Former priest pleads guilty to indecent assault

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The Vanguard News

14 May 2012

By Tina Comeau

THE VANGUARD

NovaNewsNow.com

UPDATED: In court on Monday afternoon, May 14, the lawyer for Albert LeBlanc entered six guilty pleas on behalf of his client to charges of indecent assault. There was one guilty plea for each of the six complainants before the court.

The dates of the offences LeBlanc pleaded guilty to including the late 1960s and early 1070s, and also the early 1980s. LeBlanc, a former Yarmouth priest, resigned from the priesthood in 1973. After that he worked as a caseworker and a probation officer.
A story about the entering of the guilty pleas will be filed shortly.

Albert LeBlanc reacts to the media when leaving the courthouse Monday morning. VANGUARD PHOTO

POSTED 12 noon May 14: A former Yarmouth priest, caseworker and probation officer is before the court in Yarmouth this week, scheduled to stand trial on dozens of indecent assault and gross indecency charges that date as far back as the mid-1960s.

The RCMP charged Albert LeBlanc in January 2011. LeBlanc, who was 82 years old when the charges were laid, was arrested at his home in Bouctouche, New Brunswick. At the time of his arrest he was charged with 40 offences alleging sexual abuse. The number of charges later grew to around 50.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1964 and 1985. LeBlanc resigned from the priesthood in 1973.

The complainants, who are grown men now, would have been young boys at the time of the alleged offences, most between the ages of seven and 11. A publication ban protects their identities.

A week has been scheduled for the trial, which was to have begun Monday morning, May 14. The morning, however, consisted mainly of discussions between the defence and the Crown attorneys, who have been talking about areas of testimony that can be agreed upon to present to the court so as to possibly cut down on the length of the trial.

LeBlanc stayed out of sight for the majority of the morning, staying inside a small interview room with his lawyer and/or other supporters.

Family members and supporters of the alleged victims in this matter have been at the courtroom, many anxious to get a glimpse of LeBlanc.

There is heavy security at the courthouse, which is not traditionally the norm on most days at the courthouse. People must pass through a metal detector and empty their pockets and have their purses or other bags searched.

The case was recessed mid-Monday morning and was scheduled to resume at 2 p.m.

When LeBlanc resigned from the priesthood in 1973, the Archdiocese of Halifax has said it was his choice to leave. In a letter of resignation he wrote at the time he said he was finding a good life as a layperson and he hoped to continue to live that way.

After leaving the priesthood LeBlanc worked as a caseworker for Family and Children’s Services in Yarmouth, and then started work as a probation officer in 1975.

The RCMP began its investigation of alleged sexual assaults after complaints were made to them in April 2010. The RCMP said that given the fact that the allegations date back decades, it was a lengthy and complex investigation.

The charges before the court have involved six complainants.

While in Yarmouth, and including the time he was a priest, LeBlanc was active in the community and was well liked. He coached minor hockey and organized trips to Boston for altar boys, young hockey players and others in the community to watch NHL games. For many of these boys these trips were a thrill as they got to see their first NHL hockey game and mingle with NHL hockey stars.

Often there were newspaper articles written about the trips. The articles outlined how LeBlanc’s connections with Boston Gardens’ officials granted the boys and their chaperones access to the dressing rooms for autographs and to meet NHL players. One article describes one of these trips as a father-son affair.

At the time of LeBlanc’s arrest, LeBlanc was ordered not to have any contact with children under the age of 16 while his matter is before the court.

Meanwhile, aside from the criminal charges, civil suits have also been filed against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax and the Diocese of Yarmouth relating to LeBlanc. LeBlanc is also named in the civil suits.

The London, Ontario law firm Ledroit Beckett, which filed the suits, says at this time priority is being given to the criminal charges before the court and the civil suits won’t proceed until after the criminal court case.

Watch NovaNewsNow.com this week for trial updates.

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Former Yarmouth priest pleads guilty to indecent assault

The Halifax Chronicle Herald

May 14, 2012 – 12:31pm By BRIAN MEDEL Yarmouth Bureau

Former Roman Catholic priest Albert LeBlanc leaves Yarmouth Provincial Court Monday. LeBlanc was there for the opening day of his trial on sexual abuse charges dating back decades. (BRIAN MEDEL / Yarmouth Bureau)

YARMOUTH — Albert LeBlanc, the former priest accused of sexually abusing boys in the 1970 and 80s, pleaded guilty this afternoon to six counts of indecent assault involving six victims.

About 20 people in Yarmouth provincial court broke into applause when they heard the plea. A group of about a dozen victims and their supporters began waiting this morning for their first glimpse of LeBlanc who spent most of the day behind closed doors.

Leblanc will be sentenced on Aug. 17 and remains free until then on strict conditions.

The charge of “indecent assault” is worded in the language of the criminal code prior to 1982, which is when Leblanc committed his crimes.

He originally faced 40 charges of gross indecency and indecent assault spanning 15 years starting 1970. The alleged victims were between the ages of seven and 11 at the time.

Now in his 80s, LeBlanc, a one-time Roman Catholic priest who later became a probation officer, was to stand trial this morning. However, Crown attorney Alonzo Wright and defence lawyer Gilles Lemieux met this morning to discuss the case, which was scheduled for five days.

Today is the first time that LeBlanc has been in the courthouse. He was arrested in early January 2011 in Bouctouche, N.B., where he lives with his wife, who is also in her 80s.

Police have since laid 10 additional charges which also date back to the 1970s.

Once the criminal case has been resolved, LeBlanc will also have to face a lawsuit launched by three of his accusers.

The men are seeking $5 million in damages in their suit against LeBlanc, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax and the Diocese of Yarmouth.

(bmedel@herald.ca)

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