s “involvement at the school was very limited.”

During Lunney’s early tenure, Allen had been making the “natural evolution” from teaching to increased parish work, Lunney said.

Allen, 80, was arrested Monday and released on conditions the same day. He faces three charges of indecent assault against two teenage boys at St. Pius X that allegedly occurred between 1970 and 1976.

The “repetitive” assaults took place on school property and church property and in private encounters, police said.

Lunney offered little reaction to the charges faced by Allen, a man he had worked with since the late 1950s.

“I don’t know. In life, I think as a philosophy … nothing ever surprises me,” Lunney said.

“I thought he was a fine fellow. That’s all I can say,” he said of Allen. “He was a good person, and a likable person.”

Lunney wouldn’t say whether Allen’s departure from the school was his own choice.

“As I say, it was a natural evolution. As the school got established, the role of the priests was to do parish work, not education,” Lunney said.

“I think the key word is ‘natural.’ It’s just nature itself,” the monsignor said. “You are ordained for pastoral work at the parish level in the pastoral situation. Schools are kind of an addenda to that, I suppose.”

In an Archdiocese of Ottawa media release, Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he was “deeply saddened” to learn of the charges against Allen, whose health is failing. The priest had withdrawn from active ministry “a number of years ago.”

“I am confident that the judicial process will bring to light the facts and circumstances of these charges,” Prendergast is quoted as saying. “Justice must be done, and must be seen to be done.”

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

29 Responses to School never made aware of misconduct

  1. Ed Lamb says:

    I am sure that I wrote to you last summer.

    I was a student at St. Pius, from 1958 (0riginal class) to 1964. I complained to the principal at the time, Bob Bedard, in the spring of 1962 about the potential for scandal from Allen’s penchant for inviting boarders, one at a time, to his rooms to wrestle, an action which provoked snickering in all directions. So don’t tell me that they were unaware. The concerns I expressed in private were conveyed to Allen who upbraided me the next day in class in front of my friends.

  2. 1yellowknife says:

    Mr Lamb: You were a student and you reported inappropriate sexualized behaviour with students by Rev. William J. Allen. And you were ill-treated as a result. WOW, THAT TOOK COURAGE!! What an amazing young man you were. You named the misbehaviour then and you are still naming it. Thank you.

  3. anonomous says:

    I too was a student at St Pius in 1973. I am so sorry for your pain. One of my first memories are boys coming up to us girls telling us that the priests in this school were to be feared and to stay away from them. There were rumours of sexual abuse between the boys and Priests prior to the school becoming co-ed. The years before then, St.Pius was an all boys school. My second memories was of Father Allen holding a young man with his bare hands around his throat, holding him up on his locker. I remember his feet dangling as the father screamed at him. I quickly turned around before he saw me and ran. I always’s felt so sorry for him, he was so scared.

    I wonder if the reason Father L. Lunney, the Principal, did not respond properly was because the abuse was everywhere and he was abusing young woman as well. #MeToo. I was sexually interfered with by him in his office, so that could be why he didn’t investigate at all. After all, he was a Priest and the Principal! He had great control over us all; another girl I spoke with, that was in my class, was also strangely afraid of him. I moved away with my parents shortly after that incident and he found me in Toronto and told my mother he was here to give me my year book. I only attended the school for just over 3month and my picture was not in the book. But he found me and he wrote me letters, which I still have, I was 14…why would he come and visit me in Toronto and write me letters, he also sent me a head shot school picture of himself, why, when I knew him briefly?? Sexual abuse guilt! That why! I am thankful I was not home, he gave the items to my mother and thankfully that was the last time I saw or heard from him again! But the damage he caused stayed with me till now!

    • C shalen says:

      Lunney tried to touch me at his home in Fitzroy Harbor before a bunch of us went caroling. Scared the hell out of me. I was 14. 51 years later and I still search the paper for his obituary.

      • Tracy Ferguson says:

        I’m so sorry he did that to you. I’m sure if this went public there would be a number of female students would say they too were assault by him in some way. I was traumatized for years. I thought I had done something wrong. Did I flirt with him did I lead him on. Of course not I was 14 years old he was a 30 something man, priest and principle he knew better and he greatly effected my self esteem for years. I’m almost glad to hear someone else went through something like this with him as well. Thank you for your courage to come forward #metoo

  4. M Thibault says:

    Lunney passed away yesterday, according to a post made to a Facebook group of my graduating classmates (1987).

  5. Cairine says:

    The Ottawa Citizen published an obituary for Msgr Leonard Lunney today. It says he is fondly remembered including by former students. Doesn’t sound like fondly is the right word to describe how students remember him.

  6. Christopher OBrien says:

    Scumbag and enabler of abuse.

  7. Sylvia says:

    Ottawa Citizen

    LUNNEY, Msgr. Leonard
    (Priest of the Diocese of Ottawa)
    February 6, 1933 – October 1, 2019
    It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Msgr. Leonard Michael Lunney. A native of Pakenham Township, Msgr. Len spent the last few years of his life as a resident of Orchardview by the Mississippi in Almonte. He was in his 61st year of priesthood. Son of the late James and Mary (nee Ryan) Lunney. …Fondly remembered by his many nieces and nephews, former students and parishioners as well as many good friends. Monsignor was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Ottawa on June 7, 1959. He was appointed Curate at St. George’s parish in Ottawa. He also worked in the field of secondary education at St. Pius X High School at that time. In 1969, he became principal of Pius where he remained until 1986. During those years, he was also parish priest at Holy Rosary parish, Ottawa, St. Michael’s parish, Fitzroy Harbour and St. Gabriel’s parish, Constance Bay. After leaving Pius in 1986, Monsignor became principal of St. Matthew’s High School in Orléans. A year later, he was appointed parish priest at Divine Infant parish, Orléans where he remained for several years. He later became the Episcopal Vicar of the English Pastoral Community of the Diocese of Ottawa. He entered into full retirement in 2007. Monsignor Len was also chaplain for the Ottawa Fire Department and involved in the local Council of the Knights of Columbus as well as many other parish organizations along the way. A tireless worker and much beloved by his flock, Monsignor Leonard Lunney will be missed. A Solemn Translation to St. Peter Celestine Church, Pakenham will take place on Sunday afternoon, October 6 at 1 o’clock followed by visitation from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. and again after 10 a.m. Monday. A Concelebrated Funeral Mass will be held in St. Peter Celestine Church on Monday morning, October 7 at 11 o’clock. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast officiating. Interment St. Peter Celestine Parish Cemetery, Indian Hill Road, Pakenham. In memory, please consider a donation to the St. Peter Celestine Church Restoration Fund.Entrusted to the care of the Pilon Family Funeral Home and Chapel Ltd.,
    50 John Street North, Arnprior.
    Published on October 3, 2019

    • Phil Johnson says:

      Perhaps writing something in the link to point out his abuses would help. Especially coming from some of his victims would be more impactful. I did this with our abuser and even cc’d the Montreal Star…got some good coverage which impacted on his wake and service.

  8. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    How would Robert Sallin have ever known how appropriate his saying in “The Wrath of Khan” was? “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”.
    The needs of the “many” is defined by historical and appropriate norms, which appear to be changing by the hour. Tradition and historical norms are dinosaurs in our age.
    We are changing sociologically and physiologically at a warp speed, and we are NOT adapting well at all! We are losing the “family unit”, we no longer look out for the good of our neighbour, it’s all about number “1” and to hell with everybody else.
    Traditionally, we have looked to the church for guidance and counsel in troubled times like this. How can we continue to do this when the church is screwed up to the extent that it is? Why will “they” not listen? The pope is concerned about our use of adjectives, but not of our lot in life. REALLY?
    “Every time a butterfly flaps it’s wings, the history of the world is changed forever”.
    Recovery will begin with little things like this – it will not be recognized for a LONG time to come. Mike.

  9. PiusGrad says:

    This is difficult. I attended Father Lunney’s funeral today, and saw many fine people who were classmates of mine at Pius, and with whom I taught.

    Intelligent, aware people. And so I try to reconcile what has been written here in this comments section with what I knew of the man, and what those others at his funeral knew of him.

    I don’t know that I can. I don’t know whether to believe my own judgment or be influenced by those who claim abuse. I know false allegations happen, and happen more frequently than most know, especially in an anonymous forum.

    And yet it is possible these claims are true. Certainly two of the priests who taught us at Pius have already admitted abusing students. Both were men I thought odd in an undefinable way, as a young teen, but I couldn’t identify, then, the oddness I sensed. But with father Lunney, I sensed none of that.

    “Difficult” is not even close to being an adequate word to describe my conflict.

    • bc says:

      I know false allegations happen, and happen more frequently than most know, especially in an anonymous forum.

      Those who have no credibility whatsoever are those who come here anonymously like yourself to mumble that plaintiffs in clerical abuse cases are more likely to be lying if they make allegations anonymously… while you are alleging anonymously that Father Lunney was a good priest. By your own standard; you are not so credible in your defense of Father Lunney.

      If readers of this blog shouldn’t believe those who anonymously make allegations of clerical abuse why should they believe those who anonymously make allegations of good clerical conduct? The fact of the matter is that because of the cover-up of clerical abuse; one can`t know whether or not Father XYZ was a good priest. The only thing that is possibly true about Father XYZ is that he may have been a clerical abuser; and that the cover-up of his abuse is ongoing.

      • PiusGrad says:

        You have misread what I have written. Please go back and read it again.

        I didn’t defend anyone as being a good priest. I simply said that it was not accurate to say that it was “well-known” that Father Lunney was a lecher.

        If you have evidence that it was well known, then provide it.

        My comments have been measured and careful. Especially because I have friends who were abused by priests.

        But I am not willing to condemn every priest based on anonymous allegations.

        But you seem ready to.

        You seem consumed by anger.

  10. Nilan25 says:

    Lunney was a lecher with females, well known. He stood by while this was going on under his full knowledge. The predators sought out the most vulnerable, the ones unable to fight back. I was approached and told the priest to get his f’in hands off me. I did not fit the profile. These pedophiles ruined children’s lives and that is unforgiveable.

    • PiusGrad says:

      Agreed that pedophiles ruin people’s lives, the kids and their families as well. As an example, I know the effects that Father Keeler’s abuse had, and continues to have, on friends of mine. I am no forgiver of child abusers.

      Can’t agree though that it was well-known that Father Lunney was a lecher with females. This is the first time I have encountered any such allegations, and as Pius grads we have certainly been open about discussing those priests who did abuse their positions of trust, such as Fathers Allen and O’Keefe. But Father Lunney’s name never came up over all the years. So that allegation certainly wasn’t well-known, or at least, not to very many of us

      • bc says:

        Victims of sexual assault and victims of so-called historical clerical abuse typically will only begin talking about what they endured decades after they were prejudiced. That is why many jurisdictions have lifted statutes of limitations for civil litigation in cases of sexual assault. The cover-up of clerical abuse by the Church only made the already difficult process of speaking out even worse. The Church always knew that victims would find it difficult to speak out. The cover-up was by design a safety measure ensuring their silence.

        The cover-up is ongoing. The names of all credibly accused priests are state secrets for the Church. But for the cover-up we could reasonably know the good priest from the bad priests. Because of the cover-up there`s no way to know. The only certainty is that there is an ongoing worldwide cover-up and that no priest was/is left uncovered by it.

        • Nilan256 says:

          The Pius nest of predators was well known The ongoing pain to children and now adults can never be forgiven. The reaction of the Church just exacerbated the pain of these damaged souls. make no mistake, these predators sought out and groomed only the most vulnerable. The children from broken homes that were perverted into thinking it was there fault. This is how these predators ensured that they would not come forward. Can you imagine the pain and bavey involved for an adult with famlies coming forward to speak on thei abuse?

          • bc says:

            The Pius nest of predators was well known.
            I believe you Nilan256.
            What`s not there can`t be covered-up.

          • PiusGrad says:

            Well, let’s just agree to disagree on that first point then. Between me and my siblings, one or more of us was/were students at Pius for 13 years. Not one of us, nor any of our many friends who we still know over the years, ever knew that abuse was occurring. I also did my student-teaching there and supply taught there. Again, it was not the case that any abuse was well-known. But obviously you knew some people who did know about it. So in your circle, it was well-known, while in ours, it wasn’t known at all.

            And I totally agree that the greatest sin was the active refusal of some in the Church hierarchy to deal properly and effectively with those who were abusers. That was monstrous, allowing predators to keep pursuing the vulnerable, thereby ensuring those poor kids and their families would bear the pain the rest of their lives.

  11. Nilan256 says:

    Delusional. Crampton, O’Keefe Keeler and Allan. Predators. Because you did not see it, therefore it did no exist. Many others that were not caught. Ask the kids and adults that have sought counseling and therapy to the damage that was done to their childhood. Anecdotal evidence by your family and friends do not supersede the charges and solid evidence of what occurred there.

    • PiusGrad says:

      Delusional? No. You just don’t want to read what I have written. You persist in saying that I have written that abuse did not happen. Why do you keep saying something that isn’t true? I have written, many times, that abuse DID happen. And that the four you list are proven abusers. Given that we agree on that, I just don’t understand your comment. It seems to be directed at those who would deny that abuse happened. Then, send it to them. But that’s not what I have written.

      Re-read what I have written. As many times as necessary.

      Let’s tick the boxes.

      Do I deny that the priests you listed were abusers? No. I have made it clear that not only do I know they were abusers, I have friends (too many) who were abused. I know their pain, because we have talked about it.

      Did I write that “because I did not see it, therefore it did not exist”? No. Where in the world are you coming up with that? I didn’t see any of the abuse, but I don’t need to have seen it to know it happened, because I was in the courtroom for some of the trials and heard the testimony, and the verdicts. Some of the victims came to me for advice before they went to the police. And yes, I believed them.

      “Anecdotal evidence by your family and friends”…where to begin with that? Re-read what I wrote. The ONLY point I was making was that while it seems some thought it “well known” that Father Lunney was a “lecher”, many of us never heard anything of the sort. If it upsets you to know that some people had never heard any of the allegations about Father Lunney, I have no idea what to say to you. Are you saying that because you, or any number of people, heard something, or knew something, that everybody must have known, or heard, the same allegations? So, please, stop saying that we must have been aware. We weren’t. That doesn’t mean the allegations weren’t true. It just means this is the first time we heard about them. Okay?

      To finish: you seem so bent on arguing and anger that you are missing what is important. You generate more heat than light. You want a fight. Okay. But stop fighting with someone who agrees with you on so many things. Save your energy for those who would deny that abuse ever took place.

      Here’s where we agree:

      1. The priests who abused did terrible things to young people and their families, and those are lifelong scars and battles.

      2. Those in the Church who protected the abusers, covered up for them, and moved them to new hunting grounds so they could do it again and again, are the worst criminals in this whole sordid affair.

      3. We will never know how many priests abused, and whose actions were covered up. So many stories of those who were abused will never be told. Some who were abused will take their stories to the grave. That is unbearably sad and awful.

      4. Those who have come forward to speak about being abused are unbelievably courageous. They pay a second price when they do so. Which is why so many never will come forward. The emotional cost is so high.

      5. This stain on the Church causes Catholics to doubt their faith, or at least to doubt the shepherds of the Church, which hurts those Catholics as well. It also stains priests who have not done anything wrong, as every priest now comes under suspicion that they either committed abuse or enabled or covered it up.

      Hopefully, you will read this all the way through, and realize that you and I agree on the most important things in this mess, and that the only thing we experienced differently was when we heard about the allegations.

      • Dan Shields says:

        Father Leonard Lunney was the boss at Pius for a long time.

        The buck stopped at his door.

        If myself (and countless others) knew to
        steer clear of Fathers Crampton, Haley,
        Nugent, Baxter, Keeler and others because they
        were sexual predators and/or violent men,
        surely Len Lunney did too.

        Dan Shields

        • PiusGrad says:

          And now Father Baxter and Father Nugent get dragged in and lumped with priests who were tried and convicted of sexual abuse.

          I knew this would happen. I have visited this site rarely over the past few years, for two reasons. One was because it is sad to see just how many priests were abusers and how much damage they have wrought to countless people. The second reason is that at some point in any discussion thread, someone will lump together priests who were charged, tried and convicted, and other priests who were never charged, or tried, or convicted.

          It might be acceptable to some to do this. It isn’t to me. It is wrong to do so.

          So I leave this site for another couple of years, at least, and maybe for good. Probably for the best. I’m not a ‘good fit’ with many of those who make comments on this site.

          • Dan Shields says:

            I used the words “..violence…” which is what
            both Fathers Baxter and Nugent were.

            I recall witnessing Wild Bill Nugent interrupting a mass he
            was celebrating to go out in to the congregation
            and punch a boy out who wasn’t paying enough

            Quasimodo Paul Baxter also liked to hit

            PiusGrad virtually everyone experienced
            violence at the school either first hand
            or as a witness.

            The teachers knew and choose to allow
            it to go on because that was the way it was.

            Child abuse is child abuse. Personally I am
            on the record as being anti child abuse.

            Dan Shields.

          • Nilan25 says:

            I personally was hit by Father Nugent twice, also this weird cuddle thing he used to do that was both threatening and unhealthy. No question, it was child abuse. I cannot speak to Baxter a I liked him but he was a clear rageaholic and did hit students. That is inexcusable. how can you excuse the trauma inflicted and the known psychological damage that this group of predators have wrought. There was a teaching nun I knew Sister Wadsworth that would hit and pull hair. Can’t imagine how many counselling and physchiatric sessions the behaviour of sick people in charge of children has wrought.

  12. cshalen says:

    I can only say,,,rest in hell. I’ve waited maNy years to hear that he has passed!

  13. Nilan25 says:

    I will second that.

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