Hubert Patrick O’Connor
Oblate priest/bishop. Ordained 05 June 1955. Bishop of Whitehorse Yukon 1971-86. Bishop of Prince George, British Columbia 1986-resignation in 1991) Charged Feb. 1991. The sex charges against O’Connor dragged through the courts for 7 years. O’Connor, who claimed the sexual interaction was consensual, fathered a child with one his victims. Initially he was found guilty of several of the charges. From thereon there were numerous appeals and two trials stemming from the initial charges. The case wound its way up to the Supreme Court of Canada. According to media reports, by the end of the saga O’Connor’s lawyer had whittled the original six charges involving five former students down to one one count of rape which the Crown was ready to take to the Supreme Court. After a healing circle in 1998 during which O’Connor apologised (see below) the Crown decided not to pursue the charges any further. According to media reports, by then the victims and the native community had grown weary and had had enough.
Also serving at the school while O’Connor was Principal were Father Harold McIntee omi and Oblate Brother Glenn Doughty. Both McIntee and Doughty were charged and convicted. (Doughty’s name is on the Accused list – I have not as yet managed to put together a page of info for him)
Legal documents and info
24 March 1998: B.C. Court of Appeal acquitted Bishop O’Connor of indecent assault of teenage girl and ordered a new trial on the rape charge (After healing circle June 1998 Cron decided not to pursue prosecution)
26 March 1997: Regina v. Hubert Patrick O’Connor (Court of Appeal for British Columbia: Oral Reasons for Judgment – bail granted) Justices Carrothers, Goldie and MacFarlane)
16 September 1996: R. v. O’Connor, 1996 CanLII 8393 (BC CA) Court of Appeal for British Columbia – application for release denied) Madame Justice Proudfoot
13 September 1996: R v O’Connor 1996 (Supreme Court of British Columbia – Sentencing – 21/2 years and 3 months to run concurrently ) Justice Oppal
06 December 1996: Regina v. Hubert Patrick O’Connor (Court of Appeal for British Columbia ‘- appeal re bail not frivolous – order to review) Chief Justice McEachern
1995: R.v. O’Connor: Hubert Patrick O’Connor v. Her Majesty The Queen (Interveners: The Attorney general of Canada, the Attorney general of Ontario, the Aboriginal Women’s Council, the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, the Disabled Women’s Network of Canada, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law) (Supreme Court of Canada – Appealing BC Court of Appeal decision ordering a new trial – Appeal dismissed) Justices Lamer C.J., La Forest, L’Heureux-Dubé, Sopinka, Gonthier, Cory, McLachlin, Iacobucci and Major JJ. Justices Lamer and Sopinka and Justice Major dissenting
30 March 1994: Regina v Hubert Patrick O’Connor and (Intervenors) Attorney General of Canada; Canadian Mental Health Association; and Aboriginal Women’s Council; Canadain Association of Sexual Assault Centres; DAWN Canada (Disabled Women’s Network Canada), and Women’s Legal Education Action Fund (Court of Appeal for British Columbia – Reasons for Judgment of the Court – allowed the appeal, set aside the stay and directed that a new trial be held) Justices Taylor, Wood, Hollinrake, and Madam Justices Rowles and Prowse.
03 March 1993: Regina v. Hubert Patrick O’Connor (Court of Appeal for British Columbia – Oral Reasons for Judgment – application for leave for Crown “to adduce new evidence on the hearing of an appeal against the entry of a judicial stay of proceedings during the course of the trial…”‘ appeal to be heard 15 & 16 September 1993.) Justices Wood, Hollinrake and Taylor
24 November 1992: Regina v. Hubert Patrick O’Connor (Supreme Court of British Columbia – Reasons for Judgment – Apllication to quash dismissed) Justice Thackery
22 October 1992: Regina v. Hubert Patrick O’Connor (Supreme Court of British Columbia – Reasons for Judgment – re application for stay “The case must be ‘left to take its course and to be dealt with by the Court on the evidence'”) Justice Allan D. Thackray
The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD). legal documents (L) and media (M) and 1999 Oblate Directory (OD99)
July 2007: Died in Toronto of heart attack at age of 79 (M)
2000, 1999, 1998: 2327 Calais Rd., RR #1, Duncan, B.C. (CCCD)
June 1998: healing circle – O’Connor apologised to his victims – after the healing circle the Crown decided not pursue its prosecution against O’Connor (M)
24 March 1998: appeal on count 3 allowed and new trial ordered; Appeal on count 3 allowed and acquittal entered. 24 March 1998 British Columbia Court of Appeal: R. v. O’Connor (L)
1997: c/o 1311 The Crescent, Vancouver, B.C. (CCCD)
1997: application for day parole denied (M) According to media: “The parole board called him ‘an unmanageable risk’ who viewed his victims with contempt.” (L)
13 September 1996: R. v. O’Connor, 1996 CanLII 8458 (BC SC) Sentencing
Excerpt from above:
One such reference comes from Reverend Francis Morrisey, a priest and professor of canon law at the University of Ottawa. He writes:
I have always found him [O’Connor] to be fair in his dealings with others. I have always found him concerned for persons for doing what is right. For this reason I was very surprised and saddened when I first heard of the charges brought against him. The actions in question are certainly shocking and out of character. I would hope that they not negate the good he had done for more than 30 years as a priest and later as a bishop in Western Canada.
These past five years have been most trying for him and also for the church community which he served. The process has been long and difficult with inevitable effects on his physical and psychological health. While in no way condoning what has happened, I would not want him to become a broken man. He deserves understanding and compassion at this difficult time in his life. In fact, because of the publicity surrounding this case and the time that has elapsed, he has already more than paid his debt to society.
Another such letter comes from Bishop Remi DeRooof the Diocese of Victoria. Bishop DeRoo writes:
Hub O’Connor has always impressed me as a gentle, quiet and unassuming person. He has constantly been a reliable and trustworthy administrator and to the best of my knowledge was held in high esteem … Please allow me to respectfully submit that the actions for which he is about to be sentenced appear to me as having been completely out of character with what I have experienced of Hub O’Connor as a person. I was astounded to allow that there might have been such conduct in his past. His relationships with people in a variety of situations always appear to me as above reproach, reflecting a person of complete integrity.
13 September 1996: sentenced to 2 ½ years for rape conviction and three (3) months for indecent assault to run concurrently R. v. O’Connor, 1996 CanLII 8458 (BC SC)
25 July 1996 convicted on two of four counts . Appealed one of the two convictions Convicted of rape and indecent assault
14 December 1995: “Since the right of the accused to a fair trial has not been balanced with the competing rights of the complainant to privacy and to equality without discrimination in this case, a new trial should be ordered.”
1996, 1995: “Address unknown”
1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991: Address for Diocese of Prince George diocesan centre
24 November 1992: O’Connor Application to quash all counts dismissed 24 November 1992
22 October 1992: Regina v. Hubert Patrick O’Connor (requesting stay)
03-04 July 1991: Preliminary Inquiry in Williams Lake, B.C.
07 February 1991: charges laid (M)
resigned as Bishop of Prince George
1991: Bishop of Prince George, B.C. (CCCD)
August 1986: Installed as Bishop of Prince George, B.C. (CCCD)
15 October 1971: appointed Bishop of Whitehorse (CCCD)
Spring 1962: – 1968: Principal of school near Williams Lake, British Columbia (L)
1968: Director, Provincial Bursar, Vancouver – Crescent
1967: Pastor, Missionary, Lillooet – St. John’s Parish (OD99)
1967: St. Joseph’s Indian School, William’s Lake, British Columbia (CCCD)
Also listed as Indian School Cariboo with address St. Joseph’s, William’s Lake, British Columbia (CCCD)
O’Connor’s charges and conviction stemmed from his years at this school (M)
Spring 1962: Principal Cariboo Indian Residential School (300 children K through Gr. 9) 25 staff, including Oblates and Sisters of the Child Jesus (M and L)
February 1961: Cariboo Indian Residential School in Williams Lake (L)
1961: Superior, St. Joseph’s Mission & Principal, Indian Residential School, Williams Lake, British Columbia (OD99)
1959: Holy Rosary Scholisticate, Ottawa, Ontario (CCCD)
1956: Bursar, Holy Rosary School, Ottawa, Ontario (OD99)
05 June 1955: ORDAINED in Ottawa
Studied in Ottawa
17 February 1928: born Huntiingdon, Quebec
Disgraced B.C. bishop dies in Toronto of heart attack
28 July 2007
Obituary of Hubert O’Connor.
Former Roman Catholic Bishop Hubert O’Connor, convicted in 1996 of raping one native teenage girl and indecently assaulting another, has died of a heart attack.
O’Connor died in Toronto on Tuesday at age 79, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a news release.
O’Connor resigned as bishop of the diocese of Prince George, B.C., when he first faced sex charges in 1991. When he was convicted in 1996 he was then the highest-ranking Catholic in the world to be found guilty of sex offences.
Both incidents took place in the 1960s, while O’Connor was a priest and principal of the Cariboo Indian Residential School near Williams Lake, B.C. Members of the four native bands in the area had accused O’Connor and other members of his order of physical, sexual and mental abuse.
Sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, O’Connor applied for day parole in 1997, and was turned down. The parole board called him “an unmanageable risk” who viewed his victims with contempt.
Disgraced B.C. bishop dead of heart attack
Toronto Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail Update
Published Friday, Jul. 27, 2007 3:13PM EDT
Last updated Friday, Apr. 03, 2009 10:10AM EDT
Hubert O’Connor, the disgraced Roman Catholic bishop, has died of a heart attack in Toronto. He was 79.
His death was announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.He resigned as bishop of the British Columbia diocese of Prince George after being charged with sex crimes in 1991.He was convicted in 1996 of committing rape and indecent assault on two young aboriginal women during the 1960s when he was a priest. He was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison by Mr. Justice Wally Oppal, who is now British Columbia’s attorney general. After serving six months, the disgraced clergyman was released on $1,000 bail.The B.C. Court of Appeal later acquitted him of sexually assaulting a student at a Williams Lake residential school, where he was principal.The appeal court also set aside his conviction for rape of a school secretary, ordering a new trial.Instead, authorities agreed to drop the rape charge after the former bishop apologized to his accuser in 1998 at a traditional native healing circle held at Alkali Lake, a small native village near Williams Lake in the B.C. Interior.Earlier, he had told court during a bail hearing that “if I had not broken my vow of chastity I would not be here today. I have paid a very heavy price.”Court heard lurid details about a predatory priest who used his position to attain sex, which he would later insist was consensual. A former student testified he had ordered her to clean his bathroom, then pulled her onto his bed and said: “Let’s have some fun.”The former secretary testified he had once presented her with a Christmas gift of a statue of the Virgin Mary before feeling her breasts and trying to kiss her.He maintained his innocence throughout the long court battle, arguing his accusers had consented to sex. He admitted to fathering a child who was placed for adoption.The case attracted widespread attention, as it became a symbol for debate about the role of the justice system in handling cases of aboriginals abused at church-run residential schools.The original charges were suspended when the defence successfully argued the Crown failed to provide the records of the therapists and psychologists who treated the accusers. A defendant’s right to such access was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, a decision bitterly denounced by women’s groups and advocates for sexual assault victims.Parliament later passed Bill C-46, which offered some privacy protection regarding a complainant’s counselling records in such cases.Hubert Patrick O’Connor was born on Feb. 17, 1928, at Huntingdon, Que.He was ordained to the priesthood in 1955 and became bishop of Whitehorse in Yukon in 1971. In 1986, he was named bishop of Prince George, resigning in 1991.He died suddenly in Toronto on Tuesday.Despite his admission of wrongdoing, he retained the honorific of most reverend and held the title of bishop emeritus.A burial mass is to be held on Aug. 7 at St. Augustine’s Church in Vancouver, followed by burial at the Oblate Cemetery at Mission, B.C.
Bishop O’Connor apologizes to natives
Last Updated: Friday, November 13, 1998 | 11:31 PM ET
In British Columbia, a Roman Catholic bishop will be staying out of a courtroom after joining in an aboriginal healing circle. Hubert O’Connor apologized to his alleged victims.O’Connor did not admit to any crimes, but he did admit to breaking his vow of chastity.
“I have and will continue to do my penance until I die, both in the community and before God,” O’Connor told the natives.
Two years ago O’Connor, 71, was convicted of rape and indecent assault of female students at residential schools.
He was acquitted of the indecent assault in an appeal this spring. A new trial was ordered for the rape charge. Now the Crown says it will not pursue the case any further because of this week’s apology.
O’Connor made the apology Monday during a healing circle in Alkali Lake near Williams Lake. His victims said they felt the healing circle has enabled them to get on with their lives.
Marilyn Belleau, 51, said she’d been through four different prosecutors on the case and had to tell her story over and over. “At times, I felt further victimized by the courts.”
On Monday, she was able to tell O’Connor how she had suffered. “To me, I feel freer because of this,” she said Wednesday. “I no longer feel that cloak of shame. I’ve let it go.”
O’CONNOR APPEAL DROPPED AFTER HEALING CIRCLE
The ceremony allowed the women the former bishop had sex with to confront him and hear his apology
June 18, 1998
Douglas Todd - Sun Religion Reporter
One of the most notorious sex cases in Canadian history came to an unusual end early this week in a private seven-hour native healing circle in which former Prince George bishop Hubert O’Connor apologized to the native Indian women with whom he had sex. After the healing circle, with the consent of the native women O’Connor had been charged with sexually abusing 30 years earlier when he was principal of St. Joseph’s residential school near Williams Lake, the B.C. Crown decided not to pursue its prosecution against the disgraced 71-year-old bishop.
The infamous case of O’Connor — which involves the highest Catholic official in the world ever believed to have been charged with sex crimes — has dragged through the courts for more than seven years. Two trials had been held as well as numerous appeals, including one to the Supreme Court of Canada. The defence lawyer for O’Connor, Chris Considine, had slowly whittled the original six charges involving five former students and employees of O’Connor down to one count of rape, which the Crown was ready to take to the Supreme Court of Canada.
But the complainants and native community said they were growing weary of what they considered a destructive court process. So with the smell of sacred sage smoke drifting through a native meeting hall in Alkali Lake on Monday, O’Connor apologized to his former students for what he called “my breach as a priest and my unacceptable behaviour, which was totally wrong. I took a vow of chastity and I broke it.”
The complainant who still had a chance of her case being heard in court, Marilyn Belleau, 51, was an 18 year-old employee at the residential school when O’Connor first had sexual intercourse with her. In an interview Wednesday, she said: “I chose to participate in this healing circle to empower myself. I was able to confront him [O’Connor] with the hurts and pains he has caused me. I have had to live with this pain for over 30 years.”
After being required to give her testimony at a preliminary hearing and two trials, Belleau, her voice breaking with emotion, said she had had enough of “being victimized by the courts. They can be cold and calculating.”
Charlene Belleau, speaking for the complainants and the sister-in-law of Marilyn, said holding the traditional healing circle was a big step that provided “a sense of freedom” for the Esketemc natives around Williams Lake.
The traditional healing circle gives victims, their families and perpetrators the chance to fully express themselves and reach an understanding, with no one being allowed to interrupt the other.
The current bishop of Prince George, Gerry Wiesner, RCMP Staff-Sergeant Peter Eakins, native leader Wendy Grant-John and B.C. and federal government officials took part in the circle. Charlene Belleau and Ernie Quantz, B.C. assistant deputy attorney-general, led the ceremony.
“It was nice to get out of the control of the court system and and out of the control of O’Connor himself,” Charlene Belleau said. “There was no way at Monday’s healing circle that he got away with anything. I would say he felt some of the fear and pain that natives have felt for all these years.”
O’Connor, who had earlier infuriated natives by refusing to apologize, was required to listen during the healing circle while Marilyn Belleau and other complainants spoke in detail about how O’Connor’s actions had hurt them, their families and communities. O’Connor fathered a baby with one of the women.
The healing circle had three parts, each of which began with a pipe ceremony. After a long talk with O’Connor, Marilyn Belleau was given a break and a chance to withdraw from the process. But she decided to proceed, and eventually 38 participants, including many natives and O’Connor’s relatives, were brought in.
Marilyn Belleau said O’Connor was very uncomfortable during the ceremony. Asked if she believed O’Connor’s apology at the end of the healing circle was an admission of criminal guilt, Belleau said no. “I cannot comment on his sincerity. But the apology to me meant a lot because it came from him personally. The important thing for me and my people is to move beyond the constant pain and to become stronger.”
Marilyn Belleau said she was pleased as well with the apology by Wiesner, who is also vice-president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. During the healing circle, Wiesner said: “As a Catholic bishop I am ashamed of the violations that were actually committed by Catholic people in a school that taught Catholic values and beliefs…We find wisdom in aboriginal spiritual traditions for restorative justice and reconciliation.”
Quantz said O’Connor has never admitted he committed a criminal offence. Still, Quantz said, there were four main reasons for considering O’Connor’s case “unique” and winding down the prosecution against him:
– Marilyn Belleau, other complainants and the native community supported the healing circle.
– Marilyn Belleau and O’Connor would face a second appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada and possibly a third criminal trial.
– O’Connor has already served six months in jail, which is almost as much time he would end up in prison before being eligible for parole.
– The circle provides the possibility of healing between individuals, and between B.C.’s natives and the Catholic Church.
Quantz also acknowledged that it would be hard to get a conviction on the final charge involving Marilyn Belleau, which the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled this March could go to a new trial. "The more often you go back to trial the more difficult it is to get a conviction," Quantz said in an interview."
The court of appeal, in overturning a 1996 conviction of O’Connor, had tossed out the argument that O’Connor was guilty of sex abuse because he was in a position of authority over the women. Now, Quantz said, the Crown would have to prove there was a lack of consent on the part of the complainant.
Both Quantz and Charlene Belleau said the decision to drop the criminal pursuit of O’Connor does not mean that the B.C. justice system should begin to go easy on religious officials accused of abusing native students in the defunct residential school system, which was financed by the federal government and run by Catholic, United, Anglican and Presbyterian churches.
Two other Catholic clergy, Glen Doughty and Harold McIntee, were convicted in the early 1990s of abusing dozens of native boys at St. Joseph’s residential school, where O’Connor was principal in the 1960s. In addition, two staff members at B.C. residential schools run by the United Church and Anglican churches have been convicted of abusing their young native charges.
THE BISHOP’S APOLOGY
Apology to natives by Bishop Hubert O'Connor at healing circle:
“Thank you for what you have said. I have listened and heard. I only wish that we had had this opportunity eight years ago. I have had a very difficult time and I believe this process will start the necessary healing.
“I am so sorry. I want to apologize for my breach as a priest and my unacceptable behavior, which was totally wrong.
“I took a vow of chastity and I broke it. I apologize for the harm I have done. I have and will continue to do my penance until I die, both in the community and before God.
“I have come here today to apologize for the harm I have done in the hopes that there will be a healing of the rifts between our communities, not because I have to, but because I want to. Our views of the case may be different, but I know that it is time to bring us together and to heal. You have spoken about your anger and your sorrow and I respect what you have said. It is a very important step for both of us and our communities to help start healing. I now realize there were incidents and events that occurred at the residential schools that were wrong.
“But it was not all bad. Please remember the good things as well: the pipe band, the academic education, the good work of many of the priests and nuns. Do not condemn them because of the conduct of myself and others.
“I trust that the meeting today will be a step forward in healing between the complainants and myself.”
CHURCH LEADER BACKS O’CONNOR
Victoria Catholic Bishop Remi De Roo says the disgraced Williams Lake bishop remains innocent of sex crimes, and disputes the need for a third trial
March 27, 1998
Douglas Todd – Sun Religion Reporter
One of Canada’s senior Catholic leaders says he’s never been convinced that Bishop Hubert O’Connor has ever been guilty of a crime. Victoria Bishop Remi De Roo, well-known for his outspoken views on social and economic justice, said he has stood by O’Connor ever since the former principal was charged with sex crimes against six students in 1991.
O’Connor has never expressed remorse to native people — even though he has admitted he broke his celibacy vow and had sex with two native students when he was principal of a residential school near Williams Lake in the 1960s.
“I personally cannot see how what he had done was, strictly speaking, a criminal offence,” De Roo said Thursday.
His response is in contrast to Vancouver Archbishop Adam Exner, who two years ago accepted the court’s conviction of O’Connor and formally apologized for O’Connor’s actions.
De Roo, calling O’Connor by his nickname, “Hub,” said O’Connor has “admitted his weakness from the moral point of view. But going from there to wanting to lay a sentence on him, I think, is a mistake.
“The B.C. Court of Appeal on Tuesday overturned two 1996 sex convictions against O’Connor. The three judges acquitted him of one count of indecent assault of a teenage girl and ordered a new trial (which would be O’Connor’s third) on one count of rape.
Although De Roo said he’s not an expert on the legal machinations of O’Connor’s case, he believes that the appeal court’s decision shows that O’Connor has not yet had a fair trial and must be considered innocent until proven guilty.
O’Connor, who admitted to fathering a baby with one of the former students, is believed to be the highest Catholic official in the world ever convicted of a sex crime. His case has drawn international negative attention to the Catholic church and has been a focal point for natives claiming residential schools were a form of cultural genocide.
De Roo says O’Connor is a broken man emotionally, physically and financially — “although he seems more at peace now than he was initially when the full impact [of the charges] hit him.”
However, University of B.C. professor Jean Barman, who has an essay on O’Connor in the current issue of B.C. Studies journal, is disturbed by an earlier parole hearing report that said O’Connor holds his native “victims in contempt.” Noting that O’Connor has told judges he was “seduced” by the then-teenage native women, Barman says O’Connor’s attitude perpetuates an old stereotype that native females are “free game” for sex.
De Roo, however, suggests another motive for O’Connor’s anger toward the complainants. “He’s been overwhelmed by the bitterness and the slander, particularly the misrepresentation of what actually happened. It’s really saddened him deeply.”
The former bishop of Prince George lives in an Oblate residence near Duncan, on Vancouver Island, where De Roo says he reads, prays and does household repairs for neighbours and friends.
Barman charges that O’Connor’s ability to drum up the money to launch a costly legal defence of the charges against him reveals the stark imbalance of power that has long existed between the once-revered bishop and his victims.
But De Roo, 73 — who speaks eight languages, has five honorary university degrees and has frequently supported native land claim causes — makes no apologies for O’Connor’s Catholic supporters putting up the money to hire top lawyer Chris Considine to defend him for seven years, including taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“If you and I believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty, don’t we have a responsibility to help them to maintain their innocence if they are convinced that is so?,” De Roo said. “It would be rather sad if that is turned against us as favoritism.
“While De Roo readily admits the churches colluded with the federal government to treat natives unequally through the residential-school system, he believes widespread sex-abuse investigations have led to the public maligning everyone who ever worked in the institutions.
“Having given their lives to the cause of education, and worked under extremely difficult circumstances, they are now told they have betrayed [Indians]. How would you feel if you had taught all your life and then your students turned against you, and said you destroyed them?”
De Roo, who has been Victoria bishop for more than 35 years, says he’s taken a lot of criticism for standing up for O’Connor. “But that’s part of life. We don’t live by criticism. We live by trying to do the truth, and do what is right.”
Bishop beats sex charge: But appeal court orders new trial on rape count
The Province (Vancouver, BC)
25 March 1998
Andy Ivens, Staff Reporter
The B.C. Court of Appeal yesterday acquitted retired Roman Catholic bishop Hubert Patrick O’Connor of indecently assaulting a teenage girl more than 30 years ago.
B.C.’s top court also set aside his conviction for raping a woman in 1967 and ordered a new trial.
If the Crown decides to try the matter again, it would be the third trial for O’Connor. His first, in 1992, ended in a mistrial when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled the Crown had failed to disclose relevant evidence. His second trial, in 1996, resulted in convictions on two of four counts, both of which were set aside yesterday.
O’Connor, now 70, served six months of his 21/2-year sentence before he was granted bail a year ago.
O’Connor was principal of St. Joseph’s Residential School near Williams Lake from the spring of 1962 until August 1967. He became bishop of Prince George in 1971.
Two complainants, MAJ and RMD, were students at the school and lived in residence there.
MAJ, who worked in the school office, had a lengthy relationship with O’Connor and became pregnant in 1967. Their child was put up for adoption and died in a car accident in 1990 at age 23.
At the 1996 trial, MAJ, now 51, said the first time she had sex with O’Connor was during the 1965 Christmas holidays. She was 19.
She said she did not want to have sex, but feared O’Connor would fire her from her office job and kick her off the pipe band if she didn’t.
O’Connor admitted he fathered MAJ’s child, but said the first time they had sex was on a trip to Prince George with the pipe band in 1966, when the complainant seduced him in his hotel room.
He swore the sex, the first time and during their two-year relationship, was consensual.
The judges said the central issue to be decided was what role the exercise of authority played in determining the consent.
“As there was evidence which could form the basis for a finding that the complainant did not consent to intercourse with the appellant, there must be a new trial,” they wrote.
In acquitting O’Connor of indecent assault, the court found the complainant unbelievable.
RMD said the events she alleged took place in the winter of 1967. The trial judge accepted O’Connor’s evidence that he left the school and Williams Lake in August of that year.
“In accepting the evidence of the appellant, the trial judge ought to have acquitted him,” wrote Chief Justice Allan McEachern, Justice Jo-Ann Prowse and Justice Catherine Ryan.
Defence counsel Chris Considine said he hopes the parties can decide on a healing process that would avoid a third trial.
Considine said O’Connor suffers from a “serious” heart condition.
Bishop Wants Out of Jail
The Province (Vancouver)
04 December 1996
Convicted rapist Hubert Patrick O’Connor wants out early.
Sentenced Sept. 13 to 21/2 years in jail for the sexual assault of two young women in his care at a residential school, the Roman Catholic bishop has been doing time in Matsqui federal prison.
On Friday, his lawyer, Dan McDonagh, will ask three B.C. Court of Appeal judges to release O’Connor, 68, from jail until the appeals of his conviction and sentence can be heard.
“We’ll be seeking his release until the two appeals can be heard – – he’s not a flight risk, it’s not an issue whether he will show up for trial, and the only matter to be decided is whether it’s necessary in the public interest to keep him in jail,” McDonagh said yesterday.
He added that his legal team is not yet ready to argue either appeal.
High-court shocker: Victims’ records bared to accused rapists
The Province (Vancouver)
15 December 1995
A ruling that allows a woman’s personal records to be used in court has outraged people who work with sex-assault victims.
The ruling means anyone accused of sex crimes has the right to obtain information, including a victim’s therapy notes, if they are relevant.
“It’s shocking,” said Lee Lakeman of the Canadian Association of Sex Assault Centres in Vancouver. “What it will do is put the justice system in even more of a situation of having a bad reputation with women.”
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled that former Roman Catholic bishop Hubert Patrick O’Connor, 67, be retried on sex charges.
He was charged in 1991 with indecently assaulting two students and raping two workers at St. Joseph’s school near Williams Lake between 1963 and 1967. He was the principal.
The charges were stayed in 1992 when a judge ruled Crown counsel had failed to disclose therapist’s notes on the complainants to the defence.
Lakeman said guidelines in the ruling clarifying when a woman’s records should be produced and used offer little hope that women’s rights will be protected. But she believes the ruling won’t stop complainants.
“Women are coming forward in spite of the odds and they are coming forward expecting and demanding justice.
“They are not getting it. But no one should think that this mistreatment of women will make us back off.”
Lawyer Megan Ellis, who has represented many sex assault victims, disagrees.
“This is a big issue for potential complainants and if (the Supreme Court) doesn’t think this is going to dissuade some of the complainants, I think that’s a mistake.”
Ellis said it is almost impossible for therapy notes to be revealed in court without comments being taken out of context.
Said therapist Maureen McEvoy: “People are unwilling to talk and to write in journals out of fear that it will be taken out of context and used against them.”
But top defence lawyer Ian Donaldson says the ruling should be welcomed.
“At the end of the day the search for truth is enhanced by the production of all relevant material.”
What it Means
The four complainants in the case against former bishop Hubert O’Connor are thrilled with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision to order a retrial.
“They have a sense of relief that their waiting is over and they will have their day in court,” said Charlene Belleau, a liaison between the complainants and the courts. “That’s all they ever wanted.”
Belleau said the complainants have faith in the justice system to protect their rights if medical records are ordered to be disclosed.
In ordering a new trial for O’Connor, and approving disclosure of relevant records, the Supreme Court of Canada said:
* It’s up to the accused to satisfy a judge that the information is “likely to be relevant.”
* Notice must be given to third parties whose privacy might be invaded if records are disclosed.
* Among factors to be considered by the trial judge in ordering disclosure are necessity, privacy and whether disclosure will prejudice the complainant’s dignity or security.
New trial ordered for Bishop
31 March 1994
VANCOUVER – Hubert Patrick O’Connor, a former Roman Catholic bishop whose first trial on four sex-related offences was aborted, faces a new trial.
Five judges of the B.C. Court of Appeal, in a unanimous decision Wednesday, set aside an earlier stay of proceedings.
But O’Connor’s lawyer, Chris Considine, said his client has instructed him to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The judicial stay, on the fourth day of O’Connor’s trial in 1992, was entered because the Crown failed to disclose all relevant information to the defence.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allan Thackray, who criticized the Crown for not making a full and timely disclosure, said the integrity of the court would be tarnished if the trial continued.
The stay, which Thackray conceded would not be universally popular, was viewed by the appeal court as a matter that pitted an accused’s legal rights against the privacy rights of complainants.
Five judges Justices Martin Taylor, Josiah Wood, Harold Hollinrake, Anne Rowles and Jo-Ann Prowse heard the appeal, instead of the customary three.
The court also granted intervenor status to four women’s organizations and a mental health group.
The appeal court, upholding submissions by special Crown counsel Malcolm Macaulay, said no “permanent or irremedial damage” was done to O’Connor’s defence as a result of non-disclosure.
O’Connor, now 64, resigned as the bishop of Prince George in 1991 when he was charged with two counts of rape and two of indecent assault.
The alleged offences, involving four complainants, occurred in the 1960s when O’Connor was principal of an Indian residential school near Williams Lake.
The Vancouver Sun
16 September 1993
Since the prosecution conceded its conduct “disadvantaged” the defence in the trial of a Roman Catholic bishop, why is the Crown now appealing the decision to stay the sex-related charges?
That blunt question kept emerging in comments from the bench Wednesday as the B.C. Court of Appeal began hearing the Crown’s appeal in the matter of Bishop Hubert Patrick O’Connor.
O’Connor’s trial was aborted last Dec. 7 when a judge stayed the charges because the Crown failed to comply with rules, endorsed by the Supreme Court of Canada, requiring prosecutors to disclose all relevant information to the defence.
O’Connor, 64, was charged with committing sexual offences against four women at a school near Williams Lake between 1964 and 1967.
A panel of five appeal judges, three men and two women, kept peppering special Crown counsel Malcolm Macaulay with sharp questions concerning the conduct of the prosecutors in the trial.
The appeal judges pointed out that not only did the Crown fail to comply with the disclosure rules, but one of the prosecutors, Wendy Harvey, failed to show up in court on the last day to explain her conduct.
Justice Josiah Wood asked why the appeal court should now hear the Crown’s explanation for non-disclosure when the prosecutors were given ample opportunity to explain at trial.
Noting Harvey, to this day, hasn’t explained her absence, Wood said: “We are now dancing around with statements that add an aura of mystery to the matter.”
Wood suggested the trial judge’s characterization of the Crown’s conduct as “unusual” was an accurate characterization in the circumstances.
Justice Jo-Anne Prowse, recalling Harvey’s co-counsel, David Jones, conceded the defence had been “disadvantaged,” said a transcript indicates the outcome had “very much the sense of the Crown throwing up its hands and giving up, conceding.”
When Macaulay agreed Jones’s comment did amount to a concession, Prowse said: “It gives an appearance of the Crown almost inviting the court to stay the case — based on its own acknowledged nondisclosure.”
Macaulay told the appeal panel the Crown is appealing the stay on four main grounds:
lThat a judge who initially ordered the Crown to disclose details of the complainants’ medical and psychological records went too far and acted without jurisdiction.
lThat the trial judge erred in concluding the Crown had not complied with court orders to disclose all relevant information to the defence, “relevant” being the key consideration.
lThat the trial judge erred in saying a substantial prejudice flowed to O’Connor because of the non-disclosure.
lThat the trial judge erred in not considering alternatives to a stay of proceedings.
The hearing began with Wood saying it is important to determine exactly why the trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allan Thackray, decided the non-disclosure should result in a stay.
Wood asked if the stay was entered because Thackray decided the bishop’s Charter rights to fundamental justice were denied, or because the non-disclosure amounted to an abuse of process.
The judge said the distinction could be very important to the outcome of the appeal.
Macaulay’s answer caused Wood to suggest the Crown was attempting to have it both ways, saying in the first instance the stay was entered because of abuse of process and then that it was due to a Charter violation.
Wood said Thackray, in his reasons for judgment, made no mention of the Charter. The trial judge only mentioned “the integrity of the court” in terms of abuse of process.
Wood, noting one of the appeal grounds is that Thackray failed to consider other alternatives, reminded Macaulay a judge has no alternative to a stay if he decides the court process has been abused.
Macaulay suggested the Crown’s position will become apparent if he is permitted to introduce new evidence in the form of affidavits setting out the steps the Crown took in respect to disclosure.
He said he wants to enter evidence in the form of affidavits from Jones and Harvey, as well as from Ernie Quantz, a senior official in the criminal justice section of the attorney-general’s office.
Wood suggested everything in the proposed affidavits could have been given to the trial judge.
Macaulay, urging the court to admit the new evidence, said it would be a “monumental injustice” to deny the Crown the opportunity to explain its conduct in respect to disclosure.
Macaulay said the Crown, with hindsight, may have adopted a dif ferent approach at trial.
He said the law of disclosure was evolving at the time and the prosecutors’ submissions, in the hurly-burly of a trial, may not have been adequate.
The appeal hearing — Wood and Prowse are sitting with Justices Martin Taylor, Anne Rowles and Harold Hollinrake — continues in Vancouver.
Questions still remain on how Crown blew case
The Vancouver Sun
12 December 1992
“Information ought not to be withheld if there is a reasonable possibility that the withholding of information will impair the right of the accused to make a full answer and defence.”
– The Supreme Court of Canada,
ruling on disclosure
LACK OF communication was one explanation. Incompetence was another. Both had to do with the Crown’s conduct of the case known as Regina versus Hubert Patrick O’Connor, which ended this week with the former Bishop of Prince George walking away from sex charges involving young native women.
The first explanation came from co-prosecutor Wendy Harvey, as she answered a judge’s suggestion that she was following a private agenda in her conduct of the case.
The second – the allegation of incompetence – came from the same judge.
The issue was disclosure – the obligation of the Crown in criminal cases to provide the defence with all relevant material in its possession.
In the O’Connor case, despite a court order and repeated urging from the bench, the prosecution failed to provide defence counsel Chris Considine with material he requested.
And finally the trial judge had had enough.
Justice Alan Thackray stayed the charges and O’Connor walked.
That much is clear about the high-profile case, the outcome of which has sparked puzzlement in legal circles, concern in the church and outrage in the native Indian community.
But even those who were in Courtroom 53 at the Vancouver Law Courts have difficulty explaining how the Crown blew it.
The case began in February 1991 with a phone call to Considine from a high-ranking official of the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop O’Connor had been charged with four sex-related offences and wanted to retain Considine as his defence counsel.
The charges concerned allegations O’Connor, as a young priest in the 1960s at a native Indian residential school near Williams Lake, raped two women staff members and indecently assaulted two female students.
After being retained by O’Connor, Considine routinely approached Williams Lake Crown counsel Greg Jones for full particulars of the Crown’s case. The prosecutor provided Considine with copies of police reports and witness statements. So far, so good. The case was on track.
But not for long.
Since he was dealing with incidents that occurred almost three decades ago, Considine was disadvantaged from the outset. Potential witnesses were dead, records had been lost or destroyed, memories had faded. Reasoning that full disclosure was therefore vital to the defence, Considine began by asking for the files of any mental health care professionals who had treated the complainants.
When the Crown balked, he went to B.C. Supreme Court for a disclosure order. Associate Chief Justice David Campbell, in an order issued June 4, 1992, said he was satisfied the fairness of the trial process required disclosure. He ordered the Crown to provide Considine with the files of all therapists, counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists who treated any of the complainants with respect to allegations of sexual assault. He also ordered the Crown to provide the defence with all school and employment records of the complainants.
Thackray said subsequent evidence indicated Harvey, who had been appointed to share the prosecution duties, was dissatisfied with Campbell’s ruling and wanted it reviewed. Jones appeared before Justice Richard Low on July 10, 1992 and told him the Crown wished to raise matters of public policy with respect to Campbell’s order.
Low, reasoning that such issues should be raised before the judge who would try the case, urged Campbell to appoint a trial judge. Thackray was assigned late in September to try the case.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 21, 1992, Jones and Considine appeared before Justice Wallace Oppal to discuss venue. During that hearing, Oppal expressed surprise that Campbell’s order had not been complied with. Oppal said he would have expected that the Crown, above anyone else, would comply with such an order.
Following a series of motions in which the defence sought a stay of proceedings on other issues, Considine asked on Nov. 26, 1992, for a stay of proceedings based specifically on the Crown’s failure to make full disclosure.
Harvey, although she had not asked the court for an order editing the medical records, told the court the failure to provide the records was not part of an “evil design,” but was caused by a lack of communication between herself and Jones.
Similarly, when Considine complained that he had not received transcripts of Harvey’s interviews with the complainants, Harvey said she could not explain the oversight, but speculated that perhaps she dreamed they had been sent to the defence.
When Thackray learned that Harvey had chosen not to comply with Campbell’s order, he said: “Ms. Harvey is incapable of distinguishing between her personal objectives and her professional responsibilities.”
He added: “Ms. Harvey’s defence of her position was that the order of Campbell was socially unacceptable and unworkable. Further, that she was working toward returning to court for more directions.”
Noting he dismissed Considine’s Nov. 26 application for a stay, Thackray recalled: “In giving judgment, I did not deal lightly with Ms. Harvey’s failure to disclose documents. I found her limiting of the order of the Associate Chief Justice to be inappropriate. I found that there was incompetence by the Crown in the matter of disclosure.”
But when Considine again raised the matter of non-disclosure Dec. 7, after the trial had begun, Thackray said he had no alternative but to stay the proceedings.
The judge noted one of the complainants, before taking the witness stand, provided Harvey with drawings depicting the room in which a sexual assault allegedly occurred. The drawings contained notes of what the complainant said occurred.
Recalling Considine said the notes represented yet another version of the incident, Thackray noted Considine said the drawings and notes should have been disclosed well before the trial opened.
Noting Considine contended the notes might have caused him to prepare a different cross-examination, Thackray said: “Good cross-examination does not just happen. It is, in spite of what might appear from courtroom television dramas, a product of meticulous effort on the part of counsel.”
Referring to Campbell’s original disclosure order, Thackray said: “If that order had been obeyed, as it should have been, this case may never have come to this point.”
Lawyers familiar with the conduct of criminal cases in B.C. say the situation was baffling because the provincial Crown has for the past 10 years encouraged full disclosure. They say the disclosure policy in B.C. was set long before the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on the issue.
Justice John Sopinka, who wrote the top court’s disclosure ruling, said in his reasons: “I am confident that disputes over disclosure will arise infrequently when it is made clear that counsel for the Crown is under a general duty to disclose all relevant information.”
Special prosecutor appointed to consider appeal
The Vancouver Sun
02 December 1992
VICTORIA – The case against Bishop Hubert Patrick O’Connor is not closed, Attorney-General Colin Gabelmann vowed Tuesday.
But he said questions regarding whether Crown counsel is to blame for a B.C. Supreme Court judge’s decision Monday to throw out four sex-related charges against O’Connor will have to wait.
Gabelmann appointed Victoria lawyer Malcolm Macaulay as special prosecutor to look into a possible appeal after Justice Allan Thackray entered a judicial stay of proceedings against O’Connor. The stay was entered because Crown counsel failed to disclose all relevant information to the defence.
The bishop was charged with four counts of sexual offences based on incidents alleged to have taken place at a Williams Lake residential school in the 1960s. “Clearly, the issue isn’t dead. . . The first task is to see if we can get back into court,” Gabelmann said.
The Crown has 30 days to appeal.
He refused to comment on the conduct of Crown counsel, arguing that any comment could “be read in a way that might impair our ability to pursue our course of action.”
He agreed the public deserves an answer regarding what went wrong.
But, “I can’t do that concurrently while dealing with the appeal. The public will get its answers, the people involved will be dealt with as sensitively and in the most appropriate way we can. At this point the most appropriate way we can deal with that is to see whether we can file an appeal and to be successful with that appeal and to have the trial resume.”
Social Credit leader Jack Weisgerber asked Gabelmann in the House for an apology for the victims, saying the failed case “further undermined the already tenuous confidence that the native community has in the justice system.”
Gabelmann said he could not respond to such questions during the Macaulay investigation, although he agreed steps need to be taken to develop some confidence in the system.
Liberal House Leader Judi Tyabji said Gabelmann should have acted last June, when problems were first raised about Crown counsel’s failure to disclose details of their case to the defence.
“He didn’t take any preventative action. . . A reaction just isn’t good enough,” she said.
Native leaders from the Cariboo were shocked and angered by Justice Thackray’s decision to stay proceedings against the former bishop.
“This is a great disappointment but it’s not going to be the end of it, that’s for sure,” Bev Sellars, chief of the Soda Creek Band said.
“A lot of people’s lives have been screwed up because of this residential school and we are not going to let it die.”
Sellars speaks for the Cariboo Tribal Council’s on issues related to the St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake where O’Connor was principal.
Charlene Belleau, social development adviser for the Cariboo Tribal Council, said the court’s decision was traumatic “not only to the complainants but also to our leadership.”
“As native people, we’ve come through a system where in our view it appears there is no justice.
She also said the church has a moral obligation to address the case.
BISHOP WALKS FREE: Angry judge throws out sex charges, blames prosecutors
The Province (Vancouver)
08 December 1992
A Roman Catholic bishop walked out of court a free man yesterday after a judge ruled that prosecutors had botched the criminal sex charges against him.
The case against Hubert Patrick O’Connor, formerly bishop of Prince George, stumbled to a halt in a Vancouver courtroom when B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allan Thackray ruled that prosecutors had refused an order to disclose parts of their case to the defence.
O’Connor, 63, faced two counts of rape and two of indecent assault dating back to the 1960s when he was principal of St. Joseph’s residential school in Williams Lake.
He left court without speaking and sped off by car from an underground parking lot.
Wendy Harvey, the prosecutor who drew the judge’s ire, refused comment as well. But her bosses in the B.C. attorney-general’s ministry said the case would be reviewed.
And native officials said they wouldn’t rest until the four female complainants were heard in court.
O’Connor sex trial halted for ruling
The Province (Vancouver)
06 December 1992
A B.C. Supreme Court judge is to rule tomorrow whether sex charges against a former Roman Catholic bishop should be thrown out.
The trial of Hubert Patrick O’Connor, 63, was halted Friday when defence lawyer Chris Considine protested that he had not been informed of some evidence entered by the prosecution.
“The Crown has a duty to disclose all the material which might be relevant and helpful to the accused,” Considine told Justice Allan Thackray. “It’s only when I find a specific item that it will come to light.
“I can’t have confidence, nor can the court . . . that there is proper disclosure in this case.”
O’Connor is the highest-ranking Canadian Catholic official to face sex charges – two of sexual assault and two of indecent assault.
The charges date back to when he was principal of St. Joseph’s missionary school near Williams Lake in the 1960s.
Thackray, who denied several similar defence motions prior to the trial, will give lawyers the weekend to iron out their differences before making his ruling.
“This is a very serious matter,” he said. “It’s of great significance to the accused.”
Woman tells court of rape
The Province (Vancouver)
04 December 1992
A Victoria woman fought back tears yesterday as she told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that a former Roman Catholic bishop raped her almost 20 years ago.
Hubert Patrick O’Connor, 63, is charged with two counts of sexual assault and two of indecent assault dating back to the 1960s when he was principal of St. Joseph’s missionary school near Williams Lake.
“He asked me to come into his room, which I did,” testified the woman, now 50. “He asked me to remove my clothes. I felt I didn’t have any choice (but) to do what he wanted. He told me to lie down. Then he . . . he raped me. I was still a virgin.”
O’Connor, who resigned as Prince George diocese’s bishop when charges were laid, is the highest-ranking Canadian Catholic official to face sex charges.
“I remember feeling so scared,” said the married mother of three, who often paused for several minutes before answering questions. “Father O’Connor looked so big. I remember thoughts going in my head: ‘He’s a priest.’
“I felt him on top of me. He was heavy. After it was all over he got up and went to take a shower.”
The woman, who worked at the school as a seamstress, often paused before answering prosecutor Wendy Harvey.
Justice Allan Thackray allowed her to hold a peace pipe while she swore on the Bible and permitted her therapist to sit next to her.
She said she rejected O’Connor’s first advances to her at a drive- in movie. “Part way through the movie he reached over and pulled me towards him and tried to kiss me, which took me by surprise because he was a priest and I was thinking to myself, priests aren’t supposed to do this.”
The trial continues.
Ex-bishop loses in sex-case bid
The Province (Vancouver)
10 November 1992
A former Roman Catholic bishop has lost in a bid to quash one of four sex charges against him.
Hubert Patrick O’Connor, 62, is charged with indecently assaulting four females while he was principal of St. Joseph’s residential school near Williams Lake in the 1960s.
His lawyer went to B.C. Supreme Court seeking to have one of the charges thrown out for lack of evidence, but Justice Allan Thackray pointed totestimony from O’Connor’s preliminary hearing.
“There is evidence that might be characterized as indecent assault,” he ruled.
The question of whether O’Connor assaulted one female indecently should be decided by a trial, he said.
“At the trial such evidence may create a reasonable doubt, but that will be part of theprocess of weighing all of theevidence,” he said in writtenreasons released yesterday.
O’Connor, who was the highest-ranking Catholic official in Canada to be charged with sex offences until he resigned as head of the Prince George diocese last year, is to go on trial in Vancouver Nov. 30.
Pope accepts resignation of accused Catholic bishop
09 July 1991
VICTORIA (CP) – A Catholic bishop facing trial on four sex- related offences has handed in his resignation to Pope John Paul II, the church has announced.
Hubert Patrick O’Connor’s resignation has been accepted by the Pope, Victoria Bishop Remi de Roo said yesterday in a news release.
De Roo declined to comment on the charges, which include gross indecency and sexual assault, but said they did not involve children.
The crown alleges the incidents occurred between July, 1964, and July, 1967, when O’Connor was principal of the St. Joseph’s native residential school in Williams Lake, 330 kilometres (205 miles) northeast of Vancouver.
Following a three-day preliminary hearing that ended July 5, O’Connor, 62, elected trial by judge and jury. A date for his British Columbia Supreme Court appearance will be set Sept. 3.
He is the third Catholic official at the school to be charged with sex offences. The school closed in the early 1980s.
Bishop to be tried for sexual assault
The Vancouver Sun
06 July 1991
WILLIAMS LAKE – A Roman Catholic bishop will stand trial on four sex-related charges, a judge ruled Friday at the end of a three-day preliminary hearing.
The charges against Bishop Hubert Patrick O’Connor, now the spiritual head of the diocese of Prince George, include gross indecency and sexual assault.
The Crown alleges the incidents occurred between July 1964 and July 1967 when O’Connor, 62, was principal at St. Joseph’s native residential school in Williams Lake, north of Vancouver.
O’Connor elected trial by judge and jury. A date for his B.C. Supreme Court trial will be set Sept. 3.
He is the third Catholic official at the school, which closed in the early 1980s, to face sex-related charges.
An Oblate brother pleaded guilty in April to four counts of gross indecency, while another priest pleaded guilty to 17 counts of sexual abuse.
Catholic bishop charged with sexual offences
The Vancouver Sun
05 February 1991
Hubert Patrick O’Connor, the Roman Catholic bishop of Prince George, was charged Monday with six sexual offences allegedly committed while he was principal of St. Joseph’s residential school in Williams Lake in the mid-1960s.
The charges include two of sexual intercourse without consent, three of indecent assault and one of gross indecency. The charges were laid under the old Criminal Code, which was in force at the time of the alleged offences.
All of the alleged victims were over the age of 18 at the time the incidents are said to have occurred.
O’Connor, 62, the highest-ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual offences in Canada, maintains his innocence, his lawyer Chris Considine said.
“He intends to fight the charges. He will be pleading not guilty.”
O’Connor is to make his first appearance in provincial court in Williams Lake on Feb. 19.
The assaults are alleged to have occurred between July 1964 and July 1967, when O’Connor was a priest and principal of St. Joseph Mission, a residential school for natives.
O’Connor is the third person to face sex-related charges related to incidents at the school.
Brother Glen Doughty, a dormitory supervisor at the school, has been charged with indecently assaulting four children there. He faces trial later this month.
Rev. Harry McIntee pleaded guilty earlier to 17 counts of sexual abuse and was sentenced to two years in jail. He is now out on parole.
O’Connor was born in Huntington, Que. A member of the Oblate order, he was ordained a priest in 1955 and was sent to Western Canada in 1961, where he became principal of the mission school. He was appointed bishop of Whitehorse in 1971, and became bishop of Prince George in 1986.