“Abuse victim writes to the Pope” & related article

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Asks Francis to defrock priest who assaulted him and others

Sudbury Northern Life

By: Darren MacDonald –

23 October 2013 – 10:15 AM

Jerome Myre was 12 years old when he was sexually assaulted by Fr. Bernard Cloutier, a former Sudbury priest who was convicted in 2009 for assaulting five victims in the 1970s and 1980s. Myre has written Pope Francis to ask him to defrock the disgraced priest, who was denied parole last month. Arron Pickard photo.

Jerome Myre was 12 years old when he was sexually assaulted by Fr. Bernard Cloutier, a former Sudbury priest who was convicted in 2009 for assaulting five victims in the 1970s and 1980s. Myre has written Pope Francis to ask him to defrock the disgraced priest, who was denied parole last month. Arron Pickard photo.

Jerome Myre has written a letter to Pope Francis, and is hoping for a personal reply. While it’s a long shot, he’s got a better chance of hearing from the pontiff than most of us.

Myre was 12 years old when he was sexually abused by Fr. Bernard Cloutier, a former priest who was convicted in 2009 for incidents that took place in Sudbury, Espanola and Massey. Myre, who is allowing his name and face to be made public, was one of five victims abused between 1974 and 1983. He attended a parole hearing last month, where he and another victim read their victim impact statements, doing their part to ensure Cloutier, 71, serves his full sentence, which runs until Oct. 14, 2014.

While no longer a Catholic, Myre says he still believes in God. But not in a church that refuses to defrock priests who abuse children. So he’s written the Pope, asking for a change in policy.

“I think it would show some good faith to victims around the world,” Myre said. “To me, they shouldn’t have any status whatsoever.

“I hope he sends me a response. And I hope it’s from him, and not one of his flunkies in his office.”

Myre says the trip to the Pittsburgh Institute in Kingston – where Cloutier is being held – was more repetitious than cathartic. But he believes if they didn’t go, they might have set the disgraced priest free.

“So our duty as victims doesn’t ever seem to be really over.”

He was irked at the comfortable conditions at the facility, which he compared to low-income housing units in Sudbury. Inmates at the minimum-security facility have a 10:30 p.m. curfew, and live in row housing, with three people living in each row house.

“It’s very comfortable,” Myre said. “The fridges at the Pittsburgh Institute was probably fuller than a lot of the fridges in low-income housing in Sudbury.”

He noticed they wore normal clothes and were able to leave the grounds.

“I asked the warden, ‘Can the inmates just leave and go to Kingston?’ And she said they could, but there would be consequences,” Myre said. “I don’t think he’s really being taught a lesson, or being punished for what he did.

“When he was sentenced, he was sentenced to prison, not the Pittsburgh Institute.”

However, Myre said he had a good idea of what to expect before he got there. But he was surprised to learn that Cloutier has $300,000 in his bank, while his legal bills to defend a civil suit are being paid by the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie.

So he asked his lawyers to include a clause that would have Cloutier make a donation out of his own pocket to a charity that helps abused children.

“He has to pay something, he can’t just walk away from this,” Myre said. “But I’m not holding my breath.”

A mediation is scheduled next month with the victims’ lawyers, as well as lawyers from the diocese and the insurance company. Myre said it’s possible they could avoid a civil trial if they can reach an agreement then. Otherwise, a trial is scheduled for June 2014.

In denying Cloutier parole, the board cited his refusal to take responsibility for what he had done, and the impact it had on his victims. Myre said he just doesn’t seem to get it.

When they asked him if he accepted his guilt and the consequences, Myre said Cloutier mumbled.

“After mumbling and, really, beating around the bush, he really had no answer,” he said. “The only thing he agrees he did wrong was telling us how to masturbate, and that he gave us a little bit of alcohol.”

He’s also concerned that when Cloutier is released, he will vanish. He was supposed to live with a sister in North Bay, but she has since died. His brother is also fighting cancer, so Myre wonders – what will happen next October?

“He will be monitored for the first couple of years when he gets out,” he said. “But after that, we could lose track of where he is.”

As far as healing, Myre said that’s a process that never really ends. But seeing Cloutier serve his entire term in jail will be a step forward.

“I was the first of five victims to come forward, so, as far as I knew, I was going to be alone in facing all the proceedings,” Myre said. “That to me, along with the civil suit, will be closure for me. I can say that I was able to see the whole criminal process, from start to finish, and see it through. And, obviously, I wasn’t able to do that as a 12-year-old.”

Pittsburgh Institution

–Pittsburgh Institution is a minimum-security facility located 23 kms northeast of Kingston. It opened in 1963;
-Inmates are housed in 35 living units, including three reserved for private family visits. All offenders are males;
-It has a capacity to house 250 inmates, with work underway on a new, 50-bed living unit.
-Inmates can take correctional courses, further their education, take part in recreational activities and get job training, all intended to help them re-integrate into society once released.

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No early parole for disgraced Sudbury priest

The Sudbury Star

Monday, October 14, 2013 5:22:36 EDT PM

Carol Mulligan

Jerome Myre, 43, attended a hearing of the Parole Board of Canada at which a request for full parole by Bernard Cloutier was rejected.

Jerome Myre, 43, attended a hearing of the Parole Board of Canada at which a request for full parole by Bernard Cloutier was rejected.

A former Sudbury Roman Catholic priest has been denied full parole by the Parole Board of Canada two years into his five-year sentence.

Parole was denied partly because Bernard Cloutier isn’t accepting responsibility or showing remorse for sexually assaulting children as long as four decades ago.

Cloutier, 71, was convicted in July 2009 of four counts of indecent assault against a male, four acts of gross indecency and four sexual assault charges against four boys aged 13-16 years from 1974 until 1983.
He appealed those convictions, but they were upheld in July 2011.

One of Cloutier’s victims, Jerome Myre, now 43, travelled to Joyceville last month to present an impact statement to the Parole Board of Canada. He described how being abused by Cloutier when he was parish priest at L’Annonciation Church has affected his life.

Myre attended the hearing, along with another of Cloutier’s victim, and told board members Cloutier should serve his full sentence.

Priests like Cloutier “ruined children’s lives and altered their life courses,” said Myre, a locomotive operator for CP Rail.

He has been on sick leave from his job since February, trying to deal with the psychological aftermath of what happened to him as a boy and the stress of the parole hearing and a civil lawsuit.

You can’t be running locomotives when you lack focus, said Myre.

He travelled to Joyceville, 20 miles northeast of Kingston, for two reasons.

One was to speak against Cloutier being released on parole. The other was to see the facility, the Pittsburgh Institution, where the priest has been living since November 2011, after serving less than four months at the Millhaven Assessment Unit.

While Myre was relieved his abuser was denied parole, he was “disappointed” to find the priest living in a minimum security facility in a complex of townhouses where the freedom of about 200 inmates doesn’t seem to be limited.

Cloutier works full-time in the grocery store at the institution and, despite some health setbacks, remain mobile.
”The only concern noted by your parole officer is the lack of responsibility and insight you demonstrated for your offending,” the board wrote to Cloutier in its report.

While units at the Pittsburgh Institution are modest, they are better than many public housing units in Sudbury, Myre observed. In a unit he visited with a warden, Myre opened the fridge to find it so stocked with food, items almost fell out of it.

“I don’t think (Cloutier’s) been punished enough,” said Myre, who believes it would be more appropriate for perpetrators like the priest to do time in a prison cell.

“I’m in a prison where I’ll never be released,” said Myre.

He complained to his parents in 1983 when the abuse occurred. They took the matter to Sudbury police and to the bishop of Sault Ste. Marie diocese at the time, Gerald Dionne. Myre has said, and so have the courts, the matter was swept under the carpet by authorities.

Myre reported that Cloutier had plied him and another boy with alcohol and cigarettes, then sexually molested him.

At last month’s parole hearing, Myre said the priest would not admit to anything other than giving the boys beer and showing them how to masturbate.

In a pre-release decision by the Parole Board, board members said court documents suggest Cloutier and Dionne “covered up what you knew was a lie” and that Cloutier was “a participant in the interruption of the police investigation.”

Despite hearing the trauma that his victims have experienced, Cloutier has “consistently denied any responsibility for the sexual abuse,” the board said in the report.

“You have further stated the victims’ motivation for the false accusations was to seek compensation from the Catholic Church,” the board wrote.

Myre and at least a dozen other men have launched civil lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and several of its priests, Cloutier among them, for historic sexual abuse.

In the reasons for sentencing at Cloutier’s criminal trial, the judge considered aggravating factors such as the fact the priest had groomed his victims, was partly responsible for a cover-up, abused his position of trust as a priest and the young age of the victims, the parole board said in its report.

While Cloutier scores low on a recidivism test, that is offset by his denial he offended and his explanations that the board said were “neither believable nor plausible given the facts.”

The impact of his violence against children “haunts the victims to his very day,” said the board, and Cloutier “appear(s) oblivious or hardened to their plight.”

Cloutier has been identified as having deviant sexual interests “that remain untreated and as such you are an untreated sex offender.”

While unlikely to re-offend, “the triggers and contributing factors which caused you to offend in the manner you did remain unaddressed,” said the board.

“Your continuing denial and lack of credibility you continue to display calls into question your ability to (be) open and honest with those that would manage your risk in the community,” the board wrote.

Given that, the board concluded Cloutier would present an undue risk to society before his sentence expires.

No further parole hearings are scheduled before Cloutier’s release by the law on statutory review Oct. 14, 2014, the board said in a letter to Myre.

The priest can appeal the board’s Sept. 24 decision and if successful, another hearing for a full parole review would be scheduled.

In the meantime, Myre is angry his abuser is living in relative ease, and that he is still considered to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church.

Myre believes priests who have been criminally convicted as Cloutier has should no longer hold those positions in the Roman Catholic Church.

“Who do I have to contact to have (him) defrocked?” asked a distraught Myre.

carol.mulligan@sunmedia.ca

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