G. Frank Scerri
(Father Godwin Scerri, or Father Frank Scerri mssp)
Laicized in 2011. Ex priest, Missionary Society of St. Paul. Native of Malta and possibly for a time a diocesan priest. Ordained 1969. Served as a priest in Ontario, Canada 1981 to 1992 (I think solely in the Diocese of London, Ontario). Around 1993 fled Canada around time sex abuse charges laid in relation to allegations of sex abuse of 12 year-old-boy at Pelee Island and Emeryville (Diocese of London, Ontario) starting 1983 to 1987 . Church officials in Malta were aware of allegations against him in Canada. According to media reports in October 2010 he was in Rome. A warrant for Scerri’s arrest in Canada is outstanding. Scerri has been convicted in Malta. He lost an appeal – sentenced to five years in prison. According to media reports several months ago the Ontario Provincial Police was debating extradition.
August 2015: released on parole after serving three years of a five year sentence in Malta
21 March 2017: Pedophile priests: The escape
19 November 2012: Jailed paedophile priest still wanted in Canada
13 November 2012: Local pedophile priest jailed in Malta after failed appeal
13 November 2012: Lost his appeal. Sentenced to five years in prison. Handcuffed in the courtroom and taken to Corradio Prisons in Malta (M)
26 October 2012: Judge to rule on appeal
June 2012: appealing his conviction
18 April 2012: appeal of acquittal of rape charge dismissed (the Crown made an error on the charge sheet – named the wrong location of the rape) He is now appealing his other convictions alleging that the victim is a liar.
02 August 2011: CONVICTED in Malta – sentenced to 5 years in jail. Notice of appeal has been given (It appears that these sex crimes were committed while Scerri was serving in the Diocese of London and visiting Malta?)
DEFROCKED: 18 October 2011: Godwin Scerri dismissed from clerical state
Bishops of the Diocese of London, Ontario while Scerri served in the diocese: John Michael Sherlock (7 July 1978 – 27 April 2002 )
Auxiliary Bishop of London while Scerri served in the diocese: Marcel André J. Gervais (19 April 1980 – 03 May 1985);
The following information is drawn from available Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) of that date, media reports (M)
18 April 2012: appeal of acquittal of rape charge dismissed (the Crown made an error on the charge sheet – named the wrong location of the rape) He is now appealing his other convictions alleging that the victim is a liar.
02 August 2011: CONVICTED
October 2010: according to media reports is in Rome
April 2010: according to media reports, Ontario Provincial Police re-opened the case against against Scerri. The OPP are looking for further information. The OPP would allegedly like to see Scerri extradited. The Canada-wide warrant is still valid.
2003: sex abuse charges in Malta against Scerri and three members of the Missionary Society of St. Paul. Teh allegations relate to sex abuse at an orphanage. Scerri is identified as a diocesan priest and former member of the order. The charges against him include those of rape and violence (M)
1993: not listed in directory (CCCD)
June 1993: CHARGED (M) – appears to have fled the country by time charges were laid. He refused to return. Officials with the London Diocese allegedly said they could not force him to return. Church officials in Malta were informed of the charges (M)
1992, 1991: address for Saint William, Emeryville, Ontario (Diocese of London – Pastor: Father R.T. Buchanan Jr.) (CCCD)
July 1990: passport stamped with a departure from Malta (M)
1983-1987: Saint William RC Church, Emeryville, Ontario (M)
1987: According to an article in the 21 March 1987 edition of the Windsor Star (“No generation gap here”) it was Father Scerri who suggested that the Squires (a youth group organized by the Knights of Columbus) visit a senior citizens home more frequently. That led to the formation of the Adopt-a-Senior program. (The youth had previously been assisting at a Mass for seniors every Saturday in Emeryville)
1985-86: address for Saint William, Emeryville, Ontario (shown as incardinated in Diocese of London, Ontario – Pastor Father J Barbara mssp) (CCCD)
– allegations of sex abuse relate to years 1983-87 while Scerri was serving at St. William’s in Emeryville, Ontario (M)
September 1985: passport stamped with a departure from Malta (M)
1980: not listed in Ontario directory
1973-74: not listed in Canadian Catholic Church Directory (CCCD)
07 July 2012: Priests appeal judgement in October
16 June 2012: Priests’ abuse appeal
14 May 2012: Police Board probes charge sheet mistakes
20 April 2012: PL blames a lack of staff for rape charge mistake
18 April 2012: Appeal over priest’s acquittal in rape case dismissed
28 March 2012: Court: Godwin Scerri judgement due today
08 January 2012: Abuse victims give Church ultimatum
13 November 2011: UK ruling on clerical child abuse ineffective
18 October 2011: Godwin Scerri dismissed from clerical state
06 October 2011: Acquitted priest told not to work with children
26 August 2011: OPP anxious for priest’s return
14 August 2011: Priest threatens to sue sex abuse victim for libel
13 August 2011: Abuse priests file appeal – question credibility of the victims
12 August 2011: Sex abuse victims to meet Archbishop today
09 August 2011: Curia’s Response Team investigating another priest
03 August 2011: Church asks for forgiveness over child abuse
03 August 2011: Updated: Charge sheet error frees priest of rape conviction
31 July 2011: Another fugitive
31 July 2011: Canadian search warrant for Maltese priest remains open
28 November 2010: Canadian arrest warrant for Fr. Godwin Scerri remains valid
Church’s Response Team took seven years to believe abuse victims’ allegations
Five of the victims of past sexual abuse by priests at St Joseph’s Home have had their allegations confirmed by the Maltese Church’s response team for victims of priest sex abuse.
30 October 2010
Even though they have been told their case will be sent to the Vatican for adjudication, the Catholic Church may decide to have their case heard in Malta instead of Rome.
Philip Cauchi, 40, Joseph Magro, 38, Lawrence Grech, 38, Olivier Goodram, 39 and Joseph Mangion, 37, this morning described the letter from the Missionary Society of St Paul as one step forward for their liberation.
Speaking on behalf of the victims, journalist Lou Bondì said it was a ‘disgrace’ that it took seven years to register their allegations as founded, even though there was enough evidence for the case to start.
Bondì reiterated that it was only due to the Pope’s recent visit earlier this year, that the process gained momentum. “The victims had a positive experience with Mgr Carmel Scicluna, the papal delegate on their case, who has worked really hard on the case,” Bondì said, adding that it could not be said the same about the Church response team, which investigates priest sex abuse cases.
The victims, individually, were informed through a letter that “the case will be passed on to Rome.”
The letter was signed by the superior general of the Missionary Society of St Paul (MSSP), of which the accused priests were members. However, Lawrence Grech, who had been the first victim to come out with the alleged sexual abuse back in 2003, expressed skepticism.
“The letter was possibly written by a lawyer, it’s too open-ended and could give rise to many interpretations,” Grech said.
Initially, there had been four members of the MSSP who were charged by police: Br Joseph Bonett, Fr Charles Pulis, Fr Conrad Sciberras and Fr Godwin Scerri. However, the letter only mentioned Pulis, Sciberras and Bonett as the accused against whom allegations had been founded.
“The Church’s Response Team has not found enough evidence against Fr Godwin Scerri and therefore he was not mentioned in the letter,” Bondì stated, adding that he may have been named in letters received by other victims, who in total amount to 17.
Only Goodram who was also present at the conference claimed to have been abused by Scerri. According to Grech, Scerri is allegedly a Canadian fugitive who has similar accuses in Canada.
All five of the victims said that all they want now is to see the priests behind bars.
“We have been betrayed by these men who we saw in them a father-figure,” they said. “All we want now is for them to be jailed and made sure that they are in nowhere near children.”
The three priests are currently residing at St Agatha’s Convent in Rabat.
During the press conference, Grech also called out to the general public “to remove their blinkers and act as a mature society”.
“Listen to your children when they speak to you and take action. If people had listened to what I had to say back then, none of this would have happened. And we (the victims) wouldn’t have gone through all this suffering all these years,” Grech insisted.
Church finds sex abuse claims were ‘founded’ and refers case to Vatican
29 November 2010
Police investigations into allegations of paedophilia by three members of the Missionary Society of St Paul and one diocesan priest took the country by storm in 2003.
The four persons charged by police were Fr Joseph Bonnett, Fr Godwin Scerri, Fr Charles Pulis and Fr Conrad Sciberras.
The first three are all members of the MSSP order while Fr Sciberras is a former member of the MSSP and now a diocesan priest.
For a brief period in the late eighties Fr Sciberras was the head of St Paul’s Missionary College in Rabat and he was also a teacher at the school.
A couple of years ago, Fr Sciberras left the order but remained a diocesan priest. He is currently in Malta.
Fr Joseph Bonnett was for some time responsible for the St Joseph Institute in St Venera.
In the eighties Fr Bonnett was also involved in the Depiro Youth Centre, where he helped organise the football nursery. In 1987, when based at the St Joseph Institute, Fr Bonnett helped create the St Venera football club nursery and remained involved until the early nineties.
Fr Charles Pulis also taught and offered his pastoral services at the St Paul’s Missionary College. Both him and Fr Bonnett are in Malta. On the other hand, Fr Godwin Scerri is currently based in Rome.
The alleged victims said they were sexually abused by the four clergymen while residing at the St Joseph Institute in St Venera.
The alleged abuse took place between the early eighties and early nineties when the victims were aged between 13 and 16. One of the alleged victims, Lawrence Grech, now aged 31 had appeared on Bondiplus with a story of alleged sexual abuse perpetrated by at least two of the priests.
Grech graphically described how at the age of 12 one of the priests started taking liberties with him. The contact at first involved touching and friendly bites on the face. Later on, Grech alleged, one of the priests also tried to masturbate him.
Last April Pope Benedict XVI accepted to meet a number of men who were sexually abused by members of the clergy, and was reported to have cried with the victims.
OPP reopens case of priest who fled Canada while facing sex charges
April 15, 2010 6:02 PM
By Craig Pearson,
WINDSOR, Ont. — The Ontario Provincial Police has reopened a case against a former Windsor, Ont.-area priest accused of sexual assaulting minors in Canada before moving to Malta where he faced similar charges a decade later.
“Allegations from the case recently came to light so it has been resurrected as a cold case,” OPP spokeswoman Shawna Coulter said Thursday. “We are looking at any information we can get.”
A Canadawide warrant for Rev. Godwin Scerri remains valid, and Coulter said the OPP would still like to extradite him to face sex-abuse charges here.
Vatican spokesmen, meanwhile, say the Pope is considering meeting this weekend in Malta with victims of sexual assault at the hands of three priests, including Scerri.
The OPP charged Scerri in June 1993 with sexual assault and gross indecency, stemming from complaints by a 22-year-old man. The complainant alleged the abuse occurred between 1983 and 1987 — starting when the victim was 12 years old — on Pelee Island and in Emeryville, where Scerri worked as a priest at St. William’s Church.
Scerri never faced those allegations in court, however, since he had returned to his native Malta — where he was named spiritual director of a girls’ secondary school in the city of Rabat, according to the Malta Today newspaper.
In October 2003, Scerri and two other members of the Missionary Society of St. Paul — Rev. Charles Pulis and Brother Joseph Bonnett — were charged with abusing and raping children at the St. Joseph Home in Santa Venera in Malta.
Ten men who claim to have been sexually abused by members of the clergy are following a court proceeding in Malta concerning Scerri, Pulis and Bonnet. The tribunal, which has gone on intermittently since 2003, is closed to the public and few details have emerged.
Maltese reporters can’t even say whether Scerri, Pulis and Bonnet are in custody or remain free. The Malta diocese has said none of the accused priests remain in positions of authority.
The Malta diocese told the Windsor Star it will not comment on the situation.
The only alleged victim to publicly speak on the topic is angered that Scerri faced charges in Canada and simply moved to Malta where he allegedly continued his ways.
“The problem is he escaped from Canada but the bishop in Malta put him at an orphanage,” Lawrence Grech, 37, said by telephone Thursday from Malta.
Grech said he remembers Scerri as a kind man. “He was friendly with kids. He had a nice character.”
But Grech claims Scerri also had a dark side. Grech said he was abused by three priests at the St. Joseph orphanage, starting when he was 11 years old. He said Scerri was not one of his abusers, though his best friend alleges he was abused by Scerri.
“The abuse was normal. It was common for us,” said Grech, who spoke at a news conference in Malta this week, calling the seven-year court case against his alleged abusers too long and asking to meet with the Pope over the incidents. “In fact, we used to dress as women.”
Grech said the abuse caused lasting pain.
“It hurt me,” he said. “It hurt me spiritually, and inside my heart. I was an innocent boy, but my innocence ended early.”
The case is receiving heightened attention since Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Malta on the weekend in a whirlwind 26-hour trip. Vatican spokesmen have been quoted as saying that the Pope has a “very tight schedule” in Malta and may not be able to meet the alleged victims, who argue that they would receive some closure by receiving an audience with the Pope.
Some 40,000 to 50,000 people are expected to flock to the Pope’s Sunday mass in Malta, a Mediterranean country of 400,000 on an archipelago off the coast of southern Italy.
The visit comes as a worldwide scandal intensifies on the Roman Catholic Church, and in particular the Vatican, for allegedly covering up abuse by priests — and in some cases, reassigning offending clergy to positions of power over minors and other vulnerable people.
Curia Knew about Priest’s Alleged Sex Abuse History since 1993
Fr Godwin Scerri’s Paedophilia Charges in Canada Relate to 1983
By Karl Schembri
The Malta Independent [Malta]
Downlaoded October 17, 2003 (AbuseTracker)
A priest who is now facing charges of rape and sexual abuse of a child at St Joseph’s Home in Santa Venera had already faced charges of child sexual abuse that he allegedly committed while in Canada between 1983 and 1987, before he allegedly abused children in Malta.
According to a Canadian paper, the Maltese Curia was informed about the charges by Canadian authorities.
Fr Godwin Scerri, 67, a member of the Missionary Society of St Paul, was reported by Canadian newspaper The Windsor Star on 24 June 1993 as facing “sexual assault charges if he ever returns to Canada” following a warrant of arrest issued by the Ontario Provincial Police.
The report carrying the title, “Accused priest remains in Malta”, had said that Fr Scerri was wanted by the Canadian authorities in connection with charges of sexual abuse filed by a 22-year-old man. The man had alleged that he was sexually abused by Fr Scerri while the priest was in Emeryville and on Pelee Island between 1983 and 1987. Fr Scerri was a priest at St William’s Church in Emeryville at that time.
The Ontario Provincial Police had said back then that they issued a warrant for the arrest of Fr Scerri after London diocese officials said they couldn’t force Fr Scerri to return to Canada from Malta. The Windsor Star report said that the Maltese Curia had been informed of the charges, including sexual assault and gross indecency, adding that Fr Scerri had refused to return to Canada.
Only three months after The Windsor Star’s report, KullHadd picked up the story and published the charges against Fr Scerri in a front-page report on 5 September 1993.
KullHadd had followed Fr Scerri’s steps back here in Malta and reported that he was working at the San Domenico Savio oratory in Birkirkara with adolescents and youth. He was also working at St Joseph’s Home in Santa Venera.
The Archbishop’s Curia had confirmed to KullHadd that it knew about the allegations “but only through foreign newspaper reports” while former MSSP Superior General Fr James Bonello had told the media that “MSSP carried its preliminary investigations and it resulted that the priest in question always denied the allegations against him both in Canada and in Malta”.
Fr Scerri is now facing paedophilia charges together with Fr Charles Pulis and Br Joseph Bonnett in a child abuse scandal that rocked the Maltese church over the last weeks. Fr Scerri is the only one who is also facing charges of rape with violence. The three religious members are expected to appear in Court on 28 October in front of Magistrate Saviour Demicoli behind close doors.
Some cases of child abuse reported to the Maltese police go back to around 1983 and have been allegedly ongoing until this year with other children, until the priests involved were reportedly removed from contact with children.
At least 11 children were allegedly sexually abused by the priests at the institute for children in Santa Venera, at the MSSP’s summer residence in Marfa and at St Agatha’s convent in Rabat. The reports carried by The Windsor Star and KullHadd in 1993 state that both the Curia and the MSSP knew about the allegations in Canada but they still allowed Fr Scerri to work with children at the institute upon his return, at the society’s youth oratory in Birkirkara and elsewhere.
When contacted yesterday, the Director of St Joseph’s Home, Fr Silvio Bezzina, said he could not answer questions about Fr Scerri in 1993 as he was not in a position of authority back then.
“I don’t know what happened at that time,” Fr Bezzina said.
He added that the Superior General of that time is now on a mission in the Philippines.
The MSSP’s new Superior General, Fr Bernard Mangion, could not be reached by the time we went to print yesterday.
The Malta Independent sent the following questions by e-mail and fax to the Curia’s Public Relations Officer, Charles Buttigieg, on Wednesday evening.
1. What did the Curia do in relation to Fr Scerri upon his return to Malta from Canada?
2. Did the Curia investigate the alleged abuse committed by the said priest in Canada?
3. Why didn’t the Curia prevent Fr Scerri from coming into contact with children upon his return?
4. The Malta Independent has a report that Fr Scerri worked at a government school in Rabat with young children until this year. Why didn’t the Curia inform Education Division about his dubious past?
5. By withholding this information wasn’t the Maltese Curia permitting the possibility of abuse with Maltese schoolchildren?
6. How could the Curia allow a priest with such an allegation work with young children?
7. What did the Curia do about this case since 1993, when the case was made public?
8. Given that the Response Team was not yet established in 1993, what did Archbishop Joseph Mercieca do about this case?
9. Doesn’t this case prompt the Curia to revise its policy of secrecy in such cases and adopt a similar policy to that of the Diocese of Portsmouth – which adopts a policy of transparency in such cases?
9. Why should the Archbishop’s request for a pardon be taken seriously when (or rather, if) nothing was done for 10 whole years about clerical paedophilia?
Mr Buttigieg replied later yesterday: “The person you mention in your questions is now being charged in court and so his case is sub iudice. In view of this, I cannot answer your questions.”
Call for ban on publication of name dismissed
Times of Malta
27 July 2002
A magistrate yesterday dismissed a request by lawyers appearing for a priest charged with molesting young girls to ban the publication of his name.
Magistrate Abigail Lofaro ruled that the request made by Fr Luigi Scerri and his brother Godfrey Scerri, who is facing similar charges, did not fall within the parameters laid down by law for bans on the publication of names.
Fr Scerri, 65, of Sta Venera and his brother, 64, of Zabbar, are pleading not guilty to regularly defiling three girls aged under 12 before 1998. Fr Scerri is also charged with offending public morals.
The compilation of evidence, which started earlier this month is, however, still being heard behind closed doors.
Police Inspector Louise Vella is prosecuting.
Dr Giannella Caruana Curran and Dr Emmanuel Mallia are appearing for the defendants. Dr Nicole Vella De Fremeaux is appearing in parte civile.
Accused priest remains in Malta
The Windsor Star
24 June 1993
A former Emeryville priest will face sexual assault charges if he ever returns to Canada, Ontario Provincial Police reported Wednesday.
Belle River OPP have issued a warrant for the arrest of 57-year-old Rev. Godwin Scerri, who lives on Malta.
A 22-year-old Belle River man has complained of sexual abuse beginning when he was 12 years old.
The offences allegedly occurred in Emeryville and on Pelee Island between 1983 and 1987. At the time, Scerri was a priest at St. William’s Church in Emeryville.
OPP issued the warrant after London Dioceses officials said they couldn’t force Scerri to return from the independent island republic.
Church officials in Malta have been informed of the charges.
Scerri is wanted for sexual assault and gross indecency. He has refused to return to Canada.