Second alleged victim recalls Borne advances at Griffith rectory (Day Two of trial)

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The Eganville Leader

23 November 2011

By Debbi Christinck

Staff Writer

Editor’s note: This story describes sexual acts and may be inappropriate for some readers

Pembroke — A man Msgr. Robert Borne is accused of sexually molesting recounted how he was a 16-year-old boy when the priest took him on a trip to Toronto and at an overnight stop at the church rectory in Griffith the older man began to kiss him.

“I was a 15 year old boy, a 16 year old boy at this time,“ the man, whose identity is protected under a court ordered publication ban, told the court on Tuesday morning. “I had no interest in having a sexual relationship with a man; I would not go into someone’s bed like that.”

Msgr. Borne is on trial facing four counts relating to sexual incidents involving two teenage boys. He faces two charges of indecent assault and two of acts of gross indecency from incidents dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when the men were teenagers. This witness was the second witness to testify about the abuse he alleges happened at the hands of the priest.

The trial of the former Eganville parish priest continued Tuesday morning. When the second alleged victim began giving his testimony, he said the priest was well known to him, having been friends with his older brother. The middle-aged man, who still lives in the county and is now married with children of his own, said he grew up as the child of Polish Catholic parents and church was a big part of family life. He said he first met Msgr. Borne through his brother.

“What did you know about the relationship between your brother and Robert Borne?” assistant Crown attorney John Pepper asked.

“They were friends,” the witness replied.

The relationship progressed and he would spend more time with the priest, both in his home and at the rectory. His parents looked on the relationship favourably, he testified. ”They appeared to welcome him with open arms,” he said. “He was a priest.”

When questioned, the witness said he would go visit the rectory, and soon came to borrow Msgr. Borne’s car, as well as having drinks with him in the rectory and watching TV together.

When he was 16 and got his license he had limited access to the family car, but he was allowed to drive Msgr. Borne’s car occasionally, he said.

In 1979, he was invited on a trip by the priest, he said. The witness said Msgr. Borne was filling in for a priest in Griffith. The plan was to go to mass in Griffith and then go to Toronto to see the CN Tower and other things, he testified.

They left for Griffith on a Saturday, the witness said.

“The plan was to stay at the rectory in Griffith,” he said.

There was mass that evening at a church near Griffith, or possibly between Griffith and Eganville, he said. Afterwards they came back to the rectory, he testified.

“I know we had drinks, something to eat and watched TV,” he said.

“Did you bring your own alcohol?” Mr. Pepper asked.

“No, I would not have had access,” he replied.

“Whose idea was it for you to drink alcohol?” the Crown asked.

“It would have been mine if it was available,” he said.

Sexual advances

The witness said he did not remember any discussion about sleeping arrangements at the rectory. When he was in bed, the priest began making sexual advances towards him, he said.

“I remember Robert Borne kissing me,” he said. “I felt traumatized; if I was drunk, I sobered up pretty quickly.

“The next thing I knew he was performing oral sex on me,” he said.

The witness said he remembers the incident well, and the initial kiss.

“I felt the stubble of beard,” he said. “I recall that vividly; I remember going rigid. I was very tense.”

Mr. Pepper asked the witness if he wanted to have any sexual contact with Msgr. Borne. |

“No,” the witness said.

The whole event happened quite quickly, he said.

“I don’t recall it being very long,” he said. “I did not want anything to happen. I was trying to block it out.”

The witness said he does not know how it ended, but believes he went to sleep.

Mr, Pepper asked if he was prepared for something like this to happen when the trip to Toronto was planned.

”I don’t know how anything can prepare you for this,” the witness said.

The next morning was mass in Griffith and then the two men drove towards Toronto, spending the night in the Peterborough area, he testified.

“The car drive was very quiet,” he said. “I did not want to bring it up.”

When they got to the motel he testified he told the priest he “was not interested in that kind of relationship. I did not want the same thing to happen again.”

The witness said Msgr. Borne seemed to respect what he said and nothing of a sexual nature ever happened between them again. They went to Toronto and came back to Pembroke. A short while later Msgr. Borne gave him some money when the then teen was going on a trip to visit a girl in southern Ontario, he testified.

He continued to see Msgr, Borne, borrowing his car and later asking advice when the teenager got his girlfriend pregnant, he testified.

When a detective with the Ontario Provincial Police came to talk to him a few years ago about the priest, he told them what had happened, he testified.

“Did you know anything about the relationship between Robert Borne and your brother?” the Crown asked.

“I knew they had a relationship, but I did not know details,” the witness said.

Cross Examination

In his cross-examination, defence lawyer Robert Carew questioned the young man about his recollections around the time of the incident. He began by asking about his relationship with the priest when he would visit the rectory.

“You were not there for religious counsel?” he aced.

“No,” the witness said.

Alcohol was present and available during the relationship, and Mr. Carew questioned whether the witness was drunk when with the priest.

“I remember being drunk on more than one occasion,” the man testified.

He said alcohol was an appealing factor at the time.

“As a 15-year-old boy if the opportunity to have alcohol was presented to me, I certainly was interested in it,” he testified.

Mr. Carew pointed out a few years ago the witness rain into Msgr. Borne at a school council meeting, where he chatted with him and introduced him to his wife.

“Yes, I’m that type of person,” the witness said. “I don’t hold grudges.”

The defence counsel asked why when the witness was first interviewed in 2008 he did not want to prepare charges.

“I was not prepared,” he said.

When he eventually decided to press charges it was because of things going on with his own children, he testified.

“I don’t recall how it came about in pressing charges” he said.

“Was part of it to support your brother?” Mr. Carew asked.

“No,” the witness said.

In questioning the witness about the incident at the Griffith rectory, he asked could he not have gotten out of the bed initially.

“You were not kidnapped there,” he said. “You are free to do what you want.”

He asked the witness how long he was in bed before the sexual contact occurred.

“It happened very fast,” he said “I was in bed and all the sudden, I remember being kissed.”

The defence lawyer questioned if some of the conversation at that point was about the then teen not minding having sex with males or females.

“I don’t recall discussing having sex with men,” he said.

Msgr. Borne’s lawyer asked why he did not express the surprise he felt or verbalize his feelings after the kiss and the felatio.

“I did not say anything,” the witness replied. “I was very tensed up.”

Mr. Carew asked about when the witness told the priest he was not interested in a relationship when they were in Peterborough and still continuing on the trip.

“I’m not going to say I was not apprehensive,” the witness said. “I had to continue on the trip. I was not going to walk home.”

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