“Former Hamilton priest facing jail sentence on sex crimes” and comments

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The Hamilton Spectator

14 April 2012

JAMES BOUDREAU Former Catholic priest James Boudreau before his appearance earlier this year at Guelph’s Ontario Court of Justice. Boudreau is to be sentenced next month for sexually assaulting two boys in the 1980s.

Scott Tracey, The Guelph Mercury

GUELPH One of the sex assault victims of defrocked former Hamilton and later Guelph priest James Boudreau says his life spiraled downward from the abuse like a blow from a “wrecking ball” from which he still hasn’t recovered.

“It left me completely devastated and forever changed,” the victim, who cannot be identified, said in a victim impact statement offered Friday at a sentencing hearing in Guelph for Boudreau. To this day, he struggles with depression, isolation, loss of faith, despair and shame, court heard. He’s lost friends and fears his identity becoming public.

Boudreaux is the former pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Stoney Creek

The victim, 17 at the time of the offence, during the 1980s, termed the assault “an act of betrayal,” from a priest he greatly admired. “I became the unwitting victim of a cunning aggressor” who wanted him for “his perverse sexual pleasure,” court was told.

There were clashes Friday over the appropriate penalty for the former St. John The Baptist Catholic Church priest. Crown prosecutor Steve Hamilton urging the court to issue a jail term and defense attorney Roger Yachetti, of Hamilton, suggested a conditional sentence would be an appropriate disposition.

After a lengthy day of submissions, Justice Gary Hearn adjourned sentencing of Boudreau, who earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of sexually assaulting the boys almost 30 years ago, when they were 15 and 17 years old.

“This is a very difficult sentencing,” Hearn said, in putting it over to May 28.

The short, goateed Boudreau, 69, expressed regret when Hearn offered an opportunity to address the court.

“I have great remorse over events of the past . . . and I am truly sorry,” Boudreau said, describing his action’s as “scandalous” to the Catholic Church’s local Hamilton Diocese. The courtroom appeared divided Friday, with supporters of the ex-priest on one side, victim family members on the other, as defense and prosecution presented sentencing options.

In 1983 at his rectory, Boudreau sexually touched a 15-year-old boy, court heard on a previous court date. A year later, he engaged in oral sex with his other victim.

Yachetti noted Boudreau resigned as a priest when a bishop asked him to after he admitted the offences, an act that also preserved his church pension.

He also pointed to a psychological report that asserted Boudreau was not a pedophile and referred to numerous letters of support for the former priest that described him as inspirational, compassionate and understanding.

“Jimmy, we are here for you,” he quoted one woman’s letter.

Five character witnesses throughout the region, including retired Father Edward Hampson, of Dundas, testified Friday that Boudreau was honorable, funny, “nice” and deserving of respect.

“I would trust him with my life, would trust him with my family,” Hampson said. “My opinion of who he is has not changed.”

That was a theme among the witnesses: they were willing to forgive.

In fact, friend Wendy Bedirian, of Kitchener, went further, suggesting he’d suffered enough with his loss of reputation and position with the church.

“He’s been destroyed,” Bedirian said.

Yachetti pondered how to reconcile these kind words with the crimes, before offering an explanation.

“It was a failure of humanity — my client’s humanity,” Yachetti said.

“No question the offences here are serious,” Yachetti told the judge. But he suggested mitigating circumstances, including the decades since the offences and their isolated nature.

“There is no (criminal) record here of any kind,” he said. Boudreau has generally “led a good life.”

Yachetti also suggested the former priest had suffered tremendously. “What he has brought upon himself is a lifetime of vilification and humiliation.”

In jail, he would be a target. “I can almost guarantee it,” Yachetti added.

But Hamilton said the victims mustn’t be forgotten. They were boys at the time and “the facts are very aggravating.” He said Boudreau was in a position of trust when the crimes occurred. Hamilton added the fact the younger boy had suffered sexual abuse in an earlier, unrelated case made matters worse.

The prosecutor also said Boudreau’s assaults on the boys appeared to escalate in severity from the first instance to the second. Boudreau, he said, “has left two men emotionally scarred.”

“This case,” Hamilton said, “calls out for a traditional jail sentence.”

Monsignor Vincent Kerr, Chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton said in a statement after Boudreau was arrested by Guelph police 12, 2011, that a letter was sent to all the affected parishes.

Kerr said at the time that Boudreau had a clean record and described him as “an extrovert” with a “certain style” and “effusive personality.”

In 1978, Boudreau was ordained in the United States into the Barnabite Catholic order, Kerr said.

He began his career the same year at St. John the Baptist in Guelph as an associate pastor. He remained there until 1985, when he was sent to St. James Roman Catholic Church in Oakville, where he stayed until 1989.

From 1989 to 1996, Boudreau worked at Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Stoney Creek, where he became a full pastor.

He was a pastor at St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church in Burlington from 1996 to 2002, St. John’s Catholic Church in Kitchener from 2002 to 2009 and, finally, at Canadian Martyrs Roman Catholic Church in Hamilton in 2009.

He retired in December that year and was living in Hamilton

With files from The Hamilton Spectator

The Guelph Mercury

User Comments

  • By: HaroldSimson
    Apr 14, 2012 9:25 PM Way to go Father Edward Hampson of Dundas!!!  I’m totally with you, Father Hampson! I welcome sex offenders, and my family welcomes sex offenders too, just like you did in court. And all of the followers of the pedophile priest, let’s welcome sex offenders to your own sons and grandsons! Way to go, you followers of Father James Boudreau!
  • By: chancer
    Apr 14, 2012 8:50 PM …and tomorrow moning will come  …and the sheep will attend Mass tomorrow and pretend that this behaviour is acceptable. As they have for generations. Sweep the abuse and hatred under the carpet. Hypocrisy at its best. To prove it, watch for all of “disagree” points this posting will get.
  • By: DavidMacoy
    Apr 14, 2012 8:25 PM Father Edward Hampson supports a Sex offender!!! Really???  Father Boudreau asked the court for Community Service instead of real jail time. Who as a Community member wants to be served by sex offenders? Also, he apparently owns a condo in Hamilton, so Father Boudreau’s master plan seems to be to take the pension from Hamilton Diocese and stay in his condo to serve house arrest. What a great punishment for a Pedophile! His only regret must be that his crimes were caught, only 2 victims right now but I bet there were more boys that he abused. His life and his supporters, especially Father Edward Hampson of Dundas, are all Total hypocrisy!
  • By: andrew9
    Apr 14, 2012 7:24 PM Community Service by a Pedophile???  We don’t want sex offenders serving in our communities. We need to protect our children from the likes of him. He should be in a real jail instead of doing community service crap. Also, who knew that as a priest he could own a condo in Hamilton?! Apparently his biggest priority is keeping the pension that he gets from Hamilton Diocese so he could stay in his condo to serve house arrest. That’s not punishment at all. Total hypocrisy!
  • By: renalcolic
    Apr 14, 2012 5:13 PM The Hypocrisy is Institutional  Unfortunately, for all the fantastic good that the Catholic church has done around the world, both historically and presently the Catholic church has also negatively role modelled hypocrisy and has institutionalized the notion of talking a good talk but not walking the walk. Seriously, I can only guess at what Jesus would say regarding all the $$billions in real estate & assets the Catholic church sits on while so many people in the world go hungry. So its not surprising that amidst this fundamental incongruency (that comes from Rome itself) that so many Catholic priests seem to have trouble containing their sinful impulses. I can only imagine Jesus confronting the Pope saying something like this with a young malnourished Ethiopian child at his side, “So Pope, you mean to say that in spite of the fact that I have blessed you and your organization with all these riches and resources that you preach my gospel day in and day out while this poor child suffers? Which Bible are you reading from my friend?
  • By: gizmo79
    Apr 14, 2012 2:26 PM @Razmus & @rjpotter  @Razmus – not a very good obersvation for a few reasons: a) abuse is not just found in religion; b) Hindu and Muslim cultures have vastly different norms than ours, so what he has done would not be considered abuse in their eyes. Countless reports have come out about child brides and actions that we consider abusive. @rjpotter – aside from the accomplice part I agree fully with you. Abuse of anyone is not the same as say someone who drove while drinking one time and made a mistake. Punishment must fit the crime.
  • By: AlSimmons
    Apr 14, 2012 12:45 PM   Check the computers of all supporters. Friends usually have common interests. To support him is to support his acts.
  • By: SteelSpider
    Apr 14, 2012 12:41 PM What a crock!  All his supports saying he has suffered enough already?! In this type of case I would only wish there was a hell…so he could rot there. He destroyed the lives of the boys he MOLESTED…a crime, and indeed a terribly sick one! They had looked up to him and trusted him. He needs to to do the time, and the church should be bending over backwards to assist them with counselling and other aids they probably now require now due to this slimy man’s actions towards them. Unacceptable and definitely inexcusable!
  • By: chicosgirl
    Apr 14, 2012 12:18 PM   How could anyone support him!!! This is beyond belief, he MOLESTED young trusting men and basically ruined them for life, he deserves prison, he must pay for his crimes, yes CRIMES !!! These people supporting this man need to give their heads a shake, of course he is remorsful now, after he was caught and charged and if no one ever stepped forward this now old man would still me MOLESTING young children. Send him to jail !!!!


  • By: Razmus
    Apr 14, 2012 12:17 PM   Just an observation but isn’t is funny that its only Christian religions this problem occurs? One has to think Muslims, Hindus & the rest cover their tracks better or sweep the dirt under the rug in a superior fashion. Now I guess its not nice to say such things is it because Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek?
    • By: Razmus
      Apr 14, 2012 12:17 PM   Just an observation but isn’t is funny that its only Christian religions this problem occurs? One has to think Muslims, Hindus & the rest cover their tracks better or sweep the dirt under the rug in a superior fashion. Now I guess its not nice to say such things is it because Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek?
    • By: rjpotter
      Apr 14, 2012 10:33 AM Letters of support?  Who in their right mind could write or say something nice about this person.. Priest or not, his life should be forfeit the second he, or anyone abuses a child. Any supporter is an accomplice to his criminal act.
    • By: justaguy
      Apr 14, 2012 10:16 AM FINALLY!  FINALLY! GOOD LUCK IN PRISON!

2 Responses to “Former Hamilton priest facing jail sentence on sex crimes” and comments

  1. I'm just sayin says:

    First and foremost, I do not condone what Fr. Jim has done, in any way, shape or form. I am also not saying that the bad should out-weigh the good; however, he has done a lot of good. Most importantly, the Catholic Church does not ordain saints….they ordain regular people……and some regular people have flaws, serious flaws. Let’s trust the courts will do the just thing, it’s not our place to judge others……I’m just sayin.

  2. anonymous says:

    Where is Fr. James Boudreau serving his time?

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