O’Dell: Father Thomas O’Dell

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Father Thomas O’Dell

priest Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,  Ordained 1973. 1992 – GUILTY plea to charges related to sex abuse of young boys. 2000:  The sex abuse included sodomy:  one boy was sodomozed one boy with a crucifix. Sentenced to 6 mos in prison and two years probation.


15 September 2003:  John Doe v O’Dell


19 October 2012: Defrock bad priests: Sex abuse victims


Bishops of Sault Ste. Marie Diocese since Father Donald Holmes’ ordination : Alexander Carter  (22 November 1958 – 03 May 1985); Marcel André J. Gervais (03 May 1985 –  13 May 1989  when appointed, Coadjutor Archbishop of Ottawa, Ontario) ; Jean-Louis Plouffe (02 December 1989  –  )

Auxiliary bishops: Roger-Alfred Despatie (20 May 1968 – 8 February 1973); Gérard Dionne ( 29 January 1975 – 23 November 1983);  Bernard Francis Pappin (29 January 1975 – 27 Aug 1998);  Marcel André J. Gervais (03 May 1985 – 13 May 1989); Jean-Louis Plouffe (12 Dec 1986 – Bishop 2 Dec 1989);  Paul-André Durocher ( 20 January 1997 – 27 April 2002); Robert Harris 26 October 2002 – 8 May 2007); Brian Joseph Dunn (16 July 2008 – 21 Nov 2009).


The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD), media (M) and the 1980 Ontario Catholic Directory (OCD) and legal documents (L)

2011, 2010, 2002:  adress and phone number for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie diocesan centre

02 October 2000:  CONVICTED of indecent assault and gross indecency.  Sentenced to 30 months in custody.  An appeal was denied. (L)

02 June 2000: second criminal trial.

1996, 1998:  112 Brookfield Ave., Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.   705-254-6768

1992GUILTY plea to charges three separate offences against three teenage boys.  Other charges withdrawn after he pled guilty.  Sentenced to 6 months in prison and two years probation.

May 1990:  allegations sex abuse involving two brothers dating to the 80s.  Removed from St. Pius X – Bishop refused to tell parishioners why.  It was later learned that O’Dell had been sent to “treament” centre in New Mexico – the Servants of the Paraclete..

pre charges:  St. Pius X RC Church in Lively, Ontario (M)

1980-1983:  St. Basil’s RC Church, White River, Ontario (M)

1980:  O’Dell and Father B.J. McKee at St. Stanislaus RC Church in Copper Cliff, Ontario (OCD)

08 June 1973:  Ordained (CCCD)

1969:  St. Augustine’s Seminary.  (Father John O’Mara was Rector of the seminary from 1969 to 1977) (L)

attended St. Augustine’s College in Scarborough – received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (L)


Court awards $1.4 million damages in Soo sex abuse case.(Canada)

Catholic New Times

November 02, 2003

Cavalluzzo, Jean Smith

A decision by Justice Katherine Swinton of the Ontario Superior Court in the case of John Doe v. Thomas O’Dell and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation for the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, awarded $1.4 million in damages to a 33-year-old man for past and future lost income because he was sexually abused by Father O’Dell.

The legal newspaper Law Times quoted the plaintiff’s lawyer, who described the damages as the larges, award concerning sexual abuse against a church in Canada.

The Court held that the diocese is vicariously responsible for sexual abuse committed by its priests. The case is important legally from the standpoint of the size of the damages and the legal analysis of vicarious liability in a case involving sexual abuse by a priest in Canada.

The Court heard that John Doe (a pseudonym to protect the victim’s identity) had a happy family life until the end of Grade 5 when he met Fr. O’Dell, who was ordained in the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie in 1973. Doe testified that O’Dell became a friend and spiritual mentor while he was in Grades 7 and 8.

Justice Swinton noted that O’Dell admitted to three sexual assaults which occurred during Doe’s Grade 7 to 9 years: O’Dell sodomized Doe with a wooden crucifix in 1983; removed Doe’s clothing and placed him naked on the church altar, then forced Doe to have oral sex; and O’Dell performed anal intercourse on Doe.

As a result of this abuse, Doe suffered from flashbacks, an inability to concentrate in school, difficulties in relationships and alcohol abuse. He became withdrawn and his family relationships suffered. He was unable to find employment and attempted suicide.

The church’s defence was that O’Dell was not an “employee” of the diocese because the church does not pay priests a “salary.” Therefore, there is no “employee-employer” relationship.

Secondly, the Church argued that O’Dell’s acts were clearly unauthorized, secret and committed against an individual who was no, a parish member. The church had argued that since O’Dell’s acts were antithetical to the beliefs of the Catholic Church and priestly vows and the Church had no reason to believe it was increasing anyone’s risk of harm by having O’Dell work in the community.

The significance of the case was highlighted in an accompanying editorial in the Law Times.

“The church can’t distance itself from the abusers who work within its ranks. It is responsible for the acts of its pries, good or bad.”

Jean Smith Cavalluzzo is a freelance writer in Toronto.


Bishop: Sex abuse still denied

Toronto Sun



The bishop for a Northern Ontario diocese admitted yesterday the diocese still denied Father Thomas O’Dell had sexually abused boys even 10 months after Ontario’s highest court upheld the priest’s convictions for sodomizing a boy with a crucifix.

And Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe testified at a civil trial his diocese never apologized to victim John Doe, now 33, or his family for the “callous and depraved” sex attacks.

“I don’t think so because I don’t think it (apology) was ever asked of me,” Plouffe told Doe’s lawyer, Peter Downard.

Plouffe, his diocese and O’Dell admitted his criminal convictions for the civil proceedings in January. The admissions came 13 months after the appeals court dismissed O’Dell’s appeal and he started serving a 30-month sentence in a Kingston penitentiary.

O’Dell was also convicted of acts of gross indecency against two brothers in the early 1980s. He admitted he attached the brothers’ genitalia to a rope- and-pulley system under the guise of “spiritual and personal growth.”

Doe — who cannot be identified because of a court order — is suing the Roman Catholic diocese and O’Dell. He’s seeking almost $4 million in damages for the sexual assaults inflicted from 1981 through 1986.

Downard accused Plouffe of “embarking on an exercise of assessing O’Dell’s credibility” after the criminal courts and Court of Appeal found him guilty.

“The law is a human institution and sometimes they fail,” replied Plouffe, who added while he “doesn’t know” if O’Dell did it he was convicted and “we accepted the verdicts.”

The defence argues the damages sought are excessive, remote and beyond the statute of limitations. The trial continues Tuesday.


Priest’s crimes hushed

Apr. 15, 2003

The Toronto Sun



The bishop for a Northern Ontario diocese admitted in court he told parishioners that a priest was taking a sabbatical when in fact the priest was at a New Mexico treatment centre for sex abusers.

Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe told a civil trial yesterday that he gave the parishioners of Rev. Thomas O’Dell’s church “no more details” in May 1990 after he learned the priest allegedly committed acts of gross indecency against two teen brothers in the early 1980s.

In 1992, O’Dell admitted committing those offences and was sentenced to six months in prison and two years probation.

The priest had attached the brothers’ genitalia to a rope- and-pulley system under the guise of “spiritual and personal growth.”


Priest faces sex charges

Windsor Star

30 April 1991

SUDBURY, Ont. (CP) – A Northern Ontario priest faces 11 charges of sexual abuse spanning 10 years, police say.

Rev. Thomas O’Dell, 44, on sabbatical from St. Pius X church in Lively, just west of Sudbury, was charged after an investigation by Sudbury Regional Police and Ontario Provincial Police in White River, 400 km northwest of Sudbury.

He faces six counts of gross indecency, two counts of indecent assault on a male and three counts of sexual assault.

The investigation resulted from two complaints, one from a 26-year-old man who says he was sexually assaulted when he was between the ages of 19 and 25.

The other complaint was from a person in White River who alleges abuse between 1980 and 1983, while O’Dell was a priest at St. Basil’s church in White River.

O’Dell has been on leave from the church in Lively since May. Parish officials refused to say why.


22 Responses to O’Dell: Father Thomas O’Dell

  1. tracy thompson says:

    I attended catholic school and father O’dell was my priest growing up and “John Doe” has ultimately died as a result of drug abuse after being awarded the money. He was never the same. I have lost faith in the catholic church and do my praying in private and still feel I have to protect my sons from being a victim to these monsters in robes. I know not all priests are like this but I distrust them all anyways. I was a friend and I’m sorry he had such a tragic outcome.

  2. Sylvia says:

    When did “John Doe” die tracy? That is such sad news.

    I wrestle with the business of these huge settlements for victims. For those who are drinking and/or on drugs it can be like handing them a loaded gun. I don’t know what the answer is but do believe it is imperative that all settlements provide provision for long-term expert counselling.

    Yes, some victims can handle the dollars, but others can not. Those who are still turning to drugs and alcohol to make the pain, shame and memories go away will often have difficulty.

    So, how to help those who are on a path of self-destruction? I just don’t know.

  3. prima facie says:

    Of course Sylvia, you know how I feel about this. This is what bothers me the most.
    I believe most of the cases end up the same way. “But For The Grace of God”.
    I have seen it over and over and over again….in most cases.

    1-for whatever reason, ie) concurrent recovery programs, recovery of a repressed memory, courage, sick and tired of being sick and tired, counselling sessions, stagnant litigations, etc., etc, etc,… a victim “speaks out”….breaking the silence; 2- they ask for help and begin to interract with caregivers and supporters. They may actually “go public”. At the same time, in many cases, family members, the accused and their surrogates and other significant people, attempt to convince or intimidate the victim into “silence”. For various reasons, they attempt to “sabotage” the recovery;
    3- in many cases, especially where “class action” type litigation appears possible, the victims are “gathered” by “front people” for lawyers and encouraged to avoid websites like Sylvia’s and other caregivers, because they are told, it may derail potential litigation. Victims start to detatch from the original people, caregivers, supporters, who they turned to for help. At the same time, some victims are praised as “heroes/leaders” and utilized through “speaking engagements/publicity” to indirectly or directly “gather” other victims to “join in”; 4-after a time period, for various reasons, victims are encouraged to settle-out-of court and that some of the money will help with counselling. There may not even be a civil litigation in process or filed. Also, victims are promised some kind of apology. The victims are trusting the “new helpers/heroes” in their lives.

    FROM a recovery perspective: In an attempt to “avoid” the “real” personal issues and “clean house” so-to-speak, many victims defocus “foe years”, by joining the “inappropriate treatment program” and becoming a “leader/mouthpiece” for the weaker/not as confident ones. This is very dangerous. However, the victims are feeling more (false) confidence because of the publicity, notoriety and attention, whether it is on a small scale or large national scale. This is also very dangerous, because this is only a “temporary fix” and the “real problems” are being buried and avoided…only to come back later…compounded.
    Also in many cases, the reality is, that the “accused” suffers limited “consequences” if any and are relocated or move away. NO consequences……Other prominent citizen’s who are accused…. or…other co-conspirators, know they will never be prosecuted and continue to promenade around town, “free as the air”. This adds to the victims frustration; 5-money is eventually received (most of the time, not much money or benefits). The victims and their families have been waiting for the money, hoping things will change….hoping; 6) up to five years after the settlement, severe family problems erupt, divorce, alcoholism/other drug addiction, deviant-criminal behaviours and the victim ( and family members/friends, etc) suffer a major life threatening event or actually die.

    This is very sad. As I see new “bloggers”……it is always with the same, systemic signs, symptoms, outcomes, etc…….just different names. When I read here, it’s just as I suspect a counsellor, psychiatrist, psychologist would feel…..a new client; the very same “story”, just a new client.

    You see, despite what the “pearheads” say and despite everyone’s desire for money, nothing has really changed; especially the, A) offence, B) the signs/symptoms and
    C) the ultimate outcomes.
    As I see it, what has really changed, are new ways to “cover-up”….I know that is a severe term, but I’m trying to keep this easy to understand and clear.

    So who is really benefiting here for the long-term. Who do the policies really protect and help? Who have the new policies, protocols, etc., been designed to protect?
    The victims? If you really look at everything,….who really benefits here for the long-run…….the offence, the signs/symptoms and the outcomes have never changed, so something is wrong here people.

  4. Shell says:

    Hi Sylvia, I was doing a search about O’Dell and came upon your site.
    The man called “John Doe” was a close friend of mine. He died on January 12, 2009. I was and still deeply shaken by his death. I know he was haunted by what that monster did to him. Still, I believed to the end, that somehow he find a way to live and move past what happened to him. Yes, the money was blood money. What he really wanted was justice. Sometimes justice comes too late and still not enough.

  5. Brendan says:

    I was part of the parish at St. Pius x in Lively. I remember as a boy Father Odell giving mass, I remember him coming around to our classes when we were at school. The teachers stopped thrier classes and Father Odell would tell a joke. I remember that we all really liked him. I am absolutely disgusted, shocked and appauled at reading these arcticles. I had heard that he had been charged with pedophilia…. but I had never know to what extent. I was just a boy myself at the time. My heart goes out to all that have been wounded, both mentally and physically. Odell did so much damage to those around him, it could never be fixed. Shame on the Catholic Church for its actions.There is no ammount of money that could ever take those memories and pain away, or fix what has been done. I am so sorry to hear that his abuse had ultimately led to the death of another. God willing we all stand trial for our sins when its all over. It is the only justice that would be fitting. Thank you for taking the time for putting this wedbite together, keep the message out there. We need to protect our young ones, they are our future.

  6. Sylvia says:

    Thank you all for sharing memories of Father O’Dell, and of the unfortunate and untimely death of one of his victims.

    A reminder here to all that Thomas O’Dell is still a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. A disgrace!

    • Ray Selbie says:

      It is indeed a disgrace that he remains a priest and as indicated in one of my previous blogs, it was a disgrace that he was ever ordained.
      I lived in the same place as the man and although his insanity was obvious to me and I tried to have him removed from the Seminary, it was I who was asked to leave for being a Jerimiah.
      Long time ago but the reprecussions of bad decisions are forever.
      Ray Selbie

  7. Sylvia says:

    All the young lives which were destroyed by this ‘man’ because no one would listen to you Ray. All the families rent asunder. And, you were the bad guy. Not O’Dell. You.

    I commend you for taking the stand you did. You can hold your head high. I know others who were given ‘the boot’ from various seminaries because they refused to ‘go along’ or turn a blind eye. By the grace of God some day they will all speak out.

    Yes, it’s true, the repercussions of bad decisions can last a life time, but, perhaps there is some small consolation for you in the fact that you were right? That’s no consolation I know to those whom O’Dell violated and betrayed, but, you were right. You tried.

    And to think that the big purge at St. Augustine’s didn’t come until 1985! God help us.

  8. Pam says:

    Tom O’Dell was my parish priest when I was in elementary school. I do not use the term ‘father’ when I refer to him. He is not worthy of that title. I believe he was never worthy. My mother and I became very close to him while he was at our parish; often helping him both in his residence and around the parish. I was never abused, but I believe that my dearest friends may have been.
    Since the time when I heard the charges on the radio, I have not been able to get him completely out of my mind. I ache for what I suspect happened to my beloved friends. I wish I could give them a hug and tell them I am so sorry that they had to experience and endure all they had. I wish I could tell them that it was not their fault. I wish that I could tell them directly that I love them. And most of all, I wish that their lives were happy and healthy and unmarred.
    I too think back to my Mother, who depended upon O’Dell for spiritual guidance throughout what was perhaps the most difficult period in her life. I am bereft, knowing that such an evil man counselled her and so many other people. She passed away in the mid 1980’s believing in him; before any of his evil actions were made public. Her spiritual leader stands convicted of performing the most heinous of crimes against young, innocent, decent, young men who simply were, believers.
    O’Dell destroyed truly good souls – and what compounds this is the Church’s response. I have grappled with this over all these years and believe that if the church had acted in good faith – if a statement of truth and acknowledgment from our Diocesan leaders was made – perhaps coping, then or now, might be a bit easier? I can only begin to imagine the victim’s response, when the church still stands by responses such as those from Bishop Plouffe.
    I desperately want to stand by the church in which I was raised – and desperately want to pass this on to my own child. However, I struggle with the pain of what O’Dell did to my friends and the church’s response. I struggle with the horrible fact that … really … he is still a priest??? Someone – anyone – within the church needs to fix this if we are ever going to be able to grow as a church, and in our faith. As the list of abusers within the church grows ever longer, someone will need to recognize that changes need to be made – and soon.

  9. Raymond Selbie says:

    I had the misfortune of being in St. Augustine’s Seminary for four years with Thomas O’Dell. He was a disgrace then and as we all know, grew in evil intent after ordination. I was forced to leave the Seminary after four years because I has exposed O”Dell and others to not only the Rector and the other staff but then Archbishop Pocock and then the Priest’s senate and then the public. O’Dell and the others that I exposed were either ordained or left of their own accord but none of them were ever removed or outed by the authorities.
    It took me many years to reconcile what I saw as a systematic protection of pedofiles, homosexuals and perverts with my belief that Christ truly loves his Church and the good people within it.
    I urge you to hold fast to your faith, I have come back to the Church with a renewed faith and belief that my actions were Spirit driven and it has taken all these past 40 plus years for this to be demonstrated to me. I now find the Church to be my strength and a blessing but warn all of us not to approach the Church with rosecoloured and innocent faith that I had as a Seminarian. Christ does love His Church and does guide the saints within it. He does however require us to be vigilent and wary of Satans power. Sylvia and many of her contributors are the faithful voice of Christ which warns the evil one and his disciples that never again, will we allow him to gain control of the Bride of Christ. As the scripture says-‘be wary, be watchful, as your adversary the devil goes about as a roaming lion seeking whom he may devour’ It is up to us, both faithful laity and clergy to be the guardians. What more profitable and noble vocation could we have than to stand, four square against Satan and his disciples who hijacked our Church. we will find all the blessings we need if we stand againt the evil one and even though we will be punished as I was 40 plus years ago, we will be happy, fulfilled and one with our Divine Saviour.

    Please take and hold fast to the faith as I firmly believe that the O’Dells and Bornes cannot prevail agaist us and Christ. God Bless you and I pray that you may be comforted and strengthened in your journey by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    Ray Selbie

    • Pam says:

      Thank you Ray. Your words have provided comfort. I appreciate the time taken and will most likely return to re-read, as I have again this night, for comfort. For the memories and the pain never seem to be far away.

      These past twenty years, I have sought an answer to questions that defy explanation. Yet, I pray and continue to hope, that perhaps change will come and we will see, at long last, an end to these horrible acts within our Church. I pray that our Church will be guided by the spirit and filled with strength and courage to rid God’s house of evil. I also pray that priests, brothers and lay people can again, take their proper place in the church.

      Blessings to my friends – wherever they may be – always.

      Many thanks again.

      • 1 abandoned sheep says:

        Pam, the changes will only come in the Church when the Bishops, ALL OF THEM, have the courage to enforcegood common sense, the directions of the Magesterium of the Church, and to live the vows they took.
        They seem to be awfully short on courage in particular.

  10. Pam says:

    Thank you Raymond and 1abondonedsheep.

    Your collective words and your experiences have provided me comfort and guidance since I originally posted my message almost a year ago.

    Despite all that you have said, I am still searching for news. It seems that every few months, I look for my friends, the brothers, and ache for them. Every few months I look for updates on O’Dell as well.

    It seems that I routinely rerun all of my many, many experiences with him from almost twenty-five years ago. I remember that when O’Dell arrived, he was not alone; there were initially two priests in our parish and O’Dell was the associate Pastor. It seemed that the Pastor of our Parish left rather soon after he arrived – and rather abruptly, as there was not much, if any, advance notice. The reasoning behind his departure was his long-standing involvement with a charity and that work demanding so much more of his time and energy – leaving O’Dell alone to work his evil. I do not suspect that the Pastor of the Parish knew or turned a blind eye about what was going on with O’Dell. My perspective is that he simply could not live with O’Dell. He knew that O’Dell was someone he could not live with, nor work with; O’Dell was unclean and did not attend to himself or his home environment. My Mom even started to volunteer to assist with cooking and cleaing on weekends. O’Dell’s dog urinated throughout the home, which was just one example of the problems which later resulted in the rectory being completely renovated. Perhaps O’Dell deliberatly drove his Pastor out; leaving him hopefully alone in the Parish to run things his way? If so, this is exactly what happened.

    Having said all this, I must say that O’Dell was very good at preaching the Gospel and providing God’s message through many activities within the church. My confirmation was made very special. I still have a picture of me with O’Dell. He claimed he never allowed pictures of himself. I felt lucky and honoured! I remember the parish having a feet washing ceremony during lent in which O’Dell washed feet and a lenten meal that followed with all parisheners attending. We celebrated our faith as a parish and grew as a parish as so many more became active. The parish seemed to vibrate with song and prayer. I remember reading the scriptures every week at mass and being excited as I was the first woman on the altar and I was a young girl! I was honoured. He often taught me the more difficult words and names found in the readings. We had youth activities. We decorated the church. We were involved and our faith felt alive. My faith was so strong.

    Twenty years later, I still hold the beliefs that were taught to me as a child, but struggle with the experiences of those young men who were victimized by O’Dell and others like ‘him’. I cry every time I think of ‘him’ and his vicious and evil acts. I cry when I think of my beloved friends and that beautiul young man whose life is now lost due to his experiences, but will never be forgotten. I cry when I think of the horror that was experienced by so many victims and the loss experienced by all those parisheners, especially those closely affected in Copper Cliff, Lively and White River.

    My pain is not daily, but when it hits, it grips. It is overwhelming and I am consumed with reading updates and trying to determine if ‘he’ has been locked up permanently. I am consumed with my search to learn if ‘he’ has been defrocked. I am consumed with my search to determine if there has been any justice. Over the years, there has not been much, if any, of these developments. And all this leaves me so sad.

    All I can say, again, is that I am so sorry that there are victims. I think and pray for each, almost every day. I am so sorry for the families that were affected. I am so sorry for your pain and your loss. I am so sorry for the parishes that were rocked by the news and devastation of ‘his’ actions. I am so sorry for all the victims of all those other evil persons. I am so sorry that our Church seems to be bound by legal concerns that they cannot, or will not, take a stand to say that all these behaviours and wrong-doings are evil and must stop! I am so sorry that our Church does not take a stand and defrock these evil persons and put an end to supporting pedophelia within the Church environs itself. I am quite simply very sorry and so sad that this continues year and year with no real end in sight and that there are so many, many victims who go through life – and often to death – without justice. I have to believe that their rewards will be in heaven. That doesn’t make life on earth easier though.

    Thank you for allowing me to post, yet again. It seems this is the only place where someone can come and see what has happened and what is, or rather, what is not being done in response. Thank you for allowing me to get some of this pain out ‘there’. It makes some of the thoughts easier to manage. Perhaps our Church leaders will someday read all of these posts and will truly listen and will adminster the justice that these victims so desperately and rightly deserve.

    God Bless You All. May God’s Love, Peace and Joy Be With You Always, Pam

  11. Chris says:

    I did not realize that PIG was still a priest! As I said in my comments regarding Hod Marshall it is no wonder I no longer have any faith in God

  12. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    If this abominable creature is still a priest, the catholic church should be ashamed of itself.
    Can you just imagine, this pig still has the power to transubstanciate!!!! Something really wrong here…………………………………. Mike.

  13. Tom McAllister says:

    I was a friend of John Do and spoke to him shortly before he died and I think that the fight for justice kept him alive, but when the fight was over and won, the pain and emptiness never went away. I honestly think that the Catholic Church has has written history and exercised control of this earth with evil and greed that is unsurpassed.

  14. Sonny says:

    I’m a nearing 54 year old male victim of O’Dell’s sick machinations. Pam grew up with me in Copper Cliff Ontario. Given free reign in the parish….his behaviour grew in toxicity. There’s hope in this media age that someone may step forward and establish a foundation through which questions may be answered re: who this deviant hurt…how their lives developed in the ensuing decades. If I find such a resource..I’ll ask Sylvia if I can post the link.

  15. Sonny King says:

    Hey Sylvia….is the above AOK???

  16. Sonny King says:

    Working on alot things!!!!

  17. Sonny King says:

    Happy New Years 2018.+.

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