Published Tuesday November 2nd, 2010
[Sylvia note: Charle’s Picot’s acquittal on charges related to the Michel Jensen allegations has been appealed. The N.B. Court of Appeal has reserved its decision]
BATHURST – Two men who were sexually abused by a northern New Brunswick priest as children are calling for an overhaul of Catholic Church practices which they allege still present the potential for the sexual abuse of children to remain hidden.
Lowell Mallais and Conrad Brideau said Monday that financial compensation does not ensure that such abuse will never happen again.
The comments came as former Supreme Court justice Michel Bastarache met privately on Monday with the bishop of the diocese of Bathurst to present his recommendations for compensation for victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in northern New Brunswick.
Bastarache, now an Ottawa-based lawyer, was tasked in April with preparing a compensation package for the victims, including those abused by Lévi Noël, the retired Roman Catholic priest who pleaded guilty last October to 22 sex-related charges involving 18 boys stemming as far back as the 1960s.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison. The report will advise Bishop Valery Vienneau how much should be paid to the victims. Mallais and Brideau were two of Noël’s victims.
“We don’t want this to happen again and there is nothing to say that it won’t happen again,” Mallais said on Monday from his home in Tracadie-Sheila.
“There are too many risks.
“We don’t want any altar boys or altar girls serving mass or in that confession box until they are 18 years old.”
Brideau added: “I cannot trust the people that are responsible for these crimes to fix them.”
Mallais and Brideau were among roughly 45 people who contacted Bastarache over the past few months, stepping forward as victims.
But, dissatisfied with the process, both are a part of a group of nine who decided to forgo Bastarache’s recommendations and are likely to seek compensation through the courts.
“We were not asked to participate in the review of protocol,” Mallais said.
“I want all people that Lévi Noël abused to get help, like we’re getting right now,” Brideau said.
Michael Jensen, who has also stepped forward as a victim, hopes the diocese will make Bastarache’s report public while also pushing for further criminal investigations.
“I fully expect that Bishop Vienneau will make the report public and that he will hand over the names of all the accused to the RCMP immediately,” Jensen said Monday.
“I also expect and hope that he will remove any priests who may still be practising and then tell the public why this has been done.” It is unknown whether the report will be made public.
Jensen has testified in court that Charles Picot, who is in his 60s and worked as a priest throughout the northern part of the province until the 1990s, allegedly committed indecent assault against him as a 13-year-old boy in Dalhousie in 1975. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Jean-Paul Ouellette found Picot not guilty of the allegation in March.
In 1993, Picot was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and one count of indecent assault. He was sentenced to seven months in jail.
Both Bastarache and Vienneau were unavailable for comment on Monday.
Bastarache’s recommendations will start the process for the second major class-action settlement over abuse committed by members of the Catholic Church in Atlantic Canada.
In August 2009, the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia settled a class-action lawsuit over abuse claims with $13 million set aside for the victims of Hugh Vincent MacDonald. He was facing 27 charges involving 18 children when he died in 2004.