Monsignor Benoit M. Fortier
Priest Diocese of Sualt St. Marie. Ordained 07 June 1941. 2003 GUILTY plea to charges of 1987 sex abuse of boy – 12 months house arrest. 2006: found unfit to stand trial – charges related to 1963 sex abuse of young boy stayed.
Bishops of Sault Ste. Marie Diocese from time of Father Benoit Fortier’s ordination: Ralph Hubert Dignan (22 December 1934 – 22 November 1958); Alexander Carter (Coadjutor Bishop: 10 Dec 1956 – Bishop 22 November 1958 – 03 May 1985); Marcel André J. Gervais (03 May 1985 – 13 May 1989 when appointed, Coadjutor Archbishop of Ottawa, Ontario) ; Jean-Louis Plouffe (02 December 1989 – )
Auxiliary bishops: Adolphe E. Proulx (2 Jan 1965 – 28 April 1967 [ also served as Chancellor from 1960 – 1965] ); Roger-Alfred Despatie (20 May 1968 – 8 February 1973); Gérard Dionne ( 29 January 1975 – 23 November 1983); Bernard Francis Pappin (29 January 1975 – 27 Aug 1998); Jean-Louis Plouffe (12 Dec 1986 – Bishop 02 Dec 1989); Paul-André Durocher ( 20 January 1997 – 27 April 2002); Robert Harris 26 October 2002 – 8 May 2007); Brian Joseph Dunn (16 July 2008 – 21 Nov 2009).
The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, the 1980 Ontario Catholic directory (OCD) and media (M)
2012: not listed in index (CCCD)
2006: found unfit to stand trial. Sex abuse charges stayed (M)
2003: GUILTY plea to one count sexual assault (additional charges dropped in plea bargain). (M)
2002, 1999: address for Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, Sturgeon Falls, Ontario (Pastor Father Denis Savignac) (CCCD)
1995, 1991: 514-1525 rue Paris, Sudbury, Ontario 705-523-4425
1987: sex abuse of boy during skiing and camping vacation in River Vally, northwest of Sturgeon Falls (M) – 12 months house arrest (M)
1985-1986: Pastor, Notre-Dame de la Merci Roman Catholic Church, Coniston, Ontario(M)
1980: Pastor, St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic church, Verner, Nippising District (OCD)
-Diocesan consultor (OCD) and several other years
1973-74, 1971-72, 1968-69: Pastor, St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic church, Verner, Nippising District (M)
1967, 1959: Pastor, St. Eugene, Sudbury, Ontario (M)
Elderly priest found not fit to stand trial on abuse charge
Apr 18, 2006
A Catholic priest charged with molesting a Sudbury altar boy more than 30 years ago was found unfit to stand trial following a brief hearing late last week at the Sudbury Courthouse.
Outside the courthouse, Richard Brazeau, 52, a man who says he was sexually molested during a single incident by Father Benoit Fortier, also known as Bernard Fortier, who is now in his 90s, asked other victims of sexual abuse by priests to come forward.
Brazeau said he suffered emotional scars for many years until he finally got counselling three years ago.
Benoit’s lawyer Denis Michel presented a doctor’s letter to the court, and assistant Crown attorney Julie Lefebvre didn’t oppose Michel’s request Fortier be deemed unfit to stand trial.
Justice William Fitzgerald agreed to Lefebvre’s request to stay the charges filed against Benoit in relation to one count of sexually assaulting Brazeau while parish priest at a Sudbury church in 1963.
Fortier has late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and couldn’t understand the charges against him or properly advise counsel, Michel told the court.
Fortier was convicted in 2003 of sexually assaulting a young boy back in 1987 near Sturgeon Falls. At a court hearing in North Bay in June 2003, Fortier pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of gross indecency.
Michel submitted a doctor’s report at that hearing explaining Fortier was suffering from the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
The presiding judge sentenced Fortier to a daily curfew and ordered him to not have any contact with his victim and not be alone with anyone under the age of 16.
Brazeau has been married three times, abused drugs and alcohol and has has a poor relationship with his children.
“It’s only after three years of therapy that I’m starting to have any kind of relationship with my kids again,” said Brazeau. “I know there are others out there who are hurting…I’m hoping they might come forward and seek help.”
Brazeau said he fully expected the court to rule Fortier not competent to stand trial and that doesn’t bother him because he knows Fortier is a very feeble and elderly man, but he wanted to tell his story to try and help other victims.
“I’m trying to help others who were victims…that’s my greatest hope,” he said.
Priest too sick to stand trial
The Sudbury Star
22 April 2006
Retired Catholic priest Bernoit Fortier will not stand trial on charges he sexually interfered with a young boy almost four decades ago.
The charge against Fortier, who is now 90, was to have been heard in Sudbury.
But when Fortier’s lawyer produced a doctor’s letter saying the priest’s health was so fragile that he could not withstand the rigours of a trial, the Sudbury Crown’s office agreed to stay the charge.
The lawyer explained that Fortier is weak and suffering from either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Three years ago, Fortier pleaded guilty in North Bay court to one count of sexual assault in connection with an incident involving a 14-year-old boy.
Additional charges of gross indecency and sexual assault were dropped.
He was given house arrest and put under strict conditions that included a curfew.
Priest charged in 40-year-old case: Offence alleged to have occurred in the 1960s
The Sudbury Star
14 April 2005
Greater Sudbury Police have charged a high-level Sudbury priest with indecent assault in an alleged incident which occurred during the 1960s.
Msgr. Benoit Menard Joseph Fortier was stationed at St. Eugene, a French Catholic Church on Eyre Street, when the alleged incident involving a male occurred.
The 89-year-old priest will appear in court May 11.
The male victim came forward earlier this year, and as a result a two-month investigation ensued, said Insp. Dan Markiewich.
Officials from the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie were not available for comment.
Markiewich urged anyone with information to this alleged incident — or any other incident — to contact police. In some cases when such a charge is publicized, more victims come forward, the inspector said.
When Donald Holmes, a former priest at St. Jean de Brebeuf, was charged with indecent assault in Jan. 2000, the media widely publicized the incident.
A month later, police laid more charges and when Holmes went to trial two years later, a total of 13 women said they were victimized by the priest.
Holmes was convicted of two counts of sexual assault and 14 counts of indecent assault and sentenced May 2002 to two years less a day in prison.
Police issued a public warning when Holmes was released from jail in Dec. 2003, saying he was at high risk to re-offend.
Sexual abuse of boy lands retired priest house arrest
The Sudbury Star
06 June 2003
NORTH BAY — Before turning the gun on himself, a 14-year-old boy planned to shoot the retired Catholic priest, a close family friend, who sexually abused him at a remote cottage near Sturgeon Falls 15 years ago, a court here was told this week.
What the court did not hear was any remorse from Benoit Fortier, 87, who told court he’s more troubled that his 12 months under house arrest will keep him from enjoying a yearly holiday.
Fortier pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of sexual assault, a plea bargain that resulted in additional charges of gross indecency and sexual assault being dropped.
“He tells me if he would meet this man — yell and scream at him, to tell him how he has ruined his life — the hurt might go away and he could start living again,” the victim’s mother writes in a statement submitted to the court.
“I can only hope one day he can find closure and start a new and happy life. God knows this boy deserves it.”
Sudbury lawyer Denis Michel submitted a doctor’s report, explaining Fortier is suffering from the early stages of either dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande ordered Fortier to follow a curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., with exceptions, have no contact with the victim or family and not be alone with anyone under the age of 16.
The family cannot be identified because of a publication ban protecting the victim’s identity.
“His schooling suffered and he had to see various counsellors and psychologists,” his father writes.
Now an adult, “a feeling of poor self-worth” keeps his son from holding down jobs. He goes missing for months, with his parents in pursuit to reclaim him.
His father previously said their guilt still consumes them, having entrusted their son to Fortier during a skiing and camping vacation in 1987 at an isolated cottage in River Valley, northwest of Sturgeon Falls.
After the assault, the boy picked up a gun Fortier used for hunting, feeling that he wanted to kill the priest for what he had done, and then kill himself, said Crown attorney John Benson.
DISCLOSED THE ABUSE
The boy gradually disclosed the abuse to family members, and eventually confided in the West Nipissing Police Service last June.
Although uninvited, Fortier attended a family event in West Nipissing where his victim ran out of the room upon his arrival, court was told.
“I held him in my arms as he shook and cried uncontrollably,” the father writes. “And through his tears, he kept saying, ‘It’s him. It’s him.’
“At that time, I knew without a doubt this man would have to answer for his actions, not only to God, but in a court of law.”