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
1992: GUILTY 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 Other charges withdrawn after he pled guilty.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
By SAM PAZZANO, COURTS BUREAU
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
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.