Kingston Whig Standard
Wednesday, August 3, 2016 8:47:00 EDT PM
The man accusing a retired Roman Catholic priest of sexually molesting him as child wanted Superior Court Justice Wolfram Tausendfreund to know, Wednesday, that he never wanted to be sitting where he was sitting in the courtroom.
Asked by assistant Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis what he was feeling when he bolted from the witness stand a day earlier, the 41-year-old said “frustration, having to be up here talking about my life in front of so many people I don’t know.
“Having them looking at me, smiling at me, winking at me.”
He spent the better part of two days this week testifying at the trial of 68-year-old Robyn Q. Gwyn, who stands accused on two counts of sexually assaulting the complainant when he was an adolescent and young teen from the mid-1980s into the early 1990s; touching him when he was under 14 for a sexual purpose; sexually exploiting a position of trust; and invitation to sexual touching.
Gwyn has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
His accuser, meanwhile, has admitted to having a lengthy criminal record, including robberies and told the judge that he acquired a drug habit after his mother’s suicide in the mid-1990s, favouring cocaine and opioids. He also disclosed, under questioning, that he’s attempted suicide more than once. Until 2014, however, he said he assumed the priest was dead and he tried to put what happened between them in the past.
As a child, he’d tried to tell what was what was happening to him, he said, “not in detail, just the after school special version,” but he wasn’t believed. And a couple of years ago, in answer to a direct question from a female probation officer in Kitchener he said he disclosed the abuse again. But he told the judge he begged her not to report it, “because I didn’t want to be here.”
According to the witness, Kingston Police approached him in the fall of 2014. He couldn’t recall the exact circumstances, but said he went to police headquarters for some other reason, he thinks it might have had something to do with his car, and was told that detectives had been looking for him: It turned out they wanted to talk to him about Gwyn.
“I just wanted to make it clear that I never chose to be here,” he told Justice Tausendfreund.
“I’m not after money or anything. I didn’t put myself in this chair. I didn’t come to police and report him.”
He said, “I even debated whether I should be here today.”
And after hours of answering questions about his past relationship with Gwyn, he said “now is just as bad as when it was happening, it seems.”
Justice Tausendfreund has been told that the complainant was a badly neglected child, who was physically abused by his drug addicted mother and removed from her care at least three times by the Children’s Aid Society before he was finally made a ward.
He can’t recall now the exact circumstances that brought him and Gwyn together, except that it was through school and the church. His sense of time and sequences is fuzzy and he admits that details often escape him. “There’s chunks of my life I can’t remember,” he told the judge.
At one point, under questioning by Gwyn’s lawyer, Clyde Smith, he became frustrated when reminded that he’d initially told police it was his school principal who introduced him to the priest.
“You know what, I made a mistake about how Gwyn came into my life — and he’s still in my life today,” the man complained to the Smith.
The relationship he described having with the priest was complex. He couldn’t explain why it lasted as long as it did or why he kept returning to Gwyn.
On three occasions, he said he even stayed in the rectory with him when Gwyn was pastor of St. Francois D’Assise Catholic Church on Frontenac Street.
“I was very confused. I knew what a homosexual was at this time,” he told the judge, and “because I continued to associate with him I figured I was a homosexual.”
Gwyn also “suggested that his penis was on the same playing ground as the body of Christ — like the host,” he recalled. The witness didn’t know exactly how old he was when the priest told him that, but said it must have been after he’d made his first communion or he wouldn’t have understood what he was talking about.
He recalled Gwyn taking him skating and on two occasions treating him to new clothes: A pair of sweat pants, he thinks were purchased at Sears when it the store anchored the old Kingston Shopping Centre, and shoes and a hat. He also recalled being in his underwear when “he (Gwyn) came in the change room and said he was getting lonely.”
But then there were the shoes: “I just remember the day I was wearing them I felt pretty spiffy” he said, and “it felt pretty good to be asked where I got my shoes.”
Yet, “I couldn’t wait to get out of Kingston.” He quit school at 16, he told the judge; was convinced by a friend to return for one more year, but never really went to classes.
He also can’t remember exactly how or when his involvement with Gwyn ended, and doesn’t recall telling Kingston Police that he simply “grew up,” but he accepted he must have said that, since it was in his statement.
In his testimony Wednesday, he agreed with defence lawyer Smith that the molestation stopped when he was around 16, somewhere around grades 10 or 11, “except for the psychological sh-t.”
In the years since, he said, “it gets pretty dark for me,” and he told the judge he usually goes “to a certain point where I either end up in jail or I try to kill myself.”
Crown prosecutor Laarhuis asked him, toward the end of his testimony, why it is he has trouble recalling particulars.
“Shame,” he answered. “It’s sort of a self-hatred thing. I’ve been able to put it away. For so many years. I haven’t had to think about it. I hadn’t had to think about it until that day I walked into the Kingston Police station.”
Since then, he told the judge “it’s been somewhat life-altering,” and “it makes me feel dirty.”