Malta Independent Online28 November 2010
By Scott Grech
Fr Godwin Scerri, one of four priests facing charges of sexually abusing boys living at St Joseph Home in Santa Venera two decades ago, would be arrested immediately, were he to set foot again in Canada, an Ontario Provincial Police spokesman confirmed to this newspaper.
Fr Scerri has been accused of sexually abusing minors between 1983 and 1987 when he served in the area of Windsor, Ontario.
He was charged in June 1993 with sexual assault and gross indecency following complaints filed by a man who was 22-years-old at the time the charges were made. The priest fled from Canada immediately after.
The complainant alleged that the abuse, which began when he was 12 years old, occurred between 1983 and 1987 on Pelee Island and Emeryville, when Fr Scerri worked as a priest at St William’s Church.
The spokesman added that the Ontario police would like to see Fr Scerri extradited from Malta to Canada to face charges there, and that a Canada-wide arrest warrant for him was still valid.
“The charges against Fr Scerri are still pending, and an arrest warrant still exists for him.
“While there is the possibility of Fr Scerri being extradited from Malta to Canada in the future, the Ontario police are continuing its investigations into the case,” the spokesman said.
In October 2003, Fr Scerri and two other priests who were serving with the Missionary Society of Saint Paul (MSSP) at the time – Fr Charles Pulis and Brother Joseph Bonnett – were charged with abusing and raping children at St Joseph Home in Santa Venera.
Another priest, Fr Conrad Sciberras, who has since fled to Italy, was also charged.
Seven years after the alleged victims, of whom there were originally three, spoke in public of their ordeal for the first time, it was only last month that the church in Malta conceded that their allegations were “founded”.
The number of victims alleging sexual abuse at St Joseph Home has since increased to 17.
The case against the priests will now be sent to the Vatican for adjudication, and a decision on whether or not they are to be defrocked is expected in the coming weeks, as court proceedings against the priests in Malta continue.