Ronald Justin Lasik
Christian Brother (Congregation of the Christian Brothers). American – born in Chicago. CONVICTED on 1999 on 19 of 24 charges including those of buggery and gross indecency
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According to court documents at some point served as Principal of Leo High School. The Christian Brothers administered Leo High School in Chicago, Illinois for a number of years
08 April 2016: Man says he told priest in confession of sexual incidents
27 July 1999: R. v. Lasik, 1999 CanLII 19144 (NL CA) sentencing
The following information is drawn from media (M), legal documents (L) and Adelphian Yearbooks (yearbooks form St. Bonaventure College, St. John’s, Newfoundland)
2003: deported to the United States – no requirement to meet with parole officer (M)
Registered as a high risk sex offender in New York. Living at a Christian Brothers residence about 100 miles north of New York City. (M)
18 August 2000: Crown’s application to introduce similar fact evidence at trial denied (L)
21 January 2000: Request to be released from custody and allowed to return to Chicago pending his appeal denied (L)
27 July 1999: Sentenced to 11 years in prison – sentence reduced to 10 years and six months to reflect the time Lasik spent in remand (L)
13 July 1999: application of stay of proceedings based on pre charge delay denied (L)
Living in Chicago, Illinois
June 1999: CONVICTED on six counts of indecent assault; six counts of buggery; two counts of gross indecency; and five counts of common assault. Age 68
Teaching at a shelter for battered women (L)
Cleared of three counts of indecent assault and two of common assault (M)
19 November 1996: charged for sex abuse of boys at Mount Cashel from 1954-1957. Returned to Newfoundland voluntarily. $20,000 bail paid by Christian Brothers – allowed to return to the States pending trial
American citizen. Lived in States from time of his departure from Newfoundland in 1957. Living in Phoenix, Arizona at time charges were laid (M)
September 1954-57: working at Mount Cashel Orphanage, St. John’s,Newfoundland (L) His primary responsibilities were teaching the combined grades 7 and 8 class and the tumbling team
1950-1954: St. Bon’s (St. Bonaventure College, St. John’s Newfoundland) (A)
1954: Faculty 1954-55 “…While we rejoice in the pioneer work of Brs. Brennan and Wakeham in Corner Brook, and the self-sacrificing labours of Br. Lasik in Mont Cashel, yet it is with heavy hearts we bid adieu to their sojourn at the College…” (A)
in charge of Army Cadets in the College in 1953 (A)
started the “Roltums” in 1952 (A) (I believe this is the name of the tumbling group?) Lasik built the spring board, horse and other gymnastic equipment (A)
1953: St. Bon’s, St. John’s Newfoundland (A) Also on staff Brother French, who, like Laisk, was later convicted of sex abuse of boys at Mount Cashel Orphanage. (French was in fact molesting at St. Bon’s, was reported and relocated out of the province- eventually French was assigned to Mount Cashel where he continued to molest)
Sports Day: “…One of the highlights of the day was the tumbling display which came in for prolonged applause from the spectators. The tumbling call is under the direction of Br. B. J. Lasik.” (A)
1951: St. Bon’s, St. John’s Newfoundland. (A) Also on staff Brothers Barry and J.E. Murphy (A) – both Brother Barry and Murphy were, like Lasik, later convicted of sex abuse of boys at Mount Cashel Orphanage
1950: St. Bon’s, St. John’s Newfoundland (A) Also on staff Brother Barry who was later convicted of sex abuse of boys at Mount Cashel Orphanage (A)
football league under the supervision of Brother Lasik (A)
Junior Division Intra-Mural Basketball: Brothers O’Quinn, Rohan and Lasik “are to be thanked for supervising the games and conducting the league.” (A)
“We extend a hearty welcome to the following Brothers who have come to take the places of those who have left: Rev. Br. J. G. Nolan from Mount St. Francis; Rev. Br. E.B. Wakeham from St. Louis College, Victoria; and Rev. Brs. P.J. Brennan and R. J. Lasik from St. Gabriel’s, New York” (A)
Pre Newfoundland : St. Gabriel’s, New York (A 1950)
Born in Chicago, Illinois (M)
Taking Cover under the Red, White and Blue Canada Lets 4 Accused of Child Molestation Call U.S. Home
Dallas Morning News
07 December 2002
By Brooks Egerton and Reese Dunklin
Catholic workers accused of sexual abuse sometimes start over in the United States after getting special treatment from justice officials abroad.
Four religious brothers from one rural Canadian province, for instance, are living free in this country.
Two of the men are fugitives whom Canadian prosecutors have never tried to bring back for trial. A prosecutor who opposed one man’s extradition became his attorney in a lawsuit over the alleged abuse.
The other two are convicts. One was let out of prison unusually early. The other was sentenced to house arrest but allowed to move to New York – where no one has the authority to supervise him – and is working in lay ministry.
U.S. authorities are investigating, based on The Dallas Morning News’ findings.
“We’re concerned about these matters,” said Jamie Zuieback, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman in Washington, D.C. “We’re looking into what avenues can be pursued.”
Some officials in Canada are upset, too. Vic Toews, a Parliament member who speaks for the Conservative Party on crime issues, is seeking a federal inquiry on his side of the border. He said the cases undermine his country’s policy of aggressively combating child molestation.
Mr. Toews, a former prosecutor, said leaving the men free in the United States “gives them another opportunity to abuse.”
The News’ findings are part of a yearlong investigation into how Catholic priests and other church workers accused of sexual abuse move from country to country. Religious leaders aren’t the only ones helping them – justice officials, through direct involvement or inaction, sometimes do, too.
The four Canadian cases began in Newfoundland and Labrador, a sprawling province of about a half-million people in the easternmost part of the nation.
An orphanage in the province was the scene of one of the country’s worst clergy abuse scandals, which authorities and church leaders covered up when allegations first surfaced in the 1970s. Two top justice officials, for example, cut a deal with the Catholic order that ran the Mount Cashel orphanage. Two accused workers left Newfoundland and faced no charges, despite statements that police had taken from several victims.
The complaints resurfaced in the late 1980s, causing public outrage and leading to a government inquiry that documented the church-state collusion. Newfoundland’s justice system later admitted it “failed in its responsibilities to these children” and convicted about a dozen members of the order, the Christian Brothers of Ireland in Canada.
Past still swirls
Controversy over the now-demolished Mount Cashel orphanage continues to this day. More than 80 victims recently won payments from the Christian Brothers’ assets, but they had to surrender their right to sue Newfoundland’s government.
And the final Mount Cashel prosecution ended a few months ago with special consideration for the guilty party.
Justice Seamus O’Regan rejected prosecutors’ recommendation of prison time and gave John Evangelist Murphy 20 months of house arrest for fondling four boys in the 1950s. Then the judge took the extraordinary step of letting him return to upstate New York, where he had lived for years before he was extradited for trial.
Had Mr. Murphy served his sentence in Newfoundland, he would have been required to wear an electronic monitor and been subject to random visits by authorities and drug testing.
New York authorities said they had no standing to supervise him, and a top Newfoundland corrections official conceded that little could be done to enforce the sentence.
“Quite frankly, we believe the court may have exceeded its jurisdiction,” said Marvin McNutt, head of the Division of Corrections and Community Services in Newfoundland.
Justice O’Regan said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the sentence. In court, he cited Mr. Murphy’s age and “exemplary lifestyle” since leaving Mount Cashel as reasons for his decision.
Mr. Murphy, 75, was a teacher at the orphanage but left the Christian Brothers decades ago. He moved to the United States, married, raised a family and taught school.
On a recent Sunday, he read from the Bible during Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Dolgeville, N.Y. He later said he’s simply following his sentence, which permits a range of activities outside his home.
“I can go visit people in the hospital and cheer them up,” he said, “and I can drive people to and from their errands.”
Mr. Murphy’s pastor, the Rev. Leo Potvin, declined to comment on his lay ministry. Albany Diocese officials said they were unaware of the situation and would investigate.
Lack of remorse
Mr. Murphy’s former colleague and fellow convict Ronald Justin Lasik, 73, is also free in New York now because of an unusual decision in Canada.
Police and prosecutors had called him the worst of Mount Cashel’s abusers. A judge noted his lack of remorse for sexually assaulting and beating seven boys in the 1950s, incidents she said were on “the higher end of seriousness.” She rejected a bid for leniency because of his age and sentenced him to 101/2 years in prison – more than any of the orphanage’s other workers.
“I recognized that the offender has had the benefit in his more youthful years of a free lifestyle without having been called upon to account for his criminal activities,” Justice Maureen Dunn said during the 1999 court hearing.
But a third of the way through his term, federal parole officials released him after determining he was a low risk, citing his completion of a treatment program and good behavior. It was the minimum he was required to serve, and far less than most sex offenders do in Canada.
Early release is especially rare when abusers remain unapologetic, Canadian experts say. The national parole board’s written rationale for releasing Brother Lasik included this statement: “You continue to deny your guilt and have failed to display victim empathy or remorse.”
Brother Lasik was deported in 2003 to the United States, where he, too, had lived before Canada forced him to trial. He faces no standard post-prison requirements, such as living in a halfway house or meeting with a parole officer.
“Of course, our laws don’t follow him to the United States, but we do everything we can to notify the state where he’s going,” said parole board official Brian Chase. “Canada’s not looking to dump its problems on the U.S. or any other country.”
Brother Lasik is registered as a sex offender in New York, where he lives at a Christian Brothers residence about 100 miles north of New York City. The state, unlike Canada, classified him as a high risk. He refused to answer questions by phone and hung up on a reporter. Christian Brothers officials in New York did not respond to messages.
Former Mount Cashel resident Patrick Williams said several of Brother Lasik’s victims were stunned by the early release.
“All of them said the same thing,” he said. “What was it all for?”
Even as they were bringing some of Mount Cashel’s alleged abusers to trial, Newfoundland prosecutors opposed extradition of two fugitives from other religious orders who had gone to the United States.
One was Paul Baynham, whom police charged in 1990 with abusing two adolescent boys a few years earlier in a remote tribal village. One accuser, Simeon Tshakapesh, said Mr. Baynham “grabbed me from behind and threw me on the ground and molested and choked me.”
Initially, prosecutor Bernard Coffey opposed extradition on the theory that Mr. Baynham would be released on probation if convicted, as an abusive priest recently had been. But that priest might have been sentenced to prison if not for Mr. Coffey’s delays in the case, a court said.
Years later, another prosecutor gave a different reason for not extraditing: The previous decision to leave Mr. Baynham free had violated his right to a speedy trial. Today, assistant director of prosecutions Kathleen Healey says her office still opposes extradition because of speedy-trial and other concerns that she would not divulge.
Ms. Healey said the charges against Mr. Baynham remain alive and that he could be arrested if he returned to Canada. But the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which brought the charges, said the arrest warrant was removed from their database about three years ago for unknown reasons.
Meanwhile, Mr. Baynham’s two accusers are suing him and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the order for which he worked in Newfoundland. His attorney in that lawsuit is Mr. Coffey, the former prosecutor who first opposed extradition.
The accusers asked Mr. Coffey to withdraw, contending he had a conflict of interest, but he refused. Mr. Coffey, who also represents the Oblates, declined to comment.
Mr. Baynham, 52, declined to be interviewed. In an e-mail to The News, he denied wrongdoing.
“I do intend to return and deal with all charges,” he wrote, “and certainly I am not guilty of any of this.”
He added that he “took bad advice years ago in not immediately responding to this, and it has caused pain to far too many people.”
Mr. Baynham also stressed that he was not a fugitive when he left Canada in the mid-1980s.
From that point until 1993, he worked for another order, the Trappists, at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. He now works in the Washington, D.C., area for an information-technology firm that is a government contractor.
The Trappists said Canadian police came to the abbey in 1989 to interrogate Mr. Baynham but never told the order about the charges that were filed the next year. Police say the suspect wouldn’t answer substantive questions.
Newfoundland prosecutors recently changed their explanation for not extraditing another religious brother, Franciscan friar Gerald Chumik. But they won’t discuss the new rationale. Police say they disagree with it but won’t elaborate.
The News reported in July that when Brother Chumik was charged in 1990, prosecutors said the U.S.-Canada extradition treaty didn’t specifically cover the alleged crime, gross indecency. But it broadly applied to sexual abuse of children, U.S. officials have noted, and now specifically covers indecency charges.
Meanwhile, Brother Chumik has been moved from a California parish to a home for abusive clergy near St. Louis. His order previously said the 69-year-old friar would stay in California in part because he was too sick to travel.
Ms. Healey, the assistant director of prosecutions, said her office is not going easy on church workers accused of abuse who were unconnected to the high-profile Christian Brothers scandal.
“We certainly try to prosecute vigorously whenever it’s feasible,” she said.
Mr. Toews, the Parliament member and former prosecutor, questioned that.
“They let sleeping dogs lie,” he said.
Christian Brother convicted inMountCashelsex scandal
Toronto Globe and Mail
07 June 1999
St. John’s– A Christian Brother who taught at the Mount Cashel Orphanage for three years has been convicted of 19 counts of sexual and physical abuse.
Ronald Justin Lasik had been charged with 24 counts of abuse, more than any other religious brother implicated in the Mount Cashel scandal.
A Newfoundland Supreme Court jury found him guilty Saturday of six counts of buggery, two of indecent assault, five of common assault, and six other counts of assault for offences that occurred more than 40 years ago.
But the eight-man, three-woman jury cleared him of three indecent-assault charges, in which he was accused of fondling the genitals of two boys, and two common-assault charges, in which he was accused of kicking a boy in the ribs and hitting another in the legs with a stick.
Mr. Lasik was remanded in custody until sentencing. A date for the hearing was not set.
When he testified in his defence last week, Mr. Lasik denied sexually or physically abusing any of the eight former residents who complained to police, but did admit to strapping some of them.
Mr. Lasik, a tall and muscular man, worked at the institution run by the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic lay order, between 1954 and 1957.
He is one of seven men charged in 1996 with 59 counts of assault over incidents involving 17 former residents.
In recent years, 10 Christian Brothers from Mount Cashel have been convicted of abusing boys in their care. The building has since been demolished.
Christian Brother denies abuse allegations
Saskatoon Star Phoenix
20 May 1999
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) — A Christian Brother who taught at the Mount Cashel orphanage for three years has denied sexually abusing any of the residents, but has admitted to strapping some of them.
Ronald Justin Lasik has been on trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court for five weeks. He finally took the stand Monday to defend allegations that he sexually and physically assaulted eight former residents.
On Tuesday, he told the jury he never participated in any acts of a sexual nature against them.
Lasik, 67, of Phoenix, Ariz., is charged with 24 assault-related offences. He worked at the orphanage run by the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic lay order, between 1954 and 1957.
Nine of the charges against Lasik allege indecent assaults and common assaults. Other charges include six counts of buggery and two of gross indecency.
In recent years, a number of Christian Brothers from the St. John’s orphanage have been convicted of abusing boys in their care. The building has since been demolished.
Under questioning Tuesday by defence lawyer David Eaton, Lasik admitted he strapped some of the boys on occasion but he never beat them repeatedly as they have alleged.
“More than likely I strapped them on the hands,” he testified. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I strapped them on the buttocks, but mostly on the hands.”
One by one, Eaton asked Lasik about each charge. Lasik replied “No” or “I have no recollection of any incident like that ever happening.”
Brother admits to strappings
The National Post
20 May 1999
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – A Christian Brother, who taught at theMountCashelorphanage, has denied sexually abusing any of the residents, but has admitted to strapping some of them. Ronald Justin Lasik has been on trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court for five weeks. He took the stand this week to defend against allegations that he sexually and physically assaulted eight former residents. Brother Lasik, 67, ofPhoenix,Ariz., is charged with 24 assault-related offences. He worked at the orphanage from 1954 to 1957.
Are Mount Cashel charges enough to warrant extradition back to Canada?:
Brother Ford continued to teach in New Jersey while he was under investigation in Newfoundland. Then, one day, he abruptly resigned
05 April 1999
A Christian Brother who is facing charges that he physically assaulted students at Newfoundland’s Mount Cashel orphanage, continued to work as Dean of Discipline at aNew JerseyHigh Schoolfor more than four years after the religious order became aware he was under police investigation.
Thomas Cuthbert Ford has been fighting extradition from the United States to Canada since November, 1996, when he was charged with one count of assault causing bodily harm and eight counts of common assault, stemming from complaints by four former students at the residential school where he taught between 1956 and 1959.
The 64-year-old, who is still an active member of the Catholic religious order, abruptly retired from his job as a math instructor and head of discipline at Bergen Catholic High School in Paramus, N. J., shortly after the charges were laid.
But this week, the lead investigator in the case said the Christian Brothers knew as early as 1990, that police were looking into allegations Mr. Ford routinely and savagely beat boys at the orphanage.
“They knew,” said Sergeant Mark Wall of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. “We sent a letter up to the Brothers’ [Canadian] headquarters seeking information on these people and the names were provided at this time.”
Mr. Ford was one of seven former Mount Cashel staffers charged with physical and sexual assaults dating back to the early 1950s in the final phase of the RNC’s investigation into abuses at the residential school. The sprawling investigation, which also spawned a pubic inquiry, has led to the conviction of nine current and former members of the order for offences that stretch over five decades. Four cases, including Mr. Ford’s, have yet to go to trial. The next before the courts is Ronald Justin Lasik, who is scheduled to appear inSt. John’s next week to face accusations of physical and sexual assault.
Although Mr. Ford is not under investigation for any wrongdoings at theNew JerseyHigh School, where he taught for 13-years, parents and students say they are concerned that they were never informed of the allegations made against him. The brother disappeared from public view in November, 1996, after the charges were laid. Staff and students were never provided with an explanation for his overnight departure in the middle of the semester, though rumours circulated that he had left to take care of an ill sister.
Mary Kasak, head of the school’s parents’ club, said no one from the order, which operates 500 schools and educational institutions around the world, has ever informed parents or students about the Canadian charges against the longtime Dean of Discipline.
“Nobody has ever mentioned that,” she said. “I’d have liked to have known about that.
“He just disappeared . . . We really had no idea why he’d gone or where he went.”
Mrs. Kasak recalled that Mr. Ford had a reputation at the school as someone to be feared and respected.
“He’s a big guy, very tall, very strict, very tough,” she said. “The buzz around school was that you don’t mess with Brother Ford.”
While Mrs. Kasak said she has no proof that the brother ever assaulted his students, she admitted that such attacks were the stuff of legend at the school.
One former staff member at the high school told the Newark Star- Ledger that Mr. Ford once mistook him for a student and threw him into a bank of lockers when he made the mistake of walking between the brother and a freshman he was dressing down.
“He was a trigger,” said the teacher, requesting anonymity. “Everyone knew he had a temper.”
American representatives of the Christian Brothers would not answer questions about the order’s policies in regards to members who are under investigation for child abuse, or comment on police reports that they knew about the allegations long before Mr. Ford was removed from his teaching position.
But Brother Barry Lynch, superior of the Canadian branch of the order, said the Christian Brothers take no position in the matter. He said Mr. Ford’s decision to contest the extradition order is a personal choice and has nothing to do with his church duties.
David Eaton, theSt. John’sattorney defending Mr. Ford and the six other formerMountCashelstaff charged at the same time, said recent media reports that his client is a fugitive from justice are simply not true.
“He’s not in hiding,” said Mr. Eaton. “There has never been an issue of his whereabouts . . . If they wanted him today, they could have him today.”
He said his client, aU.S.citizen, has remained in regular contact with authorities while his American attorneys fight the extradition attempt. There are a number of legal issues that must be settled before any of the Canadian charges could proceed, he added.
“For events that happened over 40 years ago, the passage of time has an effect on the quality of the evidence that goes before the court,” said Mr. Eaton. “Why proceed with these charges after so long a time?”
There is also a question of whether the assault allegations are serious enough to warrant extradition. UnderNew Jerseylaw, the statute of limitations of such charges has long since expired.
Mr. Eaton is also concerned about his client’s chances for a fair trial given the amount of attention — including a highly- publicized CBC movie — that the Mount Cashel abuses have generated.
James Byrne, spokesman for the Mount Cashel victims, said the drawn out legal battle against the extradition warrant is “typical” of the type of tactics the religious order and its lawyers have used in its defense. He said the delay causes further pain for those who suffered abuses at the school because it denies them the chance to close the books on the episode and start rebuilding their lives.
Mr. Byrne said he remembers Brother Ford from his time at the orphanage, describing him as a physically imposing man with a fiery temper and a penchant for corporal punishment.
“Basically he was a physical brute,” said Mr. Byrne, himself a former teacher and member of the order. “If something wasn’t done the way he wanted it, he didn’t hesitate in any way. He would strap, punch, kick you –you name it.
“He was highly volatile . . . To say we feared him would be putting it mildly.”
Mr. Byrne recalled one of his own run-ins with Mr. Ford in the school cafeteria.
“I asked for extra food . . . I was new in the orphanage. Next thing I knew I was bouncing off the walls and he was shouting at me that you didn’t get up from your seat unless he told you to,” said theSt. John’sresident.
“He just didn’t know the bounds of discipline when it came to children.”
Seven more men charged with abusing orphans
The Kingston Whig-Standard
20 November 1996
What many hope will be the final chapter in the history of the Mount Cashel orphanage began yesterday when another seven people were charged with abusing boys in their care.
The seven men face a total of 59 charges of physical and sexual assault for incidents that allegedly occurred between 1950 and 1964, said Insp. Des Peddle of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.
The charges involve 17 former residents, but Peddle said more than 100 people came forward during the seven-year investigation.
Nine members of the Christian Brothers have been convicted of physically and sexually abusing boys in their care during the 1970s.
Peddle said he believes this is the end of the police department’s role in what has been an exhaustive and often heart- wrenching process.
The case has now been turned over to the provincial and federal justice departments. The investigation has been complicated because four of the accused now live in theUnited Statesand must be extradited. The three Canadian residents are scheduled to appear in court Dec. 10.
Gerard Kevin Barry, 69, of Ontario; Joseph Christopher (Anthony) Kernan, 66, of New York State; Thomas Cuthbert Ford, 62, of New Jersey; John Evangelist (Thomas) Murphy, 62, of New York State; Ronald Justin Lasik, 65, of Arizona; John Lawlor, 59, of Quebec; and Francis Clancy, 70, of St. John’s, face charges ranging from indecent assault to buggery.
All of the men, with the exception of Clancy, were Christian Brothers. Peddle would not reveal Clancy’s relationship with the alleged victims.