The Halifax Chronicle Herald
May 15, 2012 – 12:18pm
Their cases are far from over, but seeing former Roman Catholic priest Albert LeBlanc plead guilty to sexual abuse is an important step for some of his victims.
“It means a big deal to the men because it shows he acknowledged what he does,” lawyer Aaron Lealess said.
“There shouldn’t be any doubt in anyone’s mind that he was an abuser and he did commit those crimes.”
Lealess, an Ontario lawyer representing four of the victims in civil cases against LeBlanc, spoke to the men shortly after Monday’s proceedings.
The men, who were children when the abuse occurred, “were prepared to testify at the criminal trial and it was only yesterday that the issue of a plea bargain came up,” Lealess said.
Not having to testify relieved some of the stress, at least in the short term, for the men, he said. And it marked an important moment for them.
“It’s one of the biggest steps in a victim’s healing processes,” Lealess said.
“And the fact that he’s pled guilty on his own, especially within Catholic circles. . . there always seems to be a group of supporters of people that don’t believe . . . it could happen or they don’t believe a priest could do that. And then when the priest pleads guilty, it just bolsters the victim’s confidence.”
LeBlanc’s plea also means the civil cases against LeBlanc, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax and the Diocese of Yarmouth can proceed.
The plaintiffs are suing over abuse they say took place over several years in the 1970s and 80s, while LeBlanc was a priest and after he left the priesthood in 1975 to become a probation officer.
The diocese has said LeBlanc, who served at St. Ambrose Cathedral and Notre Dame de Fatima, wasn’t asked to leave the priesthood.
Lealess said he has been in contact with Roman Catholic officials in Nova Scotia and dates have been set to move the case along.