Borne receives house arrest for indecent assault

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Eganville Leader

11 April 2012

By Debbi Christinck

Staff Writer

Pembroke — Robert Borne was sentenced to five months of house arrest for indecently assaulting a teen in Griffith in the late 1970s.

In court on Tuesday afternoon Justice Julianne Parfett sentenced him to a nine-month conditional sentence to be served in the community with the first five months under house arrest. The priest will be allowed to attend mass, make emergency medical visits and have three hours on Saturdays to buy his weekly necessities. He was also prohibited from contacting his victim or the victim’s family, as well as being prohibited from association with people under 18 without another adult present. He will be on probation for two years.

Msgr. Borne was found guilty in November of assaulting a then 16-year-old boy in 1979 while on an overnight visit to the parish in Griffith. The court heard he shared a bed with the boy and began kissing the teen, then went on to perform felatio on him.

Following his sentencing the priest received an emotional hug from his sister, Bonnie Coleman, who has been present in the courtroom supporting her brother throughout the trial and the sentencing, and broke down in tears following the sentence of house arrest. Msgr. Borne did not address the court on Tuesday, but listened impassively in the morning as victim impact statements were read into the court record stating his actions had damaged the reputation of the church and the faith of a family.

Justice Parfett said in cases of child sexual abuse sentencing is primarily for denunciation and deterrence. She said in this case the objectives were general deterrence since court-ordered assessments show the priest is at low risk to re-offend.

She said the reputation Msgr. Borne had in the community was a double-edged sword because it made the parents of the victim trust him. She stressed no blame should be attached to them for allowing their son to travel on the weekend with the priest.

“They placed their trust in Robert Borne and that trust was betrayed in the most heinous way possible,” she said.

In the issue of emotional trauma on the victim, there has been ample proof of the deep emotional trauma victims endure and it is to the credit of this victim he has been a successful member of the community, Justice Parfett said. As far as allegations made the victim merely wants financial compensation through a civil suit, she said this did not affect her ruling.

“Whether there is a civil suit does not impact that Robert Borne sexually assaulted (the victim whose identity is protected),” she said.

Mitigating circumstances in favour of Msgr. Borne included his lack of a prior record, the fact this was a single incident and there was no repetition of the crime in the last 30 years. Aggravating factors include the fact the victim was under 18, and although there was no formal priest/parishioner relationship, there was a level of trust because he was a priest, she said.

Crown asked for Jail

In closing arguments earlier in the day, following victim impact statements, assistant Crown attorney John Pepper asked for a sentence of nine to 12 months in custody with three years of probation.

“This is not the case of a momentary indiscretion,” he said. “It is the case of a sexual assault on a young person; to lose sight of that for one moment does not do justice to this case.”

He said the sentence should serve to denounce the offence, deter the offender and deter others from committing a similar offence. He said one issue to consider was the fact Msgr. Borne continues to state the victim shares responsibility for what occurred in Griffith. The priest also has “a lack of ability to admit there were issues involving a breach of trust,” Mr. Pepper said.

When the priest assaulted the young man the priest was a trusted participant in the family circle where their faith and life in the Catholic Church were of paramount importance, he noted

“It is a breach of trust,” he said. “It is a breach of trust as an employee of the Diocese.”

He said this was a breach of trust in the faith the parents of the victim placed in him when they allowed their son to travel with him to Griffith and on to Toronto.

“It is troubling he seems not to accept that,” he said.

Children are our most valuable and vulnerable assets and the consequences of this action have been deeply felt by the victim and his family, he said. Their faith in the church has been challenged if not completely obliterated, Mr. Pepper said.

It is clear Msgr. Borne is a gifted, perhaps even charismatic priest, but this only enabled him to lure in his victims, he said.

“It is that charisma, that respect, that popularity and acceptance which makes it easier for him to commit the offence,” he said.

This appearance of good character makes it easier for him to facilitate the offence, Mr. Pepper said.

Msgr. Borne’s offences have divided the community, he said. He also addressed the letters submitted to the court supporting Msgr. Borne by his defence attorney. He said some went so far as to attack the victim again.

“In judging the gravity of the offence the court should consider this is a breach of trust, a breach of trust with the faith community and a breach of trust with his employer,” he said. “It is an exploitation of a vulnerable and not very worldly person.”

This is a case of straight-out assault, Mr. Pepper said.

Victim Not Defenceless

Defence Attorney Robert Carew said the crime did not justify prison time and instead it should be a suspended sentence with probation. He said the court should remember the incident was of short duration and the victim does not remember how it ended. He said there were no threats of coercion or violence. This is not a classic case of breach of trust in the legal sense, he added. It is not a teacher-student, employer-employee or priest-altar boy relationship, he said.

“There was no element of trying to groom (the victim) or troll for him,” he said.

In fact, the 16-year-old was not vulnerable, but had a license and would later impregnate his teenage girlfriend, he noted.

“It is not a defenceless five or eight year old,” he said.

The character references presented to the court show of the positive impact Msgr. Borne has had on people, he said. In reply to the victim impact statements, he said the mother of the victim should be reminded her older son had initiated sexual contact with the priest and was quite experienced as found in the preliminary hearing. His case against the priest was dismissed earlier.

“There is a matter of debate and that is whether her son is a sexual predator,” he said of the older son.

The lawyer went on to say this woman went so far as to try to blackmail the priest later saying she knew what he had done when she wanted business from the Cathedral directed toward her family.

In addressing the victim impact statement of the victim, Mr. Carew pointed out while he said his faith in the Catholic Church was gone, in fact he was on school council in a Catholic school where his children attended.

Msgr. Borne is at low risk to re-offend, the lawyer said.

“My client has never been in trouble,” he said. “There have been no re-occurrences.”

Msgr. Borne did not have the intent to assault or hurt anyone, Mr. Carew said.

“This is one moment of indiscretion on the part of my client 30 years ago,” he said. “Is that enough to throw him in jail for a year?”

He said a suspended sentence would be more appropriate. He has already had enough punishment to serve as a deterrent for others, he noted.

“My client has effectively lost employment,” he said. “His whole life was dedicated to a religious career.”

Msgr. Borne has suffered from a loss of reputation, if that is part of the aim of sentencing, he said.

“There has been a lot of publicity against him,” he said. “All that could have a dissuasive effect.”

10 Responses to Borne receives house arrest for indecent assault

  1. undecided but coming around says:

    I am a member of the St. James parish. I have known Msgr. Borne since 1997. Up until the accusations, I saw him as a man of integrity and of strong faith. When I first heard the accusations I was horrified. I couldn’t believe they were talking about this man I had known and trusted for over a decade. It then turned to anger toward him. And that anger is still present, but I realize it is starting to dissipate.
    I haven’t seen Msgr. since the accusations became public but now I believe I can’t continue to judge him. He has been tried in the courts and he will start serving his sentence. After the probation period is over, I think I would attempt to treat him the same way I had before this whole thing began.
    As many have stated, Msgr. contributed so much to the community of Eganville. One indiscretion should not effectively erase over a decade of good, simply my personal opinion.

  2. Lina says:

    “undecided but coming around”
    Thanks for giving your viewpoint because it’s alright to agree to disagree here.

    My point:
    I did not read from your post one shred of compassion for the Msgr. Robert Borne’s victim or his mother or this victim’s family. It’s all about Robert Borne and only the good you saw him do and heard about.

    Did you really expect Msgr. Borne to show you a log of his criminal activities?

    There was even a Catholic priest from the Pembroke Diocese that posted some time ago that he helped a victim of Msgr. Borne. He urge this victim of Borne to go to the police but the victim refused to go, he was not ready to face the trial journey or whatever other reason he had.

    This Msgr. Borne priest that you THINK you know has more than one victim but you seem to be taking the easy way out because the Court system could only find Borne guilty for this one victim who was a minor at the time.

    By the way, two priests from the Pembroke Diocese express their opinions that Msgr. Robert Borne should be defrocked.

  3. Sylvia says:


    Since when is the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy by a priest no more than a mere clerical “indiscretion”? What Monsignor Robert Borne did was both sinful and criminal.

    As far as I’m concerned whatever “good” Monsignor Borne may have done in Eganville is forever tarnished by the reality that he was all the while a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  4. undecided but coming around says:

    I completely agree that Msgr. should be defrocked. I never once doubted that.

    My post was merely about forgiveness. And yes, I am basing it off of one victim because that is what has been proven. If more victims were proven to be valid, then I would include those as well.

    And I do very much have compassion for his victim and the victim’s family. I have felt for them ever since this became public.

    Our faith teaches forgiveness, and in time, I do believe Msgr. should be forgiven.

  5. Disgusting says:

    DISGUSTED! Our family has been members of St. James Parish in Eganville for five generations and we do not in any way condone the actions of Bob Borne. We are thoroughly disgusted with the number of so-called pillars of the church in our community who seem to have forgotten the difference between right and wrong. Some people are wearing blinders when it comes to Bob Borne because they don’t want to believe the truth. Bob Borne was charged, tried and found guilty. The evidence was compelling; there was no reasonable doubt. In fact, he himself admitted on the stand to having sexual encounters with other men, but professed not to be gay. That’s a queer explanation if we ever there was one.
    The whole Borne affair was focussed on Borne; some people painted him as the vicitm when evidence clearly showed he was the perpetrator. This was almost a trial by popularity; Bob Borne is seen as a celebrity by some. He knows how to manipulate. He had a warm smile for the widows, and a dirty joke for the guys.
    We wonder if these self-righteous Catholics, and people from other denominations who were hood-winked into writing letters on his behalf, would feel the same way if it were their son or grandson, or nephew or neighbour’s boy who was the victim.

    Please remember that of the 59 people who write letters, the majority of them were not from Eganville. That information is available through the courts. It is also interesting to know who encouraged people to write those letters.

    We were furious when we read the words of support preached in the courtroom Tuesday, April 10 by an Eganville lawyer who stated “while the river divides the homes of Catholics and Protestants in Eganville, Msgr. Borne brought people together”!
    This is utter nonsense, foolishness. My God, we’re Catholic and we live on the north side of the river (as do many other Catholics). What kind of jibberish is this from the mouth of a professional? Bob Borne’s past has caused enough hurt and conflict in Eganville, and has brought enough disdain to our beautiful village where people of all denominations have lived in harmony for generations. While we mean no disrespect to the City of Pembroke, you can keep him – ankle bracelets and all! he hasn’t done anything to enhance this beauitful little village or St. James Parish.

  6. MikeMc says:

    To undecided………forgiveness is such an overused word in this case. In his case, Bourne must pay the crime and be defrocked. He must not go near people under 18 ever again. He has taken away the innocense of this young man. The issue here is not forgiveness, but what the Church/society/counsellors can do for the victim to make the victim whole again..or at least as much healed as possible. I really think the Church and all those who knew about this priest (within the church from the 70s onward)) should be exposed.

  7. Larry Green says:

    With all due respect.
    While I, myself very often find it very difficult to forgive others , I would never try to persuade others ( who can and are willing to forgive) not to. Forgiveness is not only a word , it is a liberating act of ‘ free will.’ Jesus Himself teaches us how to forgive and why we should forgive others while at the same time He is at the heart of our capacity to do so. One of the many ways in which he taught us is when he spoke to the Father asking for strength , courage and the power to forgive those who were about to crucify Him and he said. “ This is how you pray.”
    Whether or not one believes in Christ it makes no sense at all to attack someone else because they are able and willing to forgive. It is totally and obviously an anti-Christ teaching.
    I would like to forgive many but due to my own weaknesses I can’t always find the power to . However, witnessing a forgiving and virtuous attitude in others is at least one thing for certain that should not receive a reaction produced by jealousy or any other wicked source of motivation.

  8. deeplybetrayed says:

    Please don’t consider this preachy, just sharing from my heart, in a soft voice . 🙂 Forgiveness was possible for Jesus and is possible for us because forgiveness is NOT about feelings. It is a decision. We separate the feeling from the decision. We separate the sin from the person. (Romans 7:14-25) It is an act of the will. Love also, as Jesus taught, is not a feeling, but an action. We do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
    Jesus didn’t feel like forgiving, he did it because it was the will of His Father. He IS love. He IS peace. He loved us while we were sinning against Him. He still loves us while we are sinning against Him….all of us. When someone asks us for forgiveness, we must forgive. Feelings are not important but they do come later on in the form of compassion. Unforgiveness eats at us like a cancer. Jesus knew no sin which is why Satan in the desert could not defeat Him or sway Him from doing what He came to do -to be the sacrifical Lamb for us, a justice required by the Father to reconcile us to Himself. Jesus became the bridge, the Restorer of that breach that separates us from God. You probably have heard it said, “Unforgiveness or bitterness is like drinking a cup of poision and expecting it to kill the other person”. It affects only us. It makes us sick. I have learned from many good sources that unforgiveness is a spiritual root to many diseases. The doctor’s reference manual has “fear, stress and anxiety” as the root of 80% of all diseases known today.
    Having said that, it is so disturbing that there is so much denial and coverup by the clergy and bishops/Vatican and courts, the very people who represent “justice and shepherding”. The shepherds preached this stuff about love, etc. and did the opposite. It is demonic. The pedophilia network is a huge one worldwide.
    This perversion has a feeding tube, a huge support base. I hope and pray that, by the Spirit of God, this will be broken open, exposed and brought down.
    For example, the horrific images that Raymond Lahey had on his computer did not suddenly appear there.
    It is painful to have to face these realities. But we have to. It’s not going away.
    Satan loves church and religion. He’s not a dummy. If we have no relationship with Jesus, if we don’t feel loved unconditionally by God, religion will brainwash us with guilt and shame.
    Many of my dear friends, wonderful people, cannot believe this stuff about clerical abuse and how widespread it is, they will not listen or read it. They say Sylvia’s site is a “witch hunt”. Denial is more comfortable. Fear, passivity and denial has always given the abusers more power, then they can reposition themselves (next parish) and go for the next vulnerable person.
    In the Serenity Prayer that many of us have heard – ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference” – we have to be courageous to step out on the water, even if alone, and change what we can. Righteous anger is good and motivating. We think and know changes are needed but just thinking won’t make the changes. It’s hard, tedious work.
    Thank you, Syliva, for doing what you can to motivate people and give them a place to vent and educate others, a place where they can be heard and not be intimidated.
    ” Thank you” to all of you who share and pray for and emotionally support those who share their story.

    Lord, give us strength for this journey.

  9. Lina says:


    ‘Your gem of a post touched me greatly.

    You manage to capture and describe your inner most thoughts f rom your heart that is full of well-balance wisdom.

    Thank you for sharing this here at Sylvia’s Site!’


  10. deeplybetrayed says:

    Thank you, Lina. These subjects are very difficult to address but we must try.

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