Published on August 30, 2011
By Tina Comeau
A week has been set aside in provincial court in May 2012 for the trial of a former Yarmouth priest who is facing 50 charges of indecent assault and gross indecency.
Albert LeBlanc, 82, who lives in New Brunswick, was not present in court, nor was his lawyer, for his latest court appearance on Aug. 29. Lawyer Phil Star, acting as an agent for the defence, waived the reading of the charges and made the election to provincial court for trial. LeBlanc also had the choice of a trial by a judge and jury, or a judge alone, in Supreme Court.
Some of the sexual-related allegations before the court date back to when LeBlanc was a priest, but the majority of the charges date back to after he had left the priesthood. The charges involve six complainants who, although they are grown men now, would have been young boys, most between the ages of seven and 11, at the time the offences are alleged to have occurred.
A publication ban protects the identities of the complainants. Court documents describe some of the alleged offences as oral sex and fondling.
Because LeBlanc has elected a trial at the provincial court level there will be no preliminary inquiry prior to his trial.
An outstanding issue that was not confirmed with the court on Aug. 29 is whether this will be a bilingual trial or a French trial.
The trial is scheduled to begin on May 14, providing this meets with the schedule of Judge Robert Prince.
The offences before the court are alleged to have taken place between 1964 and 1985. LeBlanc resigned from the priesthood in 1973.
The Archdiocese of Halifax has said it was LeBlanc’s choice to leave the priesthood. In a letter 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.
While in Yarmouth, LeBlanc also coached minor hockey and used to organize trips to Boston for altar boys, young hockey players and others in the community to watch NHL games.
He was arrested at his home in Bouctouche, N.B., on Jan. 6. While this matter is before the court LeBlanc is ordered not to have any contact with children under the age of 16.