Couture: Father Robert Couture

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Couture Windsor Star pic

Photo by Dan Janisse/The Windsor Star

Robert G. Couture

Robert Gerard Couture

Priest, Diocese of London, Ontario.  Ordained 1988.  Long-time trustee of the French-Catholic School Board (Conseil Scolaire De District Des Ecoles Catholiques Du Sud Ouest0 and several times elected chairman of that board.  Served as Chaplain for the Fr. Nicholas Point Co. 4375 Knights of Columbus.  Took Leave of Absence in 2010 – pursued his BEd at Ottawa U (French program).  Did his practicum in the area of Essex County and has been doing substitute teaching in French Catholic schools – was teaching a grade 4/5 class at ecole St. Paul in Stony Point, Ontario since November 2012.

April 2013:  charged with theft over $5,000.

TRIAL by jury commenced 23 November 2013 (scheduled to last three weeks)

10 December 2015:  GUILTY verdict

03 October 2016:  Sentenced to 10 months in jail, and must pay back $75,000 to St. Anne’s parish in Tecumseh, Ontario

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BLOGS & Media coverage of trial

(scroll down for other media coverage)

03 October 2016:  “Former Ste. Anne priest sentenced to 10 months in jail” & related article

03 October 2016:  Tecumseh priest sentenced to 10 months for stealing from his own church

28 July 2016:  “Crown requests 15 months jail time for priest guilty of theft” & related articles

28 July 2016:  Defense Seeking Conditional Discharge For Priest

11 December 2015:  Ontario priest guilty of stealing up to $234,000 from his own church

11 December 2015:  “Windsor priest guilty of stealing more than $170,000 from church” & related articles

10 December 2015:  “Former Tecumseh pastor found guilty of stealing from his church” & related articles

04 December 2015:  Jury hears from final witness is theft trial of former St. Anne pastor

03 December 2015:  “Expert testifies former pastor didn’t steal anything because the money belonged to him” & related article

02 December 2015:  Priest tells jury he didn’t steal money from Tecumseh church

02 December 2015:  Priest accused of theft has $350,000 put away for retirement

01 December 2015:  BLOG  Good news!

01 December 2015:   Former Tecumseh pastor takes the stand in his theft trial

30 November 2015:  Priest accused of stealing told bishop he was playing ‘hardball’ with unauthorized fees

27 November 2015:  Forensic auditor testifies former priest stole as much as $234,000 from his own church

25 November 2015:  Witnesses recall pillowcase full of cash in trial of former priest Couture

24 November 2015:  “Trials begins for former Catholic priest accused of stealing $180,000 from his church” & related article

23 November 2015:  Trial begins Tuesday for former priest accused of stealing $180,000 from church

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10 April 2013: Robert Gerard Couture, teacher in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers

_____________________________

Next court appearance:   03 October 2016: sentencing,Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario  ; 28 July 2016:  10 am,  sentencing hearing, Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario; 05 February 2016:  to set date for sentencing, Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario ; 10 December 2015:   GUILT verdict; 09 December 2015:  TRIAL by jury continues; 23 November 201510 am, TRIAL by jury,  set for three weeks, Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario ; 05 December 2014: 10 am, assignment court to set date for trial; 02 December 2014pre-trial hearing – NOT open to the public05 September 2014: 09:30 am, courtroom #3, “to be spoken to,” Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue); 15 August 2014:  Pre-trial hearing (NOT open to the public); 13 June 2014: 09:30 am,  courtroom #3, “to set a date,” Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario; Committed to stand trial – trial date not set;    05 May 2014 – 16 MayPreliminary hearing, 10:00 am, courtroom #1, Ontario court of Justice (200 Chatham St.) ; 26 February 2014: 09:30 am, courtroom #10, “for hearing,”  Windsor, Ontario courthouse ; 29 August 2013:  09:30 am, courtroom #6, “to set a date,”  Windsor, Ontario courthouse27 August 2013:  09:30 am, courtroom #6, “to set a date,”  Windsor, Ontario courthouse 21 August 2013:  09:30 am, courtroom #6, “to be spoken to,”  Windsor, Ontario courthouse; 06 August 2013: 09:30 am, courtroom #10, pre-trial hearing, Windsor, Ontario courthouse; %3 just like any other board,” Serre said.

“The Francophones in this area of the province will be making their own decisions with their own money.

“This is something the French language population of this area has been wanting for many years. Finally this government has recognized French language education and we are very proud of that.”

Serre inherits the position of director after serving in the same role with the Timmins Roman Catholic Separate School Board.

A name has yet to be chosen for the new area French board which will serve 7,000 students in 20 elementary schools and six high schools across the region.

There will be 11 trustees who will sit on the board. Rev. Robert Couture, who represents London-Middlesex, has been named the first chairman of the board. Joseph Bisnarre, who represents Tecumseh and Riverside, will be vice-chairman.

A transition period from January until the end of August has been established for the new board.

Administration will operate out of the Essex Civic Centre until a decision is made on a permanent location for a central office.

It is expected that several satellite offices will also soon be in place to ensure as much local presence as possible across the vast region.

Examining costs

During the transition period, the board will hold one meeting per month in Chatham where all trustees will be expected to attend. But the board is already examining the costs associated with audio and video teleconferencing.

“It will be difficult, but nowadays we don’t always have to meet face-to-face,” Serre said.

“We have to set up the technology and we have to remember these new boards were created to save money. We can’t go around spending money just because we are far apart from one another.”

Trustee Lucie Guillemette resides in Woodstock and represents Oxford, Perth and Grey counties, among the farthest-reaching areas of the new board.

She said travel is a concern for herself and her family, but welcomes the challenge of using technology such as the Internet and other forms to remain in touch.

“I feel very comfortable about it because I believe we will have open and very honest communication,” Guill-emette said.

“We believe in taking care of each other so I feel at home.”

64 Responses to Couture: Father Robert Couture

  1. Sylvia says:

    I received an email telling me that Father Robert Couture was teaching grades 4/5 at ecole St Paul in Stony Point when charged.

    Does anyone know any more about this?

  2. Sylvia says:

    If you ever try to post a comment and there is nowhere to post it, please let me know. Sometimes this finicky program just shuts down threads on its own. I cam to post a comment and discovered that there was nowhere to post 🙁 Lucky for me I am able to fix it and carry 🙂

    So, the word I have now is that Father Couture has been ‘doing’ a maternity leave at St. Paul since November 2012.

    Does he have a B.Ed? Does anyone know? Was he perhaps attaining a B.Ed. when he took that Leave of Absence?

    What’s going on here? Why has he been teaching instead of preaching?

  3. Sylvia says:

    The next courtdate for Father Robert Couture is:

    06 August 2013: 09:30 am, courtroom #10, pre-trial hearing, Windsor, Ontario courthouse

    I have been told that this IS open to the public

  4. Sylvia says:

    The next court date for Father Robert Couture is:

    21 August 2013: 09:30 am, court room #6, “to be spoken to”

  5. Sylvia says:

    The next court date for Father Robert Couture is:

    27 August 2013: 09:30 am, courtroom #6, “to set a date,” Windsor, Ontario courthouse

    What date is to be set at this time I do not know. It could be a date for a preliminary hearing? It could be to set a date for trial? If the latter, the case seems to be moving along faster than the usual plod. Charges were laid in May of this year.

    We shall see…..

  6. Sylvia says:

    Father Robert Couture’s next court date is:

    29 August 2013: 09:30 am, courtroom #6, “to set a date,” Windsor, Ontario courthouse

    Yes, this is again “to set a date.” I have no idea why – for some reason or other things weren’t accomplished on the 27th.

  7. Sylvia says:

    For all those who have emailed asking about Father Couture’s next court date, here is the info:

    26 February 2014: 09:30 am, courtroom #10, “for hearing,” Windsor, Ontario courthouse

  8. Sylvia says:

    A preliminary hearing is booked for 05 May 2014, 10:00 am in courtroom #1 (that’s the Ontario court of Justice building at 200 Chatham street)

  9. m.beale says:

    Thanks for the update. Unreal how this thing just drags out.
    Marny

  10. Sylvia says:

    Please note that the Father Robert Couture preliminary hearing is scheduled to run for 10 days. It is open to the public. There is a publication ban on evidence. IF he is committed to stand trial Couture has opted for trial by judge alone:

    05 May 2014: Preliminary hearing begins for priest charged with stealing church funds

  11. Sylvia says:

    Father Robert Couture is going to trial. Couture’s preliminary hearing wrapped up early, and the judge has ruled that there is sufficient evidence to go to trial. A trial date has not yet been set.

    I will post the article from the Windsor Star this evening.

  12. Rich Lutman says:

    Hi Syliva

    Have you heard anything further regarding Father Robert Couture. He was my families prieat St Patrick’s parish.

    • Sylvia says:

      At this time I know only that he has been committed to stand trial and has requested a trial by jury. I plan to call next week to see if a trial date has been set yet. It usually takes a while for the date to be set so decided I would at least wait until next week before calling. I think even that will be too early, but I will give it a try.

  13. Rich Lutman says:

    Hi Sylvia

    Have you heard anything in regards to when Father Roberts Coutures next court date is, or what’s going on in court re this?

    Best Regards

    Rich

    • Sylvia says:

      Nothing yet Rich. I am awaiting a call back – sometimes it takes more than a day. As soon as I have the dates I will post

    • Sylvia says:

      Father Couture’s next court date is 15 August 2014 for a pre-trial hearing. This is NOT open tot he public. There will be another court date set after that. I will follow up on it mid August.

  14. Rich Lutman says:

    Hi Syliva

    Have you heard how father Robert Coutures court date went yesterday?

    Best Regards
    Rich Lutman

  15. Sylvia says:

    Yesterdays’ court date was not open to the public Rich so we unfortunately can’t find out what happened.

    I should be able to find out on Monday when the next court date is. As soon as I find out I will post the information. He was charged April 2013 so the case been grinding its way toward trial for about 16 months now. One of these days I will be posting a trial date . It seems to take forever, doesn’t it?

  16. Rich Lutman says:

    Thank you Sylvia. I’m interested in attending the trail as he was my families priest for quite sometime and a family friend as well. It seems to take forever for trails now a days.

  17. Sylvia says:

    Father Couture’s next courtdate is:

    05 September 2014: 09:30 am, courtroom #3, “to be spoken to,” Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue)

    So, no trial date as yet.

    I know these “to be spoken to” court dates are frustrating and so often seem like such a waste of time for only a couple of moments in court, but. for those who have the time to go to observe and listen sometimes you can pick up a bit of an idea of what is going on in the background. Not always. But, sometimes it is well worth the trip.

  18. Rich Lutman says:

    Hi Syliva

    I hope all is well. I wanted to inquire if you heard anything regarding Father Robert Couture.
    Kindest Regards Rich

  19. Sylvia says:

    Father Robert Couture has two upcoming court dates:

    02 December 2014: pre-trial hearing – this is NOT open to the public – it will be lawyers sorting out issues regarding evidence and the trial

    05 December 2014: 10 am, assignment court – to set a date for trial

    By the look of things, by the time this goes to trial it will be close to two full years since Father Clouture was charged (May 2013).

  20. Sylvia says:

    The trial date for Father Robert Couture has been set:

    23 November 2015: 10 am, TRIAL by jury, set for three weeks, Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario

    (Father Couture was charged April 2013 with theft over $5,000)

  21. Don Raper says:

    Remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty. Every person is human and subject to faults. I shall be praying for Father Robert and leave the outcome in God’s hands.

    • joe says:

      Writing from Texas. Your comment is right on Don. This is the Year of Mercy in the Church. Maybe here is a good place for the diocese to “walk the talk”.
      I do not condone the actions taken by Robert, but this is no reason to with hold mercy. Joe Kraemer

      • PJ says:

        And what about that “mercy” being extended to all litigation and criminal cases before the courts involving collars? There is absolutely no mercy from that church towards the victims being shown. If there was, all the cases would be settled without dragging the victims through years of re-victimization by defence lawyers. This church does not care period.

      • Sylvia says:

        Would you say the same for convicted clerical molesters joe?

    • Sylvia says:

      Just back from funeral of a very dear friend. A meesage on ans machine and emails with the welcome news on an otherwise sad day.

      Hallelujah! He didn’t get away with it.

      I will post articles shortly.

  22. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Hey Joe;
    How about the church (and the Vatican) extending a little weeeeee bit of mercy towards the victims of their sexually deviant priests? Mike

  23. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    That question also extends to you, Mr. Don Raper. Mike.

  24. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Here I go again! Joe and Don, your heads must be buried in ten feet of sand. The “good Father” screwed his parishioners out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and all you two can think of is to pray for the poor “good Father”.
    Get into the real world you two! The real victims here are the parishioners, not the “good Father! He screwed them, just like Jeffrey Dahmer screwed his victims.
    If you can”t accept reality, the both of you are on the wrong planet. Perhaps a move to Pluto would be in order. Mike.

  25. Rich Lutman says:

    Hi Sylivia

    Have you heard when Father Robert Couture’s sentencing date is?

  26. Lorraine says:

    Hi Sylvia…do you know what happened at yesterday’s court session.

  27. Sylvia says:

    Sorry everyone, I don’t see any media coverage – will have to wait until Monday to contact the courthouse. As soon as I find out I will post the info here.

  28. Sylvia says:

    The next c9ourt date for Father Robert Couture is:

    28 July 2016: Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario

    This seems to be taking a looong long time!

  29. Sylvia says:

    The sentencing hearing for Father Robert Couture is

    28 July 2016: 10 am, sentencing hearing, Windsor Superior Court of Justice (245 Windsor Avenue), Windsor, Ontario

  30. donna says:

    This is so aggravating, will it ever be over?

    • Sylvia says:

      Yes, frustrating indeed. And, yes, eventually it will be over.

      He may or may not be not be sentenced on the same day as the hearing. Sometimes the judge will set another day for sentencing, and sometimes the sentence is pronounced on the same as the hearing. So, at worst there will be one more court date for the actual sentencing, and at best it will all wrap uo on 28 July.

      • JB says:

        I attended the hearing today and as you suggested, Sylvia, there was no sentence.
        The two lawyers could not come to agreement over issues concerning the victim impact statements. The judge will have to make a ruling on that.
        They did go ahead with their statements.
        Sentencing was scheduled for October 3 @ 2:00pm

        • Sylvia says:

          Thank you JB. Do you know who gave Victim Impact Statements? was it former parishioners? and/or teachers and/or parents? Also, were there a lot of people in the courtroom?

          • JB says:

            Sylvia, they didn’t elaborate too much on who gave the impact statements, but they did mention one was given by the diocese and another was offered by an unnamed priest.
            They mostly talked about the defences problems with them. That being, they weren’t submitted on the proper form and they described the impact to someone other than the writer.
            The judge asked them to get together and redact the improper statements. They could not come to an agreement. The defence wanted about 80% redacted, the crown considerably less.
            There were five journalists and about seven other folks, who seemed to be there in support of Couture. Someone I recognized as a retired priest also came in and stayed for a while.

  31. RS says:

    Defense Seeking Conditional Discharge For Priest [that would leave Couture with no criminal record.]
    http://blackburnnews.com/windsor/windsor-news/2016/07/28/defense-seeking-conditional-discharge-priest/
    Superior Court heard sentencing submissions today (28 July).
    Crown is seeking a 15-month custodial sentence, plus two years probation.
    Sentencing on 3 October, 2016: 2pm.

  32. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    JB – Did you see any indication of remorse on the part of this man? The look on his face indicates to me defiance and almost complete disregard for what has happened. It strikes me as odd that the authorities cannot decide on the exact amount!
    I don’t believe the amount should have anything to do with it. It appears to me that he willfully stole money fraudulently from the parish. That in itself is a gross breach of trust. Mike.

    • JB says:

      No Mike, he didn’t appear remorseful. He seemed complacent.
      The crown did bring up his lack of remorse, his failure to take responsibility and his attempt to blame others.

  33. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Thanks JB – not surprised, only saddened. Mike.

  34. JB says:

    I just got back from the Coutoure sentencing. He received 10 months incarceration and $75,000 restitution to St. Anne’s parish.
    There were quite a few in attendance. At least 20 that I could count. Most seemed to be there for his support.

    • Lorraine says:

      Thanks JB. When you say 10 months incarceration – is that jail or house arrest.
      I have known that man from when he was a priest in London and have no respect for him at all. He has a very pompus attitude.

    • Sylvia says:

      Thank you JB. So glad you attended. And so relieved that as paltry as the sentence is at least he will spend a few hours and days behind bars for his crimes. And good news that he will have to pay back $75,000!

      Does anyone know the status of his teaching licence? I trust that it will be revoked? Heaven forbid he is allowed back in classrooms to teach!!!! And Heaven forbid he shows up in a parish where he is able to fleece another group of Catholic faithful.

  35. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Just blows my mind – heads stuck very deep in the sand!!!
    He robbed these people blind, and there they are sticking up for him! Something really wrong in our world………………………………
    Has his proud employer (the bishop) had anything to say……………………. Mike.

  36. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    JB – by the way, thank you for your information. If it wasn’t for you, we may not have heard the outcome, and Couture’s attitude towards these proceedings. Mike.

  37. ray says:

    Crazy he got more time for taking money, then all the others get for taking a child’s innocents.

  38. Sylvia says:

    Thanks JB. I just posted it – along with my comments.

    03 October 2016: Tecumseh priest sentenced to 10 months for stealing from his own church

    Also posted these two articles from CBC and CTV:

    03 October 2016: “Former Ste. Anne priest sentenced to 10 months in jail” & related article

  39. Kristie says:

    The parishioners and residents of the Town of Tecumseh are the ones suffering because of the actions of this non-remorseful man. The steeple from Ste. Anne’s was removed, and has been a permanent fixture on the ground for over nine years, due to lack of funding. No doubt that much of the amount Mr. Couture pilfered ($250k, is it?) could have been used to help fund the restoration.

    The courts were not heavy handed enough in their sentence; this man was in a position of trust, and stole money from his flock, and felt entitled to do it – ENTITLED!!! I have never held a man of the cloth in a position higher than any other man, but what he did is a betrayal that is unforgivable.

    As for the members of his congregation that choose to still believe in his innocence, all I can say is that religion does not make a person a decent human being.

  40. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    You couldn’t be closer to the truth, Kristie! Just because a man wears a collar does not entitle him to pillage at random.
    We are seeing way too much of this attitude from the church. Perhaps it would be wise of the ordained to practise what they preach – or maybe I should say reap what they sow?
    Couture’s attitude says it all – I am WAY above you, the lowly unwashed. Mike.

  41. Anonymous says:

    This man is essentially responsible for me leaving the church and the religion completely. I was an altar server with him. I served at French masses and English masses, and would frequently give up half my Sunday to help serve my church. I don’t know why I did it. Couture was always an arrogant jerk, and barely said hello to the other altar servers.
    The sentencing he received was not heavy enough.

    • JB says:

      Sorry, I don’t think that link will work.
      The article was also in the Windsor Star last week. It basically states that Mr. Couture’s appeal to dismiss the $75,000 in restitution has been dismissed. This has taken over two years.
      I can only assume he’s served his time, but who knows.

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