Poirier: Father Rene Poirier

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Priest, Diocese of Hearst, Ontario.  Ordained 1981.  1991 CONVICTED for sexual assault of 17-year-old boy.  Sentenced to five months in jail.

The judge found that the diocese “had all the information necessary to conclude Poirier was a deviate, but nevertheless sent him back to work with young men”  Poirier was sent to the States for treatment – he left the facility after a short spell and returned to the diocese where he was once again assigned to provide counselling services to young men.


Bishops of Hearst Diocese from time of Father Rene Poirier’s ordination:  Roger-Alfred Despatie  (08 February 1973 – – 13 April 1993); Pierre Fisette, P.M.E. (27 December 1993 – 21 December 1995); André Vallée, P.M.E. (19 August 1996 –  03 November 2005)


1997, 1996:  not listed (CCCD)

1995, 1994:  “Address inconnue” (CCCD)

1993, 1991:  address for Diocesan Centre,Hearst,Ontario (Diocese of Hearst) (CCCD)

January 1991:  sentenced to five months for sex assault of a 17-year-old boy who had gone to him for counselling (M)

November 1989:  Warrant out for Poirier’s arrest

Provided counselling for young people in a group home.  Conviction and other sex abuse charges relate to the times Poirier was serving as a counsellor and providing vaseline rubs to boys as part of ‘therapy.’

1985-86:  Pastor at Sacred Heart of Jesus RC Church in Chapleau,Ontario with missions at St. Jean de Brebeuf in Island Lake, and a mission in Pineal Lake, Ontario (CCCD)



Man awarded $43,500 for sex abuse by priest

Toronto Star

19 May 1994 

By Gary Oakes

A 21-year-old man has been awarded damages of $43,500 for sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a priest in a group home for troubled teens.

The abuse took place five years ago and the priest, Rene Poirier, was later convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to six months in jail, Mr. Justice Robert Boissonneault stated in a judgment obtained by The Star in Toronto yesterday.

The Ontario Court, general division, judge ordered Poirier and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of the diocese of Hearst to pay the victim $25,000 in general damages and $11,000 for future care.

Boissonneault also ordered the diocese to pay the victim punitive damages of $7,500 because the bishop in charge at the time, the late Roger Despatie, had been warned that Poirier “had a propensity for sex with young men.”

The judge found that the diocese “had all the information necessary to conclude Poirier was a deviate but nevertheless sent him back to work with young men” in Chapleau.

Boissonneault wrote that he awarded the punitive damages “not so much out of outrage (over) the bishop’s actions in sending Poirier back to Chapleau, after all the warnings he received.

“I do so more for the purpose of deterring those in charge of persons, such as priests or brothers who are in positions of trust, for being not vigilant to the possibility of abuses,” the judge wrote.

“In my view, when a question of misconduct arises in this area, it is the duty of the bishop to suspend the employee’s duties immediately and to investigate fully, with the help of the police . . . .”


The Lawyers Weekly

19 June 10, 1994

                         M.T. v. Poirier

Ontario Court of Justice (General Division)

Boissoneault J.

March 14, 1994 ‑ 17 pp.

(1994), 14 L.W. 1406‑005

Damages ‑‑ Sexual assault ‑‑ $35,000 general damages ‑‑ $11,000 for counselling ‑‑ $7,500 punitive damages.

Torts ‑‑ Assault and battery ‑‑ Sexual assault ‑‑ Priest and diocese liable for sexual assault of youth.

Plaintiff, 21, sought damages against a Roman Catholic priest, a diocese and a bishop (now deceased).  He alleged that in 1989, he was sexually assaulted by the priest.  At the time, plaintiff was receiving counselling from the priest in a group home after being convicted as a young offender of exposing himself to young girls.

Plaintiff became concerned about the priests conduct when the priest hugged him frequently, performed slow massages on him, invited him to swim nude, disrobed in front of him, and asked plaintiff to sleep in the same bed.  The assault occurred when the priest went into plaintiff’s bedroom at night, rolled plaintiff onto his back, got on top of him and ground his hips into plaintiffs.  The priest had an erection at the time.  As a result of that conduct, the priest was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to six months in jail.  Prior to the conduct with plaintiff, the bishop was warned about the priest’s inappropriate sexual behaviour by a another priest and a church worker.  As a result of complaints about massages, the bishop had sent the priest to the United States for treatment, but the priest returned after a few weeks and was re‑assigned to his counselling position.  He attended therapy once a month, but no reports about the treatment were requested by the bishop.  As a result of the priest’s conduct, plaintiff experienced recurrent dreams, feared priests and homosexuals and sometimes experienced sexual dysfunction with his common law wife.  Psychological counselling was recommended.

HELD:  judgment for plaintiff.  Defendant priest was liable for sexually assaulting plaintiff.  As a priest he was in a position of trust, and appreciated his actions much more than the average person would. Plaintiff was entitled to an award against the priest of $25,000 general damages, and $11,000 for psychological counselling.  The diocese, through the bishop, was grossly negligent in sending the priest back to his counselling position, and liable for $7,500 punitive damages.  The award of punitive damages was made principally for the purpose of deterrence.  When a question of misconduct arose in connection with a priest, it was the duty of his bishop to suspend the priests duties immediately and investigate fully with the help of the police.

End of document.


T. (M.) v. Poirier

47 A.C.W.S. (3d) 1110


File No. 4125‑91

Received May 18, 1994

OntarioCourt (General Division)

Boissonneault J.

March 14, 1994

TORTS ‑‑ Assault and battery ‑‑ Priest while acting as counsellor and acting as therapist sexually molested victim, then aged 16 ‑‑ Bishop was aware that priest had previously performed similar improper acts and had left residential treatment centre prematurely ‑‑ Priest and diocese corporation were liable.

DAMAGES ‑‑ Assault and battery ‑‑ Sexual acts against victim, aged 16, resulted in psychological harm including depression, fears, sexual dysfunction ‑‑ General damages of $25,000 were  awarded against priest who perpetrated acts, and against corporation ‑‑ Punitive damages of $7,500 were awarded against diocese where bishop should have been aware of misconduct of priest.

Plaintiff, then aged 16, was sent for therapeutic treatment at centre operated by church, and was given counselling and treatment by priest in whom he trusted ‑‑ Priest engaged in repeated acts of sexual misconduct with plaintiff, for over two months, and priest sought further acts which plaintiff refused to perform ‑‑ Another priest and another parent had previously complained to bishop concerning conduct of priest, but priest continued in role as counsellor ‑‑ Priest attended treatment but withdrew prematurely and was merely required to attend on infrequent basis ‑‑ Plaintiff sought damages for psychological effects, including depression, fears and sexual dysfunction, from which he had recovered substantially within five years, after considerable counselling ‑‑ Action was brought against priest, bishop and diocesan corporation

‑‑ HELD:  Corporation was liable for acts of bishop in failing to take appropriate steps to deal with problem which should have been dealt with promptly

‑‑ General damages of $25,000 were awarded against priest and corporation and $11,000 for cost of future care required

‑‑ Punitive damages of $7,500 were awarded against corporation.

(17 pp.)

CLB Publication Date:  PD940707

CLB Reference Number:  CLB094138012

End of document.


Catholic priest gets 5 months in jail for sex assault on teen 

Toronto Star

19 January 1991

SUDBURY(CP) – A Roman Catholic priest has been jailed for five months for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old male who’d gone to him for counselling and therapy.

Rev. Rene Poirier, 47, of Chapleau, Ont., was sentenced yesterday after he was convicted in a six-day trial last month in the general division of Ontario Court.

Poirier, a priest since 1981, was originally charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of improper touching, all involving the same person.

He was found guilty of sexually assaulting the victim in 1989 while he slept in a church rectory in Chapleau, about 240 kilometres (149 miles) northeast of Sudbury.

Before passing sentence, Judge S. D. Loukidelis read 123 letters from people in Chapleau and other parts ofCanadawho know the priest.

Defence lawyer Vic Vere portrayed his client as a man who spent his life helping others.

He said Poirier has accepted the decision of the court but has never admitted his guilt.


Priest is jailed for sexual assault

Montreal Gazette

19 January 1991

SUDBURY, Ont. – A Roman Catholic priest has been sent to jail for five months for sexually assaulting a 17-year-old male who had gone to him for counselling and therapy.

Rev. Rene Poirier, 47, of Chapleau, Ont., was sentenced yesterday after he was convicted in a six-day trial last month in the general division of Ontario Court.

Poirier, a priest since 1981, was originally charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of improper touching, all involving the same person.

Poirier was found guilty of sexually assaulting the victim while he slept in a church rectory in Chapleau, about 240 kilometres northeast of Sudbury.

The incident took place between Aug. 14 and Aug. 31, in 1989.

Prior to passing sentence, Judge S.D. Loukidelis read 123 letters from people in Chapleau and other parts of Canada who knew Poirier.

“I understand the motives behind the people who wrote,” said the judge.

“They were moved by charity and loyalty to the accused.


Canadian Press

12 December 1990


A Roman Catholic priest was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old youth who went to him for counselling in 1989.

Rene Poirier, 47, of Chapleau, Ont., will be sentenced Jan. 18.

The youth testified Poirier climbed into bed with him one night and began making sexual suggestive movements with his hips.

Poirier, a priest since 1981, repeatedly denied the accusations but Justice S. D. Loukidelis of the general division of the Ontario Court said his actions pointed to a guilty conscience.

The incident came to light when the youth told a high school teacher. The teacher testified Poirier threatened to disclose things he learned during confession if the charges were pursued.

Chapleau is about 140 kilometres north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.


Canadian Press

19 November 1990

SUDBURY, Ont. (CP) — A Roman Catholic priest facing with three sex-related charges told a judge Monday he did nothing wrong.

Rene Poirier, 47, of Chapleau, was charged last year with two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation by a person in a position of authority.


Canadian Press

09 November 1990


A Chapleau Roman Catholic priest who gave a 17-year-old youth massage sessions took the stand Friday to deny sexual assault charges.

Father Rene Poirier, 47, is charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation by a person in a position of trust.

When asked repeatedly about the massage sessions, Poirier told defence lawyer Victor Vere he never fondled or touched the youth in a sexual manner.

“The massages always took place in public,” Poirier said.

The boy always wore a pair of “tight Bermuda shorts” and was always the last of four people to be massaged, the priest told the court.

Poirier denied rubbing the boy’s buttocks, penis or scrotum as alleged earlier in the trial.

The charges relate to incidents from August to September 1989 when Poirier, who is also a psychologist, was parish priest of Sacred Heart Church in Chapleau, about 230 kilometres northwest of Sudbury.

The priest was treating the 17-year-old boy for emotional problems. The youth had indecently exposed himself in public on several occasions and had sought help from Poirier.

Part of Poirier’s treatment involved giving him massages using Vaseline, but always with other people present, Poirier testified.

A ban on publication of the youth’s name has been imposed by Justice S.D.Loukidelis

Crown  attorney Marc Huneault will begin his cross-examination Nov. 19.


Police seek Catholic priest on sex charges

Toronto Star

14 November 1989

Ontario Provincial Police have issued a Canada-wide warrant for the arrest of a Chapleau, Ont., Roman Catholic priest.

Rev. Rene Poirier, 46, is facing four sex-related charges.

Police said they have been in contact Poirier’s lawyer and expected he would turn himself in today at the Sudbury District Courthouse. Chapleau is about 220 kilometres (140 miles) northwest of Sudbury.

Poirier, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, was charged on Nov. 9 with two counts of sexual assault, one count of sexual exploitation and one charge of obstructing justice.

20 Responses to Poirier: Father Rene Poirier

  1. Gérard Lalonde says:

    At the time, (1989) I was the teacher who denounced the priest. He sexually abused other students( the parents refused to let their kids testify).
    As for me, he phoned me one hour before I went to the OPP to say that I would reveal the sessions of group masturbation and drugs I had with my students at my place. I replied that I would also tell to the OPP.
    Of course, I never did such things, but He ruined my reputation at the time.
    The bishop also phoned at my place to blame me for denunciation Father Poirier to the OPP at the time.
    I was removed from my function of musician at the Church, and the priests who were servin in Chapleau during the trial and even after Poirier’s conviction kept repeating that he was innocent, even when he was in jail.
    I lost my faith and went into a major depression for which I was treated for several years.
    Poirier was also involved with different women (sex ually).

  2. Sylvia says:

    Thank you Gerard for sharing that. What can I say? I am so sorry for the pain you have suffered for doing the right thing and reporting Poirier to police. In every case of clerical sexual abuse there are so many victims. You too are one. It sounds as though, as is often the case, you are a victim of the lies which are perpetrated to defend the indefensible.

    On behalf of all who were spared abuse at the hands of Rene Poirier, I thank you. We will never know how many more young people in the Hearst Diocese might have been molested by this priest had it not been for you. Please try to take comfort in that.

    You say the bishop phoned you. I assume that was Bishop Despatie? What did he say to you?

    Also, do you by chance know what happened to Poirier? Was he defrocked? Did he leave the country? Did he die? There is no record of him in the Catholic directories after 1995.

    A final note. I was called shortly after Poirier’s conviction and told it was all a lie and that he should never have been convicted and that I should never publicize the conviction. The man who called me was the son of Poirier’s lawyer.

  3. Gérard Lalonde says:

    Hi Sylvia: a few years after these events, Father Poirier died ( I cannot find the real cause of his death).With regard to bishop Despatie, he blamed me for going to the police( I testified to that effect in a civil lawsuit launched by the family of one victim). The bishop also threatened a nun who was working at the rectory in Chapleau and was also a teacher at the elementary level.When my grade 12 students asked for my help with regard to Father Poirier, she confirmed to me that Father Poirier had been treated at least three times in the past, but always claimed he did not have any problems.
    Gérard Lalonde

  4. denislbeland says:

    I would like to know if this Fr.Lalonde has middle name Augustine.Bishop Roger Despatie is from Hanmer,now part of the City of Sudbury.Fr.Veilleux was the priest at La Paroisse Sacre Coeur until Fr. Poirier arrived circa the early 80’s,whom was there until around 1990.The smear on others is recalled without detail.The accusations of impropriety goes well beyond what was reported to the police at the time.I say this as fact.Get a load of this-Before parishioners had arrived before Sunday mass,often Fr.Poirier could be found lying face down in front of the altar in a position akin to our Saviour on the cross.

    • Gérard Lalonde says:

      Father Poirier also said to the parishioners that he was the greatest sinner of the parish during homely.
      This sordid story starts when he was a missionnary in the Philippines. When father Poirier arrived in Chapleau he was accompanied by a few Philippinos who never said a word during the trials. One of them finally spoke after and indicated that the number of persons Father Poirier abused in the Philippines was staggering( that is why he had to leave his position there) The Philippinos did not help us because they felt they owed him their presence in Canada.
      No, I do not use such a middle name. Gérard Lalonde

  5. Guylaine Poirier Girardin says:

    M. Lalonde
    I am the niece of father René Poirier. I would like to reply to your comments. First of all, René Poirier died of a heart attack in January of 2006, not a few years after this incident. When he died, he was the Archbishop of the Caribbean in the Greek Orthodox church. He spent his life helping others, from rebuilding native reserves in Northern Ontario to bringing water and medicine to poor villages across the world. He lived with his people, in deplorable conditions helping these people find hope by teaching them about faith. He touched many people, and saved many lives! As for the Philippinos that he brought back from the Philippines who would not speak during the trial, were you aware that they were refugees and were saved by my uncle. One was burned by his government and barely escaped with his life. These 2 young men are only one of many examples of people who were saved by my uncle. These 2 men, along with many others over the years were invited into our homes and accepted into our family. I will not comment on his legal conviction, since he served his time in prison as sentenced. Our family was torn apart by these allegations, and whether his friends and family believed he was innocent or not, we were able to come together and get closure by forgiving… none of us were there when these incidents supposedly occurred, and neither were you. It is between him and God as to what actually transpired. Either way, he was convicted and served his time. As for the other allegations you are writing about in your comments, these are all hearsay, and you are slandering a man who has died and cannot defend himself. The only people you are hurting with these comments are his family. We are also innocent in this situation. I said goodbye to my beloved uncle in 2006, and do not appreciate you tarnishing my memories of him. Until the day he died I loved René Poirier very much and so did many people all around the globe. I even named my son after him, who was born within weeks of his death. My hope is that one day my son will also be a selfless loving man devoted to helping others, as was his great-uncle René. Stumbling upon this website and your comments have hurt me very much. I forgave my uncle for whatever happened or didn’t happen years ago, and believe that maybe you should try and do the same. You seem to still be very troubled by these events that happened so many years ago, and I believe that by forgiving him you may be able to move on with your life. Whether or not you can do this, I ask you to please stop spreading these unfounded stories so that my uncle may rest in peace, and we may remember him for the kind loving man he was!!!

    Guylaine Girardin

  6. 1yellowknife says:

    Madame Giradin: Please accept that there are individuals who do not view your uncle as favourably as you do. After bringing forward his student’s report of abuse by your uncle, Mr. Lalonde describes a HUGE NEGATIVE impact on his life, as a direct result. In fact, he states he was threatened by your uncle. I respect Mr. Lalonde for his courage. Others probably do too. Suggesting the truth (about the abuse) is unclear and others need to forgive your uncle because you did (although you admit to no wrongdoing on his part) is downright silly. You state: a) He did nothing wrong; b) But I forgive him anyhow; c) And so should you. That is a Houdini-like rationale. No one has to do what you did.

    • brother Jzues says:

      I have no respect for your comments to this woman. You are a sinner yourself. And look how you attack this woman. Seems much narcissism and ignorance in this world. I do not believe man was created by god. I believe god is created from the ignorance and poison of man kind. Yes there are good people out there. But it is not the men preaching it. That includes you sir.

      Look at our justice system… Cops, judges, political figures(you vote for) committing sex crimes.

  7. MikeMc says:

    Mrs Girardin,
    I feel for your hurt and pain. Not only have the abused been hurt but their families too!! …as well the abusers’ families. It’s a tough pain to handle.
    But to be in denial about this is like the Church was at one time. Bishops just pushed priests out of one community and into another hoping the problem would go away after a month or two in places like Southdown or in the states.
    As you can see for your uncle, the problem did not go away. I’ve no doubt he helped many along his road, but you must accept the fact that he abused many along his road of life too. It was not only perverse but criminal. If you run away from this or try to deny it, then you have been a victim as well. Even in his death, he has power over you. That’s not good.
    T’is not for me to judge his afterlife. But for the present day…. for those abused by your uncle…. it (the pain and suffering) still exists and they need help. It may just start off with an apology from your Uncle’s family, even if they are victims themselves of his tarnishing you family reputation.

  8. Sylvia says:

    Guylaine Girardin,

    I am, quite frankly, shocked to read that your uncle, a know and convicted molester, rose to the rank of Archbishop within the Greek Catholic church.

    I have two questions which I hope you will answer: (1) When and why did Father Poirier join the Greek Catholic Church? (2) Did officials in the Greek Catholic Church know that he was a convicted molester?

    As for your love for your uncle, that is perhaps understandable, but please, through love for him, don’t try to minimize his abhorrent sins and crimes, in so doing you cause more pain and anguish for his victims who still live with the scars inflicted upn them by your uncle.

    All I can say is that by the grace of God your son, named as he is after his Uncle Rene, will never in his life be subjected to the wiles and perversions of a Father Rene Poirier.

    Finally, perhaps rather than publicly berate those who had the courage to expose the sins and crimes of Father Poirier and have him brought to justice, and rather than minimize the magnitude of his offences, you would do well to quietly pray for all those who suffered at your uncle’s hands?

  9. Gérard Lalonde says:

    *To Whom It May Concern: Yes, I was aware of what happened to those Philipinnos.But they did not help us by their silence during the trials, and by speaking only after the ordeal this community went through: what he did in the Philippines according to them was a long string of sexual abuse of people who were vulnerable. 

    And by the way, yes I have forgiven him for sexualy abusing  different teenagers in Chapleau. Four to my knowledge. And it is only years later when bishop Despatie was condemned for sending a sick priest in our community that the magnitude of the cover-up was revealed. He was sent to Affirmation House in Boston twice and Ottawa and Montreal for therapy which he never completed. Father Poirier did  good things, and had charisma, lots of it but was a very sick man .

    The purpose of my intervention was not to cause you pain, but I react because for quite a few years ( not now since they were caught) the catholic church kept lying to the population in Chapleau.  Shortly before bishop Despaties died he attributed his cancer to Father Poirier. Of course, he was wrong: it was his guilt that did him. There is no point for me to add more, because I know a lot more and again, I have forgiven Father Poirier: I look at him at a sick man.


  10. Mike says:

         “Unfounded stories”???  Have I missed something here?   Mike

  11. Baspuit says:

    Can a Con-artist do great deeds and be liked? Don’t/Aren’t they all! The question is for what reason!  Sorry all the good he did, does not equal one victims abuses!

    • brother Jzues says:

      Its 2014.. Shut your mouths. You are all sinners with skeletons in your closets. Tyrants and fools. Look at yourselves… your brothers, sisters, parents, children. I guarantee you have evil in your souls. Perhaps he was mentally Ill or this “one man” participated willingly in the act “labelled” “assault”…. Reguardless.

      Its 2014.. Whatever happened happened.. He was found guilty.. more than 20 years ago.

      Hurting his family is equally evil, if not more.

  12. Sylvia says:

    brother J, you said: “he [Poirier] was found guilty.” Very true. In other words, the court did NOT rule that the victim was a willing participant in the abuse. To the contrary. Thanks to the courage of the victim who spoke up we know that “Father” Poirier is a clerical sexual predator who preys on trusting youth.

    Yes, it’s 2014. And in 1991 Rene Poirier was convicted. The time lapse does not change the facts.

  13. Joanne Boyle says:

    Wow , I cannot believe there are some that would minimize or deny Rene Poirier’s guilt. Personally, I still lay much of what happened here at the feet of the Church that knew of his predeliction for perversion, and acted as though it never happened . That being said, I do not think these people understand the lifelong devastation Poirier left in his trail. They should not be made to feel that they are doing something wrong by speaking of their pain.

  14. C says:

    Bunch of rapists..probably even .including the ones sticking up for this piece of shit

  15. Micheline says:

    To Mr. Lalonde, former teacher of mine, I would say the following.

    What Rene Poirier has done to these boys, and to others whom we will never know of, was sickening. Rene himself would not admit to his sins. There was no helping this man.

    I’m glad he is gone. Sadly to say he was not the only one who has changed peoples lives. There are so many other priests before him and probably others after him with the same mindset.

    In today’s world some rather turn a blind eye, or if they don’t talk about it, it would just go away.

    I was born and raised in Chapleau. At the time I was around when Rene Poirier was the towns priest. As a single mom, I was young but not stupid nor naive of what was going on. As soon as I had my suspicions of what was happening I stopped attending church. One guards and protect their child from the possibility of the touch of Pure Evil.

    So many boys that are sexually abused in turn let such a violent act latter on define who they are, what they perceive as having sex with a person of the same gender as natural. That’s when the sickness lives on 🙁

    Mr. Lalonde even after all these years gone by I just want to say thank you for doing what was right. I know at the time it ruined your reputation and for that I’m truly sorry.

    • Gérard Lalonde says:

      Thanks for your kind words Micheline. These incidents sure divided the community at the time. René Poirier was a very charimastic man, and I recognize that he did a lot of good, but he was quite sick, and ruined the life of many young students.I am now retired, and find it difficult to forget these facts since not a week goes by without a new story of sexual abuse commited by a priest, and dishonest bishops covering up as well as they can as was the case with bishop Despatie.

      • Micheline Morin says:

        I find it also next to impossible to forget what this priest has done. I’m not a very trusting person and how could anyone blame me for being this way now. My eyes are wide open.

        Now and again a good person comes along, someone with morals, values and integrity, such as yourself Gerald.

        After my husband passed away I made the decision to also retire. Keeping my life and uncomplicated.

        I always say to myself that it’s okay to look back at the past and reflect, but just don’t stare at it too long.

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