28 May 2012
GUELPH — Former priest James Boudreau nodded to a handful of supporters as he was led out of a courtroom Monday to begin jail terms for two historic sexual assaults.
One jail term is 15 months in length. The second sentence is for a six-month term. It will run concurrently with the longer one.
“I believe it was on the harsh side,” defense attorney Roger Yachetti said, in a brief interview outside the Ontario Court of Justice room. He’ll seek instruction from Boudreau, but doubted an appeal will be launched.
Crown prosecutor Steve Hamilton termed Justice Gary Hearn’s decision “well reasoned” and “appropriate.”
Boudreau, 69, former St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church priest, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of sexual assault. In 1983, in his Guelph rectory, he fondled a 15-year-old boy. A year later, he engaged in reciprocal oral sex with a 17-year-old boy in his congregation.
In addition to the time in jail, Boudreau was placed on a national sex offender registry for 20 years, ordered to provide a DNA sample for an offender genetics databank and prohibited from having weapons for five years.
“Sex abuse of children is to be treated seriously,” Hearn said on sentencing.
“This is a difficult sentencing,” Justice Hearn told the court, pointing to both aggravating and mitigating factors.
Boudreau resigned as parish priest in 2010, when the incidents came to light.
Hearn said in the 1984 case, Boudreau shared several beers with the boy in his rectory, then gave him a massage and “the matter escalated from there.”
The victims provided statements to the court outlining the extended emotional traumas they’ve suffered. “Both statements are compelling,” Hearn said.
He added the younger victim has been unable to trust or feel comfortable around other people to this day. The older one remains plagued with “a deep sense of betrayal” and an unhappy, unstable life.
Hearn said Boudreau, who is remorseful and ashamed, is to be considered a first-time offender with rehabilitation prospects. He was a well-liked and respected priest before the crimes surfaced and has led an admirable life in the decades since the incidents, Hearn said. The offences were isolated crimes of opportunity representing a “gross” error in judgment, Hearn said.
“He does not in any way represent a danger to the community.”
But the justice also said Boudreau abused a position of authority as a pillar of the faith community and positive role model. Further, in all the intervening years, the priest never disclosed the offences to authorities, Hearn said.