Victim describes loss of faith in Catholic Church because of abuse by Robert Borne

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The Eganville Leader

11 April 2012

By Debbi Christinck

Staff Writer

Pembroke — A man who was indecently assaulted by Msgr. Robert Borne in the Griffith rectory gave his victim impact statement in court on Tuesday morning during the sentencing of the priest and said the assault destroyed his faith in the Catholic Church and changed his life.

“I have lost all faith in the Catholic Church and priests,” the man, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, said.

Prior to this, the church had been a big part of family life since he was raised in a strong Polish-French Catholic family, he said. His parents were loving people who never turned anyone away and taught him at a young age to respect his family, his parents and his church, he said.

“I was taught the value of religion and to have respect for the priests,” he said. “The priests were the father of our church and should have the same respect as my father.”

When he met Msgr. Borne he thought the relationship would be similar to the positive one he had with his father, he said.

“The incident where Bob Borne betrayed my trust has changed my life forever,” he said.

As he read his victim impact statement to the court, Msgr. Borne, dressed in a dark gray suit with no clerical collar, sat impassively. The victim’s wife and parents were also present in court, as were members of Msgr. Borne’s family.

The court had heard during the trial Msgr. Borne invited him to the rectory in Griffith and then to a weekend trip in Toronto. While in Griffith the two men shared a bed and the priest began to kiss the then-16-year-old, then proceeded to perform oral sex on him. During the trial the young man testified he went rigid when this happened because it was unexpected and he did not know what to do. The next day he told the priest he was not interested in that type of a relationship, the court heard during the earlier trial.

This happened 30 years ago, but changed his life forever, he told the court Tuesday morning.

“The concept I had of the Catholic Church had been shattered,” he said.

Since then he is convinced most of the priests and the bishop knew what was going on, he said in his victim impact statement.

“Why did none of the other priests come forward?” he asked. “Were the other priests not concerned with what he was doing?”

Or, were they covering up or doing the same things themselves, he asked.

“My faith in the Catholic Church is gone,” he concluded.

When he was done with his statement, Msgr. Borne’s lawyer, Robert Carew asked if he could question the witness. Justice Julianne Parfett said cross-examination of a victim impact statement was not allowed.

Gravity of Betrayal

Assistant Crown Attorney John Pepper read the victim impact statement of the victim’s mother, who was present in court. She said in order to understand the “gravity of this betrayal” it is important to recognize the role the Catholic Church played in her life. She said going to Catholic school and going to the Cathedral, the church was an important part of her life.

“It was our sanctuary and we were taught to respect the priest,” she said.

When Msgr. Borne befriended her sons she was “both pleased and flattered,” she said.

“That this priest, the bishop’s secretary, would take an interest in our home.”

When years later her two sons — both of whom had a sexual experience with Msgr. Borne — confided in each other about this and then revealed this to their parents, she was devastated. After much deliberation the family decided not to press charges, however, she went to the Bishop’s Palace to confront Msgr. Borne, who denied everything, she said. At the time she felt he would not have let her speak to the bishop since he was the bishop’s secretary. Frustrated, she left.

“I wished to Bob that God have mercy on his soul,” she said.

However, the knowledge the priest had made sexual advances towards her sons made her guilt-ridden and unable to take solace in the church.

“My faith in God did not waver and more and more I turned to God for a solution,” she said.

She eventually spoke to her doctor and parish priest “whose hands seemed to be tied”, she said.

When she read about Msgr. Borne’s arrest she found comfort in the knowledge he would not be able to abuse other boys, she said. At least parents were now aware of the danger, she said.

The abuse by the priest caused her son’s behaviour to spin out of control after he was 16, she said. Since then he has overcome this past in many ways and she is a very proud mother of how he parents his children and what a grandparent he is, she said.

The betrayal by Msgr. Borne was terrible, she said in her statement.

“To have someone you trust worm his way in to your family’s life and stalk your children,” she said.

In her despair, she thought of calling Msgr. Borne’s mother and telling her what her son had done, but she never did so.

“I wish he had never darkened our doorstep,” she said.

In concluding, she repeated the words she used when she confronted the priest many years ago.

“I can only wish God has mercy on his soul,” she said.

Compassion For Priest

Eganville lawyer Stewart Lavigueur spoke as a character witness for Msgr. Borne and said his opinoin of the priest, whom he considers a friend, has not been affected by the negative publicity surrounding his trial.

“No, it has not affected my opinion of Msgr. Borne at all, with what he has done for me and my family,” he said.

He said he met the priest in 1994 and as the parish worked to rebuild St. James the Less in Eganville they became friends.

“My youngest son would drop in and see Monsignor quite a bit,” he said. “He thought a lot of him.”

Msgr. Borne is held in high regard in the community, he said. While the river divides the homes of Catholics and Protestants in Eganville, Msgr. Borne brought people together.

“He had respect and continues to have respect from people,” he said.

His late wife, Maureen, said the priest was one of the best priests the parish ever had because he would go the extra mile for people, he said. In fact, on the day before his trial began Msgr. Borne visited her in the hospital, Mr. Lavigueur recalled. That is the kind of person he was.

After he finished his statement, he spoke directly to Justice Parfett.

“I have been a lawyer for 31 years,” he said. “I know you must show compassion to the victim, but you can also show compassion to the accused as well.”

The court also had 59 letters of support for Msgr. Borne filed by his lawyer.


4 Responses to Victim describes loss of faith in Catholic Church because of abuse by Robert Borne

  1. deeplybetrayed says:

    This story contains the same pattern of ways/methods priests befriend parents who have children, especially boys. Priests “would do anything” and parents were “proud to have priests’ befriend their children. How many times I have heard that this was “one of the best priests” they ever had or he is “held in high regard”. That priests are respected for all they do is a common sentiment, and here he even brought prostestants and catholics together. Then the underlying reason comes out.
    The perversion or addiction underlies the good they do. Predators are clever. They often bond with family first. They would go “the extra mile” for a chance to get at a boy/young man. My brother was sexually abused from 8-10 years old by a friend and neighbor of my mother’s. We were absolutely shocked and enraged to learn that truth years later. It’s clever what they do to get the respect of the community.
    That the character witness, Stewart’s opinion of Msgr. Borne hasn’t changed makes me uncomfortable. It says to me that this kind of abuse is acceptable and doesn’t alter the character of the abuser. If the crime were different, would it change his opinion? A real friend confronts you when he believes you are doing something wrong.
    I pray for such friends for myself. We have to be held accountable. The court is not about having compassion, but about getting at the facts/truth.
    Perhaps crimes that give the perpetrator pleasure is not deemed a crime?
    Bank robbers and murderers get a “rush” from what they do, too.

  2. Lina says:

    This courageous mother went to the Bishop’s Palace to confront Msgr. Borne, but Borne denied everything about his evil acts he did to her sons.

    Her sons were the liars not Msgr. Borne who was this shining rising star in the Pembroke Diocese and he was the Bishop’s secretary.

    This brave lady showed amazing self-controlled when she went to see Msgr. Borne and it was obvious then Robert Borne would not tell her the TRUTH.

    The mother spoke to her parish priest whose hands seemed to be tied.

    That priest must have used that Pontius Pilate free pass card. (sarcastic)

    Many years later Msgr. Robert Borne is still trying to hide the truth.

    We now know Borne was found guilty of criminal acts on one of her sons.

    Msgr. Robert Borne’s lawyer earn his pay he did manage to keep Robert Borne out of jail.

    When this mother was told what Borne did to her sons she BELIEVED her sons.

    The Catholic Church…well you know rest of this sad story.

    Furthemore, similar cases like Msgr. Robert Borne are still being battled out in courtrooms daily around the world.

    Congratualtions to this mother and all her family and supporters!

  3. Lina says:

    About this victim’s questions:
    “This happened 30 years ago, but changed his life forever, he told the court Tuesday morning.

    Since then he is convinced most of the priests and the bishop knew what was going on, he said in his victim impact statement.

    “Why did none of the other priests come forward?” he asked. “Were the other priests not concerned with what he was doing?”

    Or, were they covering up or doing the same things themselves, he asked.”

    This is probably the reason in the above post why the priests in the Pembroke Diocese are being painted with the same brush as Bernard Prince, Msgr. Borne, etc…

    It does seem UNFAIR to the other priests and clergy doesn’t it?

    This is the rippling effects when you priests keep quiet.

    Your silence is paralyzing and becoming deadly to so many Catholic people in the Pembroke Diocese.

    Catholic folks are losing confidence and credibility not only in their priests but also in their Bishop.

    Remember…there was never a time like this in the Pembroke Diocese before!

  4. Lina says:

    First of all, if any of you good people are having TROUBLE posting your comments at Sylvia’s Site. It’s not your computer’s fault.

    Please contact Sylvia! She can help you but YOU do need to let her know about your posting problems and if you find a broken link to some articles you are trying to access to, please let Sylvia know also.

    This is my last post about Msgr. Robert Borne concerning his recent sentencing.

    Many of us have memories of Msgr. Robert Borne performing ordinary functions as a priest in our lives.

    Many people do have pictures of Msgr. Borne’s in their photo albums.

    Msgr. Borne pretends he did very little wrong and the JUDGE gave him even more reason to think that way with that light Holiday Inn with room service sentence.

    Msgr. Borne doesn’t fool us; this monsignor Borne is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    Sadly, Msgr. Borne is still fooling a lot of people and many of them are in denial.

    For all those priests and bishops who knew about Borne’s activities against the young and the innocent victims of his. Priests like you are Borne’s enablers and should be punished.
    Your day of judgment is coming. This would be a good thing for the sake of all Msgr. Borne’s VICTIMS.

    For all those saying I’m too judgmental…people like you belong to a very sick fan club base of Msgr. Robert “Bobby” Borne and you seem to deserve each other. You are so out of touch and I’m out of time!


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