Philip Jacobs has been given a five-month conditional sentence, followed by two years probation, for sexual touching of a teenage boy while serving as a Catholic priest at St. Joseph the Worker Church in Saanich.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper chose today to impose the condtional term rather than up to six months in jail as requested by the Crown prosecutor.
Gropper found the 63-year-old Jacobs guilty in March while acquitting him on three other charges, including two counts of sexual touching and a count of sexual assault. She said it was clear to her that Jacobs acted deliberately when rubbing a youth’s leg up to the groin and that it was not something accidental or absent-minded as Jacobs maintained.
Gropper said the situation that led to the offence, which had Jacobs and the youth (who cannot be named) alone for a study session, was “an aspect of grooming” by Jacobs for touching in a sexual way.
Jacobs had become involved with the youth and his entire family before the offence, Gropper said. Jacobs was parish priest at St. Jospeh’s from 1997 to 2002 and the court heard that the offences took place between Jan. 1, 2000, and June 30, 2001.
“At some time, [the victim’s] relationship with Phil Jacobs progressed to a friendship and a father figure of sorts.”
Gropper said the victim tried to tell himself that what Jacobs was doing to him was unintended, but couldn’t get away from the fact he felt “uncomfortable, embarrassed and awkward.”
A victim-impact statement from the youth’s mother expresses her sense of betrayal at what Jacobs did. She said his actions had a negative effect on her faith, which had been a very important part of her life.