‘It ruined my life,’ victim of pedophile priest says

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Former archbishop Gervais knew of transgressions: court documents

 Ottawa Citizen

10 April 2010

By Jennifer Green 

 

In the spring of 1982, everyone in the tiny Polish settlement of Wilno, west of Ottawa, felt nothing but sympathy when the mother of their favourite priest passed away.

The deeply Catholic community looked up to Bernard Prince, who had grown up in the town and was ordained there in 1963.

So when the cleric asked one of the Wilno youths to serve as altar boy at the funeral, and then keep him company at his apartment two hours east in Ottawa, the 14-year-old was honoured. “He could have asked anyone and he asked me to help him through this mourning period.”

Twenty-four hours later, the boy’s life was in ruins.

The priest had sexually assaulted him, leaving him with a shame that would metastasize into alcoholism and an inability to form relationships with anyone, male or female.

“It ruined my life,” said Tom, whose full name is under a publication ban. “It changed my life to this day.”

It would be more than 25 years before Prince would be defrocked and convicted on 13 counts of sexual and indecent assault. In 2008, he began a four-year jail term in British Columbia.

Civil proceedings are under way as 16 men sue the diocese of Pembroke for millions of dollars, among them the now-grown man who, as a boy, believed he was offering comfort. Six have already settled.

Prince also targeted Tom’s younger brother, but “I didn’t know until police started asking questions. I told him that I was going to come forward, and he said, ‘well if you’re going to be strong enough to do it, then I’ll do it as well.’ ”

Now 42, Tom says his life might have been very different had he had counselling after the incident. Of course, it never happened.

“Because (Prince) was so respected in the community, back in the ’80s, if I had mentioned a word to anybody, including my parents, they would have believed him over me,” he said Friday.

“For years and years after, I couldn’t tell anybody because I was ashamed. I just couldn’t say anything. It was terrible. I lived a terrible life.”

Court documents in Pembroke show that even

Ottawa’s former archbishop, Marcel Gervais, knew about Prince’s transgressions.

In 1993, the Vatican awarded Prince a high-ranking post in Rome, thereby “removing him from the Canadian scene,” according to J. R. Windle, then bishop in Pembroke.

In a letter to Rome’s representative in Ottawa, Windle warned that outraged victims of Prince’s “untoward behaviour” might go to the police demanding justice, should they hear the priest had been given any honours or promotions.

The letter, dated, Feb. 10, 1993, said: “All of the bishops of Ontario who are aware of this situation (and there are several) would most certainly agree with my assessment in this regard. They include Archbishop Ambrozic, Archbishop Spence, Archbishop Wilhelm, Archbishop Gervais, Bishop O’Mara, and Bishop Tonnos, since each of them was involved directly or indirectly with Fr. Prince.”

Gervais was also serving as head of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops that year.

Robert Talach, with the LeDroit Beckett law firm in London, Ont., represents Prince’s victims. He said his clients want parishioners to force some change. They want good priests to take a stand, breaking ranks with the abusers and acknowledging that the scandals are tarring the reputation of the entire church.

As reports flood in from the United States, Ireland, Germany and Norway, the Vatican has been rocked to its foundations. Some have called for the Pope’s resignation, or even his arrest. Not only are lay people outraged at the assaults, they are dismayed at how the church has made every effort to shield offending clergy.

Will this wide-reaching scandal finally change the church? Talach, who has been working on clergy sex abuse cases since 2002, says, “Sometimes I get hopeful, but then I’m always disappointed. There is definitely some peripheral, surface change. They’ve got better at image control; there is a little more of the PR campaign. But behind the curtain, it’s still business as usual.”

Tom, for his part, still has bouts of depression, but he has beaten his dependence on alcohol and has been able to get his life back on track, thanks to the Men’s Project, trauma counselling offered at Ottawa’s YMCA. At 39, he had his first relationship with a woman, and now they are married. After 25 years, he finally opened up about the assault, telling his father first and then his future wife.

Despite it all, Tom says he would consider going back to the Catholic Church, if it would just come clean.

Gervais did not return phone calls Friday, and the archdiocese had no comment except to say the case involved the Pembroke diocese and the Vatican, not Ottawa.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
****

Altar boy’s life derailed by priest’s sexual assault

 Regina Leader Post
 
10 April 2010
By Jennifer Green, Canwest News Service 

 

In the spring of 1982, everyone in the tiny Polish settlement of Wilno, west of Ottawa, felt nothing but sympathy when the mother of their favourite priest died.

The deeply Catholic community looked up to Bernard Prince, who had grown up in the town and was ordained there in 1963.

So when the cleric asked one of the Wilno youths to serve as altar boy at the funeral, and then keep him company at his apartment two hours east in Ottawa, the 14-year-old boy was honoured.

Twenty-four hours later, the boy’s life was in ruins. The priest had sexually assaulted him, leaving him with a shame that would metastasize into alcoholism and an inability to form any relationships with anyone, male or female.

“It ruined my life,” said Tom, whose full name is under a publication ban.

It would be more than 25 years before Prince would be defrocked and convicted on 13 counts of sexual and indecent assault. In 2008, he began a four-year jail term in British Columbia. Civil proceedings are underway as 16 men sue the diocese of Pembroke for millions. Six have already settled.

Now 42, Tom says his life might have been very different had he received counselling after the incident.

“Because (Prince) was so respected in the community, back in the ’80s, if I had mentioned a word to anybody, including my parents, they would have believed him over me,” he said Friday.

“For years and years after, I couldn’t tell anybody because I was ashamed. I just couldn’t say anything. It was terrible. I lived a terrible life.”

Court documents in Pembroke show that even Ottawa’s former archbishop, Marcel Gervais, knew about Prince’s transgressions.

In 1993, the Vatican awarded Prince a high-ranking post in Rome, thereby “removing him from the Canadian scene,” according to J. R. Windle, then bishop in Pembroke.

In a letter that year to Rome’s representative in Ottawa, Windle warned that outraged victims of Prince’s “untoward behaviour” might go to the police demanding justice, should they hear the priest had been given any honours or promotions.

Robert Talach, with the LeDroit Beckett law firm in London, Ont., is representing Prince’s victims. He said his clients want parishioners to stand up and force some change. They want good priests to take a stand, too, breaking ranks with the abusers and acknowledging that the scandals are tarring the reputation of the entire church.

As reports flood in from the United States, Ireland, Germany and Norway, the Vatican has been rocked to its foundations. Some have called for the pope’s resignation, or even his arrest. Not only are lay people outraged at the assaults, they are dismayed at how the church has made every effort to shield offending clergy.

Tom, for his part, still has bouts of depression, but he has beaten his dependence on alcohol and has been able to get his life back on track, thanks to the Men’s Project — trauma counselling offered at Ottawa’s YMCA. At 39, he had his first relationship with a woman, and they are now married. After 25 years, he finally opened up about the assault, telling his father first and then his future wife.

Despite it all, Tom says he would consider going back to the Catholic Church, if it would just come clean.

Ottawa Citizen

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

1 Response to ‘It ruined my life,’ victim of pedophile priest says

  1. os says:

    For the victims of this crime I would like to say that,yes, the time is near that all trauma, all tears will be takn away, leaving bliss and joy. So hang in there just a little while more and you will be free.

    The k.church was evil from the start and it is inherent in this church of lies and murder for all this to happen. If people really studied its history from the time of Jesus onward they would be aghast . Crime and murder, lies and disregard for Jesus is the crime of almost 2000years of horror and genocide. Read not what the church offers: find the real account; it is available. os

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