Pornbacher: Paul Pornbacher

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Italian-born priest.  Immigrated to Canada 1971 – priest in the Diocse of Nelson, British Columbia. It seems he was molesting shortly after his arrival in the Nelson Diocese.  Left the priesthood in 1978.  1994 GUILTY plea to sex abuse of three boys.  Before start of civil trial in 1997 recanted his guilty plea.


1996: Reasons for Judgment – civil trial (The Honourable Madam Justice Quijan0)l this was an important ruling it. It held the Diocese of Nelson vicariously liable for the damages inflicted on a victim of clerical sexual abuse. The ruling overturned the  Nova Scotia Court of Appeals’ decision in  F.W.M. v. Mombourquette.

07 January 1994:  Pornbacher declaration of mistrial denied


 Bishops of Nelson, BC from time of Pornbacher’s arrival until civil trial: Wilfrid Emmett Doyle (09 November 1958 – 06 November 1989); Peter Joseph Mallon (06 November 1989 – 09 June 1995 when appointed, Archbishop of Regina, Saskatchewan); Eugene Jerome Cooney (15 March 1996 – 30 November 2007)


The following information is drawn from the Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, media (M) and legal documents (L) and personal (p)

2019:  Pornbacher continues to live with the  the woman with whom he took up a relationship many many years ago, claiming to parishioners in those early days that she was his niece from Poland who was studying to be a nun. (P)

1996:  civil trial.  Victim  awarded $220,000 in damages.  (The Diocese planned to appeal.  I don’t believe the appeal succeeded but am not certain of that)

June 1994:  Sentenced to 18 months in jail (M)

February 1994:  GUILTY  to indecent assault of three altar boys  between 1973 and 1976, when he served as a parish priest in Nelson, Kelowna and Invermere. The boys were age 11 to 13.  A stay of proceedings was entered on three other counts of gross indecency. (M)

04 January 1994:  Pornbacher’s new lawyer asked for a mistrial.  Denied. (Pornbacher declaration oif mistrial denied)

10 October 1993: Defence withdrew.  Adjourned to 31 January 1994 with instructions for Pornbacher to find a new lawyer

07 October 1993:  Trial started

27-28 July 2002:  Preliminary hearing.  Committed to trial on all counts

November 1991:  charged with indecently assaulting an 11-year-old Kelowna altar boy in 1975, Kelowna RCMP said.

1986-1987:  Pastor, Christ the King Roman Catholic Church, Oliver, British Columbia (A Brief History of Christ the King Parish [adapted from 2003 compilation by former parishioner Elizabeth Minns] Christ the King Parish, Oliver BC wesbite )  Did he or id he not leave the priesthood in 1978?




1978left the priesthood.  Entered into a common-law relationship (M) (Pornbacher is not listed in the CCCD’s to which I have access from 1985 on)

According to “‘Vile and disgusting’ sex abuse brings ex-priest 18-month term,”  (25 June 1994, Vancouver Sun), B.C. Supreme Court Justice Raymond Cooper “said Pornbacher ceased to be a priest in 1978 and soon after entered into a common-law relationship with a woman, who has stood by him”

Post-’75:  Invermere (M)

1975Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Kelowna, British Columbia.  (M & L) Pastor at Immaculate Conception was Father McCarty (L)

sexually abusing young boy at St. Joseph’s School

1973-74:  index lists him at St. Francis of Assissi R C Church, Revelstoke, BC (Pastor Father Corradin sc)

1971-72not listed (CCCD)

1971Immigrated from Italy.  Began serving in Diocese of Nelson, BC (M) (He would have been around 35-years-of-age at the time of his arrival in Canada.  What brought him to Canada I wonder? and specifically to the Diocese of Nelson?)


Ex-bishop and church appeal\ legal rulings

Ottawa Citizen

15 February 1997

Greg Joyce

The former bishop of Nelson, B.C., and the Roman Catholic Church are appealing a precedent-setting ruling that found them liable for a priest’s sexual assault on an altar boy.

Wayne Kaskiw was an 11-year-old in  Kelowna  when he was sexually assaulted in 1975 by Paul Pornbacher, a parish priest in the diocese of Nelson.

Kaskiw disclosed the assaults 16 years later and Pornbacher was convicted and sentenced to 18 months. Kaskiw then sued Pornbacher, now an ex-priest, and the Catholic Church, through the former bishop of Nelson, Emmett Doyle.

In a recent B.C. Supreme Court decision, the judge awarded Kaskiw $210,000 in damages from the priest and the church, plus an additional $20,000 in punitive damages against Pornbacher.

Lawyer Ken McEwan, representing the bishop and church, has filed an appeal. He said he will focus on the damage award and the finding that the bishop and church were liable for the priest’s actions. Pornbacher is not appealing.

Liability is an unsettling issue for the church and poses interesting legal questions, say lawyers and legal experts.

Can a bishop as representative of the church be held liable for a priest’s actions? Can the church be negligent and liable and have to pay damages for a priest’s behavior?

“Whether (the church) was liable for what the priest did is the question of vicarious liability,” says Diane Tourell, the lawyer who represented Kaskiw.

“Basically, what it means is, if you’re a bouncer and you work in a nightclub and you turf a patron down the stairs and he breaks his neck, the nightclub owner is liable for what you do because you’re an employee.”

The B.C. decision was “definitely a precedent in B.C., the finding of vicarious liability in the context of the Catholic Church,” Tourell said.

But there have been liability decisions in other provinces, including one similar to Pornbacher that involved a priest and altar boy inNova Scotia.

Halifax  lawyer Michael LeBlanc says he expects to hear soon whether the Supreme Court of Canada will hear his case, which also focuses on the church’s liability.

The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal late last year overturned a finding of that the church was liable for the sexual assault of an altar boy by Rev. Jim Mombourquette.

The B.C. Supreme Court judge cited the case in her rulings.

But she rejected theNova Scotia appeal court reasons, siding instead with the trial judge’s finding of liability on the church’s part.

“Clearly, it’s polarized, depending on which court you go to, as to how the courts are looking at this,” said LeBlanc.

He said the  Nova Scotia  appeal court ruled the church can’t be held responsible when one of its priests “acts criminally and totally contrary to the religious tenets which he has sworn to uphold.”

The B.C. Supreme Court, however, ruled that “the tenets of the church and the vows related to them do not define the scope of employment but only the modes of behavior expected by the church of a priest in carrying out his role as a representative of the church.”

The Pornbacher ruling was among several cases LeBlanc cited in his submission to  Canada’s highest court as reasons why it should hear theNova Scotiacase.

“There are many (civil) claims under way right now” across the country, said LeBlanc.

Michel Theriault, a canon law professor atSt. Paul  University  in  Ottawa, sees a vital role for the Supreme Court and the issue of liability.

“It will help in that it will establish a set of interpretations that the (lower) courts will abide by,” said Theriault, although each case before it will be addressed on its own merits. 


Abused child’s taken enough

Vancouver  Province

14 February 1997

Joey Thompson

So the Catholic Church doesn’t want to pay $220,000 in damages to a Nelson choir  boy sexually abused by one of its priests.

Catholic officials have decided to appeal the court award on the grounds that convicted priest Paul Pornbacher wasn’t a church employee and wasn’t really working when he took the kid to the pool and played with him.

Give me a break.

In the East Coast fishing village where I grew up, the church expected priests to be part of family and community life; it came with the territory.

The church is trying to wimp out instead of doing the Christian thing; taking responsibility for the boy’s emotional woes.

As if the child hadn’t been through enough; first the horrific abuse, then the trauma of testifying at a preliminary hearing, a criminal trial, pre-civil trial hearings, a civil trial and now a costly appeal.

Catholic officials are always telling followers to confess their sins and beg God’s forgiveness. It’s time to practise what they preach.

Melt down a few gold goblets from the cache at the  Vatican  and beg forgiveness from the scores of children whose lives were wrecked by Catholic priests.

It’s the Christian thing to do. 


A very Protestant defence: the diocese of Nelson argues its pedophile priest worked for the laity (Paul Pornbacher)

Alberta ReportEdmonton

03 February 1997

By the time he was 27, Wayne Kaskiw’s life was pretty much a “wash-out,” as his lawyer puts it.

Although he came from a good Catholic family inKelowna, he had dropped out of school in Grade 10, sniffed glue and gasoline, and attempted suicide by driving his aunt’s car over a cliff. Later, he tried a little factory work, a little bar-bouncing, some construction labour and a lot of drinking. His brushes with the law were equally dreary: small-scale marijuana trafficking, vandalism, and petty theft. Then one day in 1991, Mr. Kaskiw told someone that he had been sexually assaulted by a priest in 1975, when he was 11. This disclosure was followed by a visit to the police, two years of investigation, the coming forward of two more victims, and a trial.

In 1994, Father Paul Pornbacher, then 62, pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual assault and received an 18-month jail sentence. But Mr. Kaskiw was not finished. Chucking his legal anonymity, he sued Fr. Pornbacher and his superior, the Bishop of Nelson, for pain, suffering and loss of earnings.

On January 9, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Georgina Quijano found both the priest and his superior, the Bishop of Nelson, liable for $210,000 damages.

According to testimony at the earlier criminal trial, Fr. Pornbacher accosted the 11-year-old Kaskiw twice in his church rectory, putting his hands down the boy’s pants and fondling his genitals while rubbing “for several minutes” against his buttocks. On a third occasion, at a swimming party with some other boys, Fr. Pornbacher again fondled him. From that time forward,Wayne’s academic performance and social behaviour both nose- dived. Shortly before the civil trial began, how- ever, Fr. Pornbacher recanted his earlier guilty plea and his professions of responsibility made to prison psychologists during his 12-month incarceration.

“I have never denied that an indecent assault could have taken place, but I am innocent,” says Fr. Pornbacher. “I only entered a guilty plea because it had gone on for so long, and I was spiritually, emotionally, and financially exhausted.”

The priest had immigrated to the Nelson diocese from Italy in 1971. He served in  Kelowna  from mid-1974 to early 1975, after which he was assigned permanently to a parish in Invermre.

When the sexual assault charges arose in 1992, he was suspended from his priestly duties.

Father Pornbacher does not know whether he will still continue to receive a pension from his diocese. His recanting of his guilty plea resulted in an additional $20,000 judgment against him from Madam Justice Quijano as punitive damages.

The strangest part of the lawsuit may have been the defence employed by the counsel for the Bishop of Nelson. Vancouver lawyers Ken and Mark McEwan argued that the Roman Catholic Church is a purely voluntary organization, and that while the priests and their bishop administer the financial contributions of the laity, the priest’s employer–if he has one–is actually his parish. In short, Madam Justice Quijano summarized, the “Bishop of Nelson” argued that “the Roman Catholic Church does not exist as an entity and is not represented by the Bishop of Nelson.”

The judge was unimpressed. “It is clear that the church is a single entity, governed ultimately by theVatican,” she asserted.

Indeed, even the defence’s own canon law expert, Father Francis Morrisey of  Ottawa’s  St. Paul  University, is nonplussed by that defence argument. “A congregation is not their priest’s employer, and the bishop is essentially the chief executive officer of his diocese,” he says.

Though the press declared the judgement “a victory over the Roman Catholic Church,” Mr. Kaskiw’s lawyer, Barbara Yates ofVictoria, has a more measured opinion.

“TheVatican  wasn’t a party to the suit, so the judgement wasn’t against the whole church,” she says. “This was simply a judgement against a negligent employer, the bishop.”

–Joe Woodard


Sex victim breaks his silence

Vancouver  Province

12 January 1997

Suzy Hamilton, special to the Province

NELSON — Wayne Kaskiw has lived in hell for 22 years — ever since former priest Paul Pornbacher sexually assaulted him when he was 11 years old.

Now Kaskiw, who wanted his name published, is speaking out to help other victims.

“If people don’t speak up, then it’s never heard,” said Kaskiw. “It’s about what’s right.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but still I’d do it over again. Until you deal with it, it’s always going to be there.”

Kaskiw, a trainee undertaker, works with the dead, but said he’s unable to conduct services because of his ugly experience with the Catholic Church.

He says he began his civil suit with revenge in mind.

“To me, it was about the money. It was going to be my revenge.

“But after the first day of the trial, it became more than that. It was about one of the other victims, who died last year in a snowmobile accident. This was a small victory for him and others who have suffered as I have.”

He credits court worker Nancy Wylie and his mother Helen for giving him the strength to go through the civil trial after a preliminary and a criminal trial.

“I still believe in a God,” he said, reflecting on organized religion. “But my God doesn’t have a cash-flow problem.”


Pervert priest, church ordered to pay damage

Vancouver  Province

12 January 1997

Suzy Hamilton, special to the Province

NELSON — A former altar boy who was sexually assaulted by Invermere priest Paul Pornbacher has been awarded $230,000 in damages from the priest and the Catholic Church.

“This is the first time the courts (in B.C.) have found the church is liable for the sexual conduct of the priests,” said  Victoria  lawyer Diane Tourell, who with co-counsel Barbara Yates won the award for Wayne Kaskiw, 33, ofVictoria.

“It’s a real David-and-Goliath story. A former altar boy taking on the entire church — and he won.”

Pornbacher, 63, no longer a practising priest, pleaded guilty in 1994 to abusing three boys in the 1970s when they were 10, 11 and 12. After serving 12 months of an 18-month term, he returned to Invermere to live with his common-law wife. He’s a landed immigrant whomCanadais trying to deport.

In her reasons for judgment, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Georgina Quijano said that Pornbacher scarred Kaskiw, and that Nelson diocese head Emmett Doyle and the Catholic Church were negligent in not trying to prevent him:

“It is apparent, although he denied it, that Bishop Doyle, the bishop of Nelson at the relevant time, had been aware since in or about 1970 that at least two, and possible three, of the priests in his diocese had been sexually inappropriate with children in their parish.”

Doyle, now in his 80s and living in Edmonton, responded by providing counselling or moving the priests, she said.

“There is no evidence that any steps were taken by the church or the bishop to attempt to prevent further similar problems occurring until 1987, when the Canadian Council of Bishops set out policy guidelines.”

Quijano said it was “foreseeable” that if nothing was done there would be more abuse.

Pornbacher is one of eight Catholic priests convicted of sex offences in the Nelson diocese in the past 10 years. A ninth priest died before trial.

Lawyers Mark McEwan and Kenneth McEwan said the Catholic Church was not liable for Pornbacher’s acts, because it is a voluntary association of members sharing a religion.

But Quijano dismissed their arguments that the church was not Pornbacher’s employer and that the sex acts were not committed within the scope of his employment.

“Part of a priest’s duty is to look after all parishioners, including children. In fact, priests are to encourage activities within the church that will involve children.”

She ordered Pornbacher to pay punitive damages of $20,000 and the church to pay $211,750 for pain and suffering and loss of earnings.



`Vile and disgusting’ sex abuse brings ex-priest 18-month term

The  Vancouver  Sun

25 June 1994

The scenic beauty of the Kootenays has been tarnished by the prevalence of perverts in the area, a Nelson prosecutor told a court Friday in  Vancouver.

Dana Urban referred to the high incidence of child molestation in the Kootenays when he urged a judge to sentence a former Roman Catholic priest to two years less a day in prison.

Paul Pornbacher, 61, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting three altar boys between 1973 and 1976, when he served as a parish priest in Nelson,Kelownaand Invermere. The boys were age 11 to 13.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Raymond Cooper, describing the former priest’s conduct as “vile and disgusting,” sentenced Pornbacher to 18 months in prison.

The judge recommended that Pornbacher serve his term at Stave Lake Institution, where he can undergo a 12-step treatment program for sex offenders.

Cooper said Pornbacher, on his release, must serve a three-year term of probation, during which he must not be alone with children under the age of 16.

Cooper said Pornbacher ceased to be a priest in 1978 and soon after entered into a common-law relationship with a woman, who has stood by him.

The judge was critical of comments in which Pornbacher, speaking to a psychiatrist, appeared to blame the Catholic Church’s celibacy rule for his conduct.

Pornbacher’s lawyer, Chris Considine, who asked for a sentence of no more than one year, asked the judge to consider the offender’s age and his remorse, and the fact the offences occurred almost 20 years ago.

Urban, saying the complainants suffered emotional pain as a result of the priest’s conduct, said courts in the Kootenays have been inundated in the past seven years by sexual crimes against children.

He said school janitors, teachers, doctors, dentists, lawyers, Big Brothers and priests have been charged in such cases.

“So much of this has occurred that when we travel outside the Kootenays, we are not asked about the scenery, we are asked why we have so many perverts,” the prosecutor said.

He said the prevalence of such cases in the area is due in large part to the courage of complainants in coming forward.


Former priest to face sex charges

Vancouver  Sun

07 March 1994

NELSON — A former priest in the Nelson diocese arrested in
Toronto last week was transported back to the West Kootenay
community of about 8,000 people Sunday to face sex charges from up
to 25 years ago.

Kenneth Farrell, 66, was a priest in the Nelson diocese from 1967
to 1982. Five charges surround alleged offences that include
buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault on matters arising in
Nelson and  Kelowna during Farrell’s time in the Nelson diocese.

Farrell was an associate pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Cranbrook
from 1967 to 1971 when he moved to Nelson as the rector of the
Cathedral of Mary Immaculate.

He moved to Kelownain 1972 and served in the positions of pastor
and associate pastor at various churches until he left the diocese.

He left the diocese in 1982 to seek treatment for alcoholism.

Farrell was a counsellor at a half-way house for alcoholic reform
at the time of his arrest inToronto.

He is expected to appear in Nelson provincial court for a first
appearance and bail hearing Tuesday.

Kenneth Farrell was the ninth priest to be charged for crimes in
the Nelson diocese in recent years. Seven were convicted. The eighth
died awaiting trial.

Earlier this year, Paul Pornbacher was convicted of three counts of
indecent assault in Kelowna, Invermere and Nelson. Sentencing is
expected in June.

Police are continuing their investigation into charges against


Canadian Press

07 February 1994


A former Roman Catholic priest pleaded guilty Monday to indecently assaulting three former altar boys in the Okanagan and West Kootenay  in the mid-1970s.

A stay of proceedings has been entered on three other counts of gross indecency against Paul Pornbacher, 60.

Pornbacher will be sentenced inVancouveron June 24.

Until then he has been released on conditions.

These include not being alone with children under 16 years of age without another adult present and having no contact with the victims.

Crown prosecutor Dana Urban said the victims are relieved with the decision because it means they won’t be called on to testify again.

Defence lawyer Chris Considine said Pornbacher deeply regrets what has taken place and hopes the complainants can resume their normal lives.


Priest created `hell’: Sexual abuse caused man to have himself sterilized


28 October 1993

Suzy Hamilton

NELSON — He was so horrified at being sexually abused as a child that he had himself sterilized to prevent the same thing from happening to kids of his own.

That’s what an anguished man testified yesterday at the B.C. Supreme Court jury trial of retired Catholic priest Paul Pornbacher.

“He made my life a living hell,” said the man, now 30, breaking into tears on the witness stand.

“I’ll never be a dad,” he said, his voice breaking. “If somebody abused my kid, I’d probably kill him . . . I have a hatred for child abusers. I’m not prepared to put myself or my family through this.”

Pornbacher, 60, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of indecent assault and three counts of gross indecency involving three boys. The Crown alleges the acts occurred inKelowna, Invermere andCampLourdesnear Nelson between 1975 and 1988, when Pornbacher was a parish priest.

The man said the abuse was the catalyst for a life of suicide attempts, failure at school, drug abuse, crime and poverty.

“I’ve paid for this so many times,” testified the man, who can’t be identified. “It’s time somebody else paid.”

As a 14-year-old, the man said he drove a car over a 45-metre (150-foot) embankment in a failed suicide attempt.

“When I opened the door I was really angry because I was still alive,” he said.

The man said Pornbacher abused him three times, starting when he was an 11-year-old altar boy.

“He said it was our secret,” he said. “That I should never tell anyone because no one would believe me.”

In 1988 the man said his faith was somewhat restored when he heard a young priest named Kevin Rolston speak at a graduation ceremony.

Soon after he learned Rolston had been charged with gross indecency, shattering any faith he had left.

“I just couldn’t keep this inside any more,” he told the jury.

The trial continues.


Sex charges against priest

Vancouver  Sun

08 April 1992

NELSON – Paul Pornbacher, a 59-year-old Roman Catholic priest from Nelson, has been charged with sex crimes against young boys.

Crown officials said Pornbacher is the eighth Roman Catholic priest in the Nelson diocese to be charged with sex crimes in the past three years.

Pornbacher faces two counts of gross indecency and two of indecent assault.


Roman Catholic priest charged with indecent assault on boy

Vancouver  Sun

02 November 1991

Roman Catholic priest Paul Pornbacher, 58, has been charged with indecently assaulting an 11-year-old  Kelowna  altar boy in 1975, Kelowna RCMP said.

Pornbacher – one of more than a dozen Catholic priests who have been charged with sexual offences in B.C. – served as priest at Immaculate Conception Church in  Kelowna  at the time of the alleged incident.

He has also worked at churches in Revelstoke, Fernie and Invermere.


5 Responses to Pornbacher: Paul Pornbacher

  1. Sylvia says:

    What would have brought an Italian priest, around the age of 37, to Canada in 1971? And why to the Diocese of Nelson, British Columbia? Was he in trouble in Italy? He was molesting shortly after his arrival so, were that the case, it wouldn’t come as a great surprise, would it?

  2. Sonni McLaren says:

    *I am now retired and living in Gatineau Quebec. I am a victim of a number of Priests in British Columbia in the 70’s and 80’s.  One in particular Rev. Father Ken Farrell.  I went to him for help for a place to sleep in Cranbrook at St. Mary’s.  He gave my friend and I a motel room and arranged for food at the cafe. Later that night he showed up at our room with beer and whiskey and the assault took place.  I was summoned by him many times later, in Cranbrook, Rutland and he even came to Montreal to visit me one time.  I also had encounters with Bishop O’Connor in Prince George and Father Ian Cooper also of the nelson diocese.  These encounters have never been discussed with anyone til this writing because of the fear and pain they created within. I would like to hear from anyone that can discuss this with me. Thanks 

  3. Sylvia says:

    I have sent you my phone number Sonni.  You can call me at any time. 

  4. Sylvia says:

    Sonni, I linked the names to pages and in the process realized that I do not have Father Kenneth Farrell on the Accused list.  I am working on that now.

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