The Vanguard (Yarmouth, NS)
Published on May 14, 2012
A Yarmouth County man who never got the chance to be face-to-face in a courtroom with the priest who he says sexually abused him when he was just a young boy, says he is happy that by sharing his story it has given others the courage the come forward with their stories.
Six Yarmouth County men were in a Yarmouth courtroom on Monday, May 14, as 83-year-old Albert LeBlanc, a former Yarmouth priest (who also worked as a caseworker and a probation officer after he left the priesthood in 1973) pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault – one guilty plea for each complainant. The offences date as far back as 1964. The most recent offence occurred in the early 1980s when LeBlanc was no longer a priest.
The men were just young boys when they were assaulted, ranging in age from seven to 11 years old. Their identities are protected by a court-imposed publication ban.
May 14 was to have been the first day of a week-long trial on 50 indecent assault and gross indencency charges. After the guilty pleas the other charges were adjourned until LeBlanc’s sentencing on Aug. 17.
One of the many people who were in court on May 14 to show their support for these men and their families was Del Boudreau. In January 2009 Boudreau and two other men – his brother Kenneth and Yarmouth County resident Raymond Boudreau – came out publically to say another priest, Father Adolphe LeBlanc, a former parish priest in Wedgeport and other parts of Yarmouth County, had sexually abused them when they were young boys.
When Del Boudreau spoke with the Yarmouth Vanguard in 2009 he told this newspaper, “I’m going public to help other people who I know are going through this. I don’t care if it was 50 years ago, they’re still hurting.”
And to the question that people often ask in these cases, why come forward decades later? Why not come forward back then? Boudreau said that unless you’ve walked in the shoes of a scared, young, confused child to whom this was happening – and who was being pressured to keep quiet about what was happening – it is hard for others to presume what you would have done in a similar situation. And then how you would have dealt with the anger, the shame and the hurt.
In Boudreau’s case he did tell someone when he was 17 or 18. He told another priest. He was told God would deal with his abuser. And he was told to find forgiveness in his heart. But Boudreau says his heart had no room for that type of forgiveness. And so it was a secret he carried throughout his life, even though it wasn’t an easy secret to live with.
And so years ago on the verge of turning 65 years old, he decided it was time to stop keeping this secret.
Boudreau didn’t have the option of having charges brought against the priest. Father Adolphe LeBlanc died in 1971. But he did become part of a civil lawsuit launched, in part, to hold the Yarmouth and Halifax Catholic dioceses accountable for not stepping in to prevent the abuse.
And also, in large part, to encourage others to speak out.
In 2010 other men who, as boys, had experienced what Boudreau had, turned to him to discuss Albert LeBlanc. Boudreau said because he had come forward with his story, others approached him to share their story. And then to turn to the RCMP.
On May 14 those men and the person they said abused them all gathered in the same courtroom.
“He had never done anything to me, but I could feel the rage in there, it’s just uncanny,” said Boudreau, who wanted to be present to show his support.
Asked whether he wishes he had had the chance in court to face the man he accused of abusing him, Boudreau says probably not.
“Knowing what I know now, no,” he said. “I hated that man so much all my life I don’t think it would have made any difference. I would have been dangerous on my part.”