R. v. Bennett

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R. v. Bennett 

Between

Her Majesty the Queen, and

Kevin Joseph Bennett

83 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 182

[1990] N.J. No. 162

DRS 91‑02311

1990 G.B. Nos. 1 and 26

 

Newfoundland Supreme Court ‑ Trial Division

Easton J.

May 28, 1990

 

  Criminal law ‑‑ Gross indecency ‑‑ Priest ‑‑ Sexual abuse of altar boys ‑‑ Guilty plea ‑‑ Sentencing principles –Treatment ‑‑ Rehabilitation ‑‑ Incarceration ‑‑ Specific and general deterrence.

 Accused was charged with 36 counts of gross indecency involving boys aged between 11 and 14 years.  The accused was a Roman Catholic priest at the material time spanning a period between 1961 to 1981.  The victims were altar boys in parishes where the accused had served as a priest and as a boy scout leader.  He pleaded guilty to the charges.  Many of the victims of the offences have had profound devastating and far reaching social and psychological problems as a consequence of their experience with the accused.  At least one dropped out of school as a direct response to the sexual abuse and another ran away from home and had only returned twice since 1968.  The accused pleaded guilty to all 36 charges and the main issue concerned sentencing.

   HELD:  In this case, specific and general deterrence was the dominant factor to be considered.  The accused had not been involved in any sexually deviant conduct for years after he was exposed and this would obviate the need for rehabilitation.  It showed that the accused could have exercised self‑discipline.  The accused’s conduct was even more repugnant and reprehensible when one considered that he was in a position of trust in the society.  For this reason, a lengthy period of incarceration was warranted and the accused was sentenced to four years imprisonment.  The otherwise good character of the accused and his remorse carried little weight when the offences involved numerous criminal acts deliberately planned over a lengthy period of time.

STATUTES, REGULATIONS AND RULES CITED:

  Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C‑46, ss. 149, 157, 421(b).

CASES CONSIDERED:

  R. v. Collins (1986) 59 Nfld. & P.E.I.R., p. 316.

  R. v. Greening (1987) 68 Nfld. & P.E.I.R., p. 201

  R. v. Hoskins (1987) 63 Nfld. & P.E.I.R., p. 111.

  R. v. Sparkes (Unreported case).

  R. v. Corrigan (Unreported).

  R. v. Wells (1985) 53 Nfld. & P.E.I.R., p. 223.

  R. v. Hickey (1988) 74 Nfld. & P.E.I.R., p. 70.

  R. v. Crampton (1987) 22 O.A.C., 47.

  R. v. Atkins (1987) 63 Nfld. & P.E.I.R., p. 271. 

 No counsel mentioned. 

EASTON J. (orally):‑‑ Kevin Joseph Bennett is a 57 year old ordained roman catholic priest.  He completed his grade 11 education at St. Joseph’s and St. Michael’s school in St. George’s, Newfoundland in 1950.  He then attended St. Bon’s in St. John’s for the year 1952‑53.  From 1954 to 1961 he attended St. Augustine’s seminary in Toronto, Ontario studying for the priesthood.  He was ordained in 1961.  From 1961 up to the time of his arrest he had been employed as a parish priest in different parishes throughout Newfoundland carrying out all of the normal pastoral duties associated with the position. 

From the pre‑sentence report which this court requested it appears that Kevin Bennett is in good physical health and has not had any major illnesses.  He was given a complete examination in March of 1989 prior to entering a facility known as Southdown in Aurora, Ontario, which is operated by the roman catholic church.  Apparently he spent a total of 9 days there. From the time that he was released from Southdown until his incarceration at her Majesty’s penitentiary he has not had any occasion to undergo psychiatric counselling.  However, it appears that since becoming incarcerated he has been seeing Dr. Nizar Ladha. 

  Kevin Joseph Bennett was charged with and pleaded guilty to 36 charges of offences under sections 149, 157 and 421(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada.  34 of the charges are for gross indecency and there are two charges of attempts of gross indecency.  Without exception of all of the complainants were alta rboys in various parishes in which Mr. Bennett was the priest.  The offences occurred when the boys were between the ages of 11 years and 14 years of age.  Twelve of the charges occurred between January 1, 1964 and December 31, 1969, while 24 charges arose between January 1, 1965 and January 1, 1981.

Mr. Bennett was convicted by this court on all 36 charges.  

  It should be noted that all offences occurred while Mr. Bennett was serving as a priest in various parishes throughout Newfoundland but mostly on the west and south coast of the island part of the province.  It must also be noted that most of the charges involved not one but a series of incidents over a period of time.  The offences consisted of fondling of the boys’ genitals, sexual rubbing of the accused’s body against those of the boys, masturbation by the boys of Mr. Bennett and on occasions he of them.

   In my view, it would serve little purpose to review in excruciating detail each of the incidents of sexual abuse.  The pattern was quite clear.  In most, if not all parishes not only was Father Bennett the priest, he was also a boy scout leader. In addition, he would take some of the altarboys who played in a band on trips when they would perform at local events.  The boys were also taken on field trips as scouts and on occasions they stopped at a cabin owned by the accused.  The offences occurred at various places including the rectory in various parishes, at the cabin and occasionally even in the homes of the complainants if the accused slept there overnight.

   From the various statements read into the record by consent, its seems that typically the accused would have one or more boys stay overnight at the rectory.  He supplied liquor and food and when bedtime came one of the boys would be designated to go to the accused’s bedroom where he would shortly be joined by the accused.  There was never any suggestion that the accused drank to excess or that he was even intoxicated.  There was no suggestion of violence.  With some of the boys this type of activity went on for prolonged periods.  In one case one of the complainants stated that it occurred once or twice a month for a three to five year period.  One of the complainants stated that he slept with the accused at least 30 times and on each occasion there would be fondling of the genitals and/or masturbation. 

  The evidence also discloses that as time went on, the altarboys involved would talk among themselves about what was going on.  There were occasions when the accused would ask the boys while at the rectory which one would sleep with him that night.  If no one responded, the accused would toss a coin to select which boy would sleep with him.  Most of the offences occurred at the rectories while there were a number of boys staying overnight with the accused supplying liquor, beer, chips, etc.  There was also evidence that the accused paid the boys well for doing odd jobs, but there was also evidence from the testimony of one complainant that the priest would sometimes pay the boys to stay overnight at the rectory – the amount paid was usually about five dollars.

  From the evidence it seems that most of the boys kept the incidents of sexual abuse or attempted sexual abuse to themselves. In one case one of the boys waited for years after his marriage before he finally told his wife.  There were occasions when some of the boys told their mothers about the incidents, but they were not believed.  Typical of the evidence was that of one complainant who said that the community of St. Bernards was a very religious town and “Father Bennett was a very respected man” and he didn’t think that anyone including his parents would believe him.  It was generally considered an honour to be asked to spend time at the rectory.  There was one occasion when a complainant was reluctant to go to the rectory but was coaxed by his mother until he finally consented to go. On one occasion one of the complainants finally told his mother about the incident.  This was years later but he was still told by his mother “not to say anything about the priest”.  On another occasions one of  the complainants said that he felt what he was doing was wrong, but that his father and the accused were “really close friends” and he felt that if he told anyone he would not be believed.

  One complainant did tell his parents the very next day after an incident occurred and he then quit as an altarboy.  One other complainant said that he went along with the fondling because he was told that “God would love him more” and that the camping trips might end.  Another complainant dropped out of school because of fear that someone might find out about the incidents.  He also ran away from home and has only returned twice since the incidents occurred in 1968. 

  It has been stated repeatedly and quite correctly that no two cases are alike and while all aspects of the principles of sentencing must be considered, the balancing of these principles is always difficult.  I have read and considered all of the cases referred to me by counsel as well as others found in my own research.  All of the cases considered are attached as an appendix to this sentence and I will refer only to the specific cases to illustrate or highlight certain findings pertinent to the sentence in this case. 

  Dr. Ladha, a very respected forensic psychiatrist in this province gave evidence in this case.  He has testified in both the Provincial and Supreme Courts in this province on numerous occasions especially where the accused has exhibited various forms of sexual deviation.  I think it is fair to say that as a general rule ‑‑ probably oversimplified ‑ Dr. Ladha recommends treatment rather than incarceration, or shorter periods of incarceration followed by treatment while on probation, and on what he describes as “the legal leash”. 

  In his report Dr. Ladha states that Father Bennett quote “shows evidence of homosexual hebophilia, that is sexual attraction towards young post pubertal boys.  He is also a heterosexual and has had normal sexual intercourse with an adult woman” unquote.  In viva voce examination Dr. Ladha confirmed that Father Bennett had had a continuing sexual relationship with an adult female for a two year period.  He could not tell the court exactly when this two year period occurred, but it was during the time he served as a priest in one of the smaller parishes in this province. 

  As in other cases Dr. Ladha described the treatment normally prescribed for persons diagnosed as being homosexual or heterosexual pedophiles or hebophiles.  Usually, the treatment consists of drugs taken to reduce the sexual urge combined with a therapeutic program aimed at behavioral modifications attempting to curb sexually deviant impulses.  Significantly, he did not feel that Father Bennett needed to take any drugs. I have concluded from his evidence that the doctor did not feel that it was necessary to administer drugs since he pointed out in his report and in his verbal testimony “this man has not engaged in sexual crimes or other forms of interpersonal sexuality for at least the past nine years”. 

Evidence disclosed that the police investigation into the accused’s activities was extremely thorough and it is probably accurate to surmise that had the accused been involved in sexual deviant practices of a criminal nature, they would have come to light and other additional charges would have been laid. 

In response to questioning Dr. Ladha theorized that the accused may have stopped his deviant behaviour because he was afraid he would be found out.  In fact, it came out at the trial that one of the victims went to the archbishop who referred the matter to the bishop that he be taken out of parish work.  Father Bennett was however transferred to another parish.  In response to a direct question by counsel for Father Bennett whether this would be one reason “why in fact his activities ceased at that time” Dr. Ladha replied “yes, that would be a good reason why somebody in the position that Father Bennett was in would stop this kind of activity”. 

  Dr. Ladha testified that Father Bennett categorically denies any attraction to adult males.  He told the doctor however that he does have a preference for young boys.  In response to a direct question by the court “does the fact that he was leading a celibate life and was denied normal heterosexual activities with a female, would this in any way contribute to the fact that he may have engaged in homosexual activities”. 

  Dr. Ladha answered “yes, my lord, it’s a very important point to consider because if you look at his sexual practices and again what he’s telling us is right and what the police have uncovered is correct, his sexual activities with young boys didn’t start until he was in his 30s, early 30s.  It suggests that more than likely he’s really heterosexual more than he’s a homosexual hebophile.  More than likely that at some stage in his life in this case in the early 30s he could not control his sexual urges”.

  Dr. Ladha testified that Father Bennett as a teenager felt sexually attracted to girls.  There was no attraction to boys in adolescence.  The doctor pointed out that these disorders start in adolescence.  He concluded on this point that quote “it would lead me to believe, my Lord, that this man’s basic orientation is heterosexual” unquote.  Dr. Ladha also gave his opinion that had not Father Bennett chosen a celibate life he would more than likely have developed a heterosexual relationship rather than sexual practices with boys.  He concluded that if he (Father Bennett) “had had access to adult women then it’s likely that he would have developed more heterosexual type of practice”. 

  In attempting to assist the court Dr. Ladha was questioned generally about the defining or diagnosing of various types of sexually deviant behaviour.  He gave as an example a male person who may be sexually aroused by other males, but cannot practice their preference because of personality problems or for professional reasons.  His sexual release may then be obtained by choosing young victims who are readily available. This he defined as “surrogate” sexual activity.  He went on to say that a person may be pedophile or a hebophile and never practice it.  He also said that “there are people who have sexually assaulted children but they are not sexually attracted to children per se.  It is a ‘surrogate’ type of activity. They are homosexual.  Dr. Ladha then said that: 

 “There are people who get involved in homosexual activity,  not because they are homosexual, but it becomes a surrogate activity because there is absence of women or the opposite around.”

  I have gone to great lengths to examine Dr. Ladha’s evidence since it is essential to weigh it very carefully.  Counsel for the accused are urging the court to give a short sentence of incarceration followed by a three year supervised probationary period to allow for treatment.  Crown counsel asked for a long period of incarceration stressing specific and general deterrence. 

  I have no difficulty in distinguishing (if it is necessary) the Collins case which has often been referred to from the case at bar.  Collins was a true pedophile who, prior to his arrest had sought psychiatric help.  The Court of Appeal in that case felt that a proper sentence was two years imprisonment followed by three years of supervised probation since the accused was in need of medical treatment which he could not get while in prison.  There the court noted that heterosexual pedophiles as in the Collins case, are more susceptible to treatment than are homosexual pedophiles.  That conclusion was confirmed in the case at bar by Dr. Ladha. 

  Another leading case in this province is R. vs. Atkins there, Hickman, c.J. sentenced the accused to three years in prison. The accused had pleaded guilty of sexually assaulting four female children and indecently assaulting four female children aged eight to eleven with one of the latter group being a girl of 16. The Court of Appeal varied this to two years followed by three years of probation.  However, it is important to recognize that the appellant had spent nine months in custody prior to sentencing and that this “when combined with the sentence of three years imposed by the trial judge can be considered as equivalent to a term of imprisonment of more than four years”.  These are the remarks of Chief Justice Goodridge of the Appeal Court found at page 104 of the reported case. 

  In contrasting this case with the Atkins case it can be seen that while there are some similarities, there are significant differences.  In the Atkins case the accused was not in a position of trust.  Secondly, he was an alcoholic and while this does not at all excuse any of his actions, that condition may have contributed to his propensity to abuse children. Father Bennett has no drinking problem.  Indeed, one of the witnesses called to attest to his character took pains to emphasize how little the accused partook of alcohol.  Thirdly, and probably most importantly, according to Dr. Ladha testifying, in the Atkins case, Mr. Atkins while appreciating the illegality of his acts, did not see it as wrong for himself, describing his relationship with the children as warmth and friendship rather than sex.  In his report to this court Dr. Ladha said of Father Bennett “his view of his sexual offences is that he has done wrong” and that “he views the expression of his sexuality with guilt, sorrow and regret”. 

  I am by no means chiding the accused for these feelings as they indicate his remorse but I am merely pointing out that unlike Atkins father Bennett was not deluding himself into believing that what he was doing was not wrong.  In the Atkins case the offences also occurred over a period of seven years and involved seven female children.  Here the offences span some 17 years and involve some 32 young boys.  Father Bennett was in a position of trust as a priest, a position of trust as a boy scout leader, and in a position of trust as friend of the families whose children he abused.  

  It should also be noted that in the Atkins case the 8 charges of sexual assault covered the years 1978 to 1986 and involved touching of the female breasts and vagina outside the clothing.

It involved young girls aged 8 to 12 and one of 16 years of age. There the Court of Appeal found that Mr. Atkins was not a true pedophile but concluded that he was an alcoholic.  Also in that case Goodridge, C.J.N. speaking for the Court of Appeal said at page 104: 

In this case, the biological and psychiatric factors play a lesser role than in other cases such as Collins.  The appellant is not a true pedophile.  One of the assaults was committed against a girl who was then 16 years old.   Moreover, he had a relationship with an adult female.  If the wanted sexual gratification, he could have been accommodated by a willing, mature person.  This is not an option available to a true pedophile, who is repelled by thoughts of adult relationships.

 While parroting the words of other judges may indicate ones’ inability to articulate ones’ own thoughts, nevertheless, there are occasions when comments are so universally accepted that they can almost be adopted as a truism.  In that respect I consider the observations of Goodridge, C.J.N.  In R. v. Kelly as being particularly appropriate.  I quote from that case: 

In cases of this nature, breach of trust is a major factor.  It has always been regarded seriously by the court.

 There are two classes of people outside the family with whom young children will almost inevitably have contact as they grow up.  These are clergymen and teachers.  Society generally and parents particularly must have confidence that these people are worthy of the trust that is placed in them.  They are essential to the very foundation of our society.  They are almost as important as the parents in the formation of young lives.

Where one from either of these groups commits a sexual assault upon a child entrusted to him, he offends against the child, the child’s parents and all society.  The child     is disillusioned and may become apprehensive of all teachers, clergy and others in authority.  Parents are concerned as to whether the children can be safely entrusted to such persons, all of whom are so important to the development of a child.

Clergymen and teachers must act with the utmost good faith.  When they do not, they must pay the price – Not only to be deterred themselves, but so that others in positions of trust will also be deterred.

Although it is not possible to state a universal rule for sentencing, it may be said that such a breach of trust generally calls for a custodial sentence. 

And again Mr. Justice Goodridge said: 

In this case, deterrence, both specific and general, is the dominant factor and a custodial term is indicated.

Rehabilitation, while it must not be overlooked, is a subordinate factor.  The court has no evidence that anything more than self‑discipline is required. Nevertheless, continued treatment is southdown should not be ruled out.

There are cases where general deterrence must rank ahead of rehabilitation.  And, I am not even convinced that rehabilitation is required in this case.  It is clear that for the last 9 or 10 years Father Bennett has done nothing of a sexually deviant nature, or at least nothing that could be discovered by the police. Consequently, despite Dr. Ladha’s claim that the accused still needs treatment I am convinced that self discipline is in itself the answer and this has been demonstrated by the accused himself. Surely, if the accused could stop his sexual molestation of young boys once he was discovered and reported, he need not have resorted to it in the first instance.  His behaviour is even more repugnant and reprehensible when one considers that he engaged in sexually deviant acts when he was capable of a normal heterosexual relationship.  I am not forgetting, indeed I am relying on Dr. Ladha’s evidence, that the accused if he had had access to adult women could likely have pursued a normal heterosexual life.  

  I am by no means denigrating the vow of celibacy which Father Bennett took.  This is a sacred vow.  It is not sacred however to the point that the vow is observed while young children are abused.  If his basic sexual urges were causing him a problem he had a choice to make.  And that choice did not include sexually abusing young boys.  It is not speculating to say that the accused could have engaged in a heterosexual relationship. It is clear that for at least two years he carried on such a relationship, and according to Dr. Ladha, his basic orientation is heterosexual.  I find it inexcusable that having a basic heterosexual orientation, he still engaged in “surrogate sex” to satisfy his desires.  If, in making that observation I appear to be down playing some of Dr. Ladha’s findings, then so be it.  In the final analysis one in this unenviable position has to draw one’s own conclusions after, of course, full consideration of all of the relevant circumstances. 

  I turn not to an area that must be carefully considered. Victim impact statements were obtained from a number of victims and almost without exception they tell of the heart‑rending toll father Bennet’s activities took.  They tell of loss of faith, they tell of fear, frustration, emotional confusion, lost childhoods, bewilderment, doubt, anxiety and anger.  They tell of violation of their bodies and loss of their innocence. These are random quotes: 

I have never been able to trust and have always had difficulty expressing anger, love and happiness.  During early adulthood years I had much concern about my sexual orientation.  I feel I have missed 23 years of my life. It is only now, through counselling, (with Nancy White), that I have begun to untangle and express in words the anger and guilt, the years and the pain I have had bottled up inside  of me.  Indeed, it is only this year that I have realized how much anger and guilt I have carried around for the past years and the extent to which it has effected (sic) my relationships in all aspects of life.

Another victim writes:

 As I though about writing this statement, I have come to one realization.  If I had to list one category that would ranked as No. 1 in the damage dept.  It would have to be the “memory” aspect.  I can remember just as vividly now as I could 25 years ago just how and where it happened and how I felt at that time.  That is the one thing I will never  ever forgive Kevin Bennett for and that is for leaving me with that memory, a memory I would gladly have don without.

 Another writes:

 In my opinion because of the ordeal that I went through.   There is no justice to come close to what happened to me.

 Another victim tells of the problems experienced by he and his wife as he doubted his sexuality.  He says “I was wondering if I was gay, I was confused.  I mistrusted her and I felt that this may have been due to my fears.  It would have been one of my ways of covering up”.

 One of the victims wrote:

 I have sought therapy for my attitude towards myself several times, but the deep sense of shame, failure, and remains.  My harsh and bitter judgements of the rest of the world are charity itself compared to my  judgment of myself.

 Many of the victims talked of how much respect they had for Father Bennett and of how confused and ashamed they were. Others spoke of the fear they had of him and of their attempts to avoid being with him even though their parents in many cases encouraged them to be with him.  Others spoke of their loss of faith, their fear for their own children and their complete loss of trust in priests and in the church.  Other victims have had nightmares about him and another spoke poignantly of the memory of the ordeal which he says will never so away.

 I have quoted at length from some of the statements because there may be sometimes a tendency to minimize the sexual offences, because they are on what is called the lower range of the scale. They do not involve some of the more heinous and repulsive sexual acts.  Nevertheless, it is clear from these statements that these sexual offences had a profound, devastating and far reaching effect on all of the victims ‑‑ effects which last to this very day.

 Chief Justice Hickman in the Atkins case said that “unless the accused’s purported biological disorder is such that his criminal actions towards his victims were impulsive and incapable of being controlled by him, then his actions cannot be condoned by this court”.  Unquote.  In this case, quite frankly, I do not accept that the accused has a sexual biological disorder.  This, for reasons stated earlier. Consequently, I do not believe that treatment is in fact necessary, and even if some therapy is required surely there are resources available within the penal system to assist him. It must be remembered that in any event Dr. Ladha did not recommend the use of drugs.  It appears that one of the reasons why Dr. Ladha in this, as in other cases, is not in favour of long periods of incarceration is because it is difficult to give effective treatment in prison.  In the Collins case on appeal the court noted that Dr. Ladha “would be reluctant to apply the use of drugs while the patient was imprisoned because of their serious side effects” (p. 282 Morgan, J.A.). Presumably, Dr. Ladha would have the same view in this case, but as noted, in the case at bar, Dr. Ladha did not recommend the use of drugs but concentrated on the need for behavioral therapy to help eliminate sexual fantasies towards young boys and personal psychiatric therapy to deal with his feelings of guilt. 

J.A. in R. vs. Irwin (1980) 48 C.C.C. (2d) 423 said and I quote with approval his words: 

General deterrence is effected in part by imposing a sentence which affirms that certain conduct, which strikes at the core values in our society, is unacceptable.  The imposed is also directed at like‑minded individuals, that is, to persons who might otherwise be inclined to embark upon a similar calculated course of conduct involving young children. 

  Further, in the case of R. vs. B., 19 Alta. L.R. 245, Alberta Court of Appeal, Laycraft, J.A., at p. 246.

A principal factor in sentencing in this type of case where an offence against a child is committed by a parent, or person in the position of trust toward the child, is the need to express society’s denunciation of the conduct. We must also be conscious of our duty to protect young children by the deterrent aspect of sentencing.

In R. vs. Bonein (1980) 53 C.C.C. (2d) 257 the Ontario Court of Appeal reaffirmed that “incarceration properly expresses the abhorrence by the public and repudiation by the court of this conduct”.

  In R. vs. Crampton 22 O.A.C. 47 where a parish priest had pleaded guilty of seven counts of indecent assault over a ten year period, the Court of Appeal noting that the priest suffering from homosexual pedophilia and alcoholism found that the trial judge had erred in not imposing a custodial sentence. On page 52 the court said:

 We think that the trial judge erred in failing to give  weight to the following considerations:  the extreme form of breach of trust and, also, breach of authority, involved; the young ages and corresponding vulnerability of the victims at a very important time in their lives with respect to their sexual development; the impact of the on the victims and their families; and the fact that the offences took place over substantial period of time ‑‑ a ten year period.  With respect to this last this case is substantially different from one one or two isolated incidents.  Even taking into the effect of the mitigating factors to which reference has been made these considerations required the imposition of a custodial term.

   For the reasons stated I believe a lengthy period of incarceration is warranted in this case.  I find as a mitigating factor that the accused entered a guilty plea to all counts in this court, but I must also note that this plea was entered only after the preliminary enquiry was completed and a number of victims had given evidence.  I also take note the quite obvious remorse that Father Bennett has over what he has done.  I also note the many good works he did as a priest over all of these years.  This was attested to by a number of witnesses.  However, I believe that the case of R. vs. Basha decided by our courts and reported in (1978) 23 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 286 (C.A.) stands for the proposition that the good antecedents of the accused carry little weight when the offences involve numerous criminal acts deliberately planned over a lengthy period of time.

 I have also taken notice of the fact that there was never any violence directed towards the victims.  Considering the position Father Bennett was in however, it is hardly surprising that any violence would in any event be necessary in order to ensure compliance with his wishes. 

 In searching for factors which would mitigate a severe sentence, I can quite conscientiously only point to one other, and that is the fact that he finally stopped his sexual exploitation of these young boys.  Unfortunately, even that commendable act is tainted by the knowledge which we now have that this occurred only after his activities were known and reported.

 As against these rather fragile mitigating factors we have a 17 year old trail of sexually deviant behaviour extending from parish to parish and always in the same unswerving pattern. The accused in taking advantage of his position infiltrated the homes and emotions of families, he took advantage of the innocence, the gullibility and the vulnerability of young boys not yet emotionally equipped to deal with the onset of puberty. As an aside quite frankly, I have some difficulty in accepting the accused’s apparent fixation with post pubertal boys, to which Dr. Ladha alluded, since almost all of the boys here ranged in age from 11 to 14 years when the offences occurred. 

  There was also present in this case a cold, calculating unemotional factor which puts the sexual acts into a more reprehensible perspective.  I am referring to those occasions when the altarboys, knowing among themselves that they were being abused and fearful of the priest and of their parents, would refuse to volunteer, and would then be subjected to the ultimate humiliation and indignity of being the object of a coin toss. 

  I am keeping in mind the time that the accused has already spent awaiting the sentencing hearing and the sentence itself. Consequently, I am abbreviating the time to be imposed in the sentence.  Nevertheless, it is my sentence that the accused be committed to prison for a term of four years on the offences of gross indecency and 2 years on the attempts of gross indecency with the last sentence to be concurrent with the four years sentence already imposed on the charges of gross indecency.

 You are sentenced then to four years in prison.

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