Quebec priest pleads guilty to sexual assault charges, asks for forgiveness

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Vancouver Sun

 11 July 2011 

By Marianne White, Postmedia News

 
Priest Raymond Marie Lavoie asked his victims for forgiveness Monday after pleading guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault involving 13 boys.
 

Priest Raymond Marie Lavoie asked his victims for forgiveness Monday after pleading guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault involving 13 boys.

Photograph by: Clement Allard, For Postmedia News

QUEBEC — A Quebec priest asked his victims for forgiveness and mercy Monday after pleading guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault involving 13 boys who attended a private Catholic school in the 1970s and 80s.

But the apology provided little relief to one of the victims, who had told court earlier his actions decades ago amounted to dropping a “dirty bomb” in his life that forever scarred him.

Raymond-Marie Lavoie, 71, was a teacher at Seminaire St. Alphonse, in Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre, just outside Quebec City, when the assaults allegedly took place.

“I want to express my profound sadness to you all for the unfortunate gesture that I did several years ago,” Lavoie told the court Monday morning.

He added he slipped on a “dangerous slope” and lamented he didn’t find the wisdom to put an end to it earlier.

“I’m totally devastated,” Lavoie said in a statement read calmly.

Some of his victims were in the courtroom, including the first man who pressed charges against Lavoie in 2008.

The man, who has asked the court to be identified, is Frank Tremblay, who was 12 at the time of the events.

Tremblay read an emotional victim’s impact statement Monday after Lavoie pleaded guilty to a total of 21 counts of sexual assaults, indecent assault and gross indecency on him and 12 other young men.

“You were having a little fun, but did you ever wonder what you did to me?” Tremblay said, looking at Lavoie. “You destroyed the little boy inside of me and ever since I have been living with shame and fear.”

France Bedard, president of an association for victims of abuse by priests, dismissed Lavoie’s apology as an attempt to protect the institution of the Catholic Church.

“It was empty, not sincere. He only expressed one regret and it’s that his behaviour sullied the reputation of his congregation,” she said.

Lavoie’s victims were all boarders at the college in the 1970s and 1980s and were between the ages of 12 and 15 at the time.

Lavoie was a teacher at the seminary and oversaw the dormitory. According to the facts presented in court by the Crown prosecutor Monday, most the sexual crimes were committed in Lavoie’s room, next to the dormitory, or in the victims’ bed.

Tremblay told the court Lavoie dropped an everlasting “dirty bomb” in his life when he first raped him.

The man, now in his 40s, told reporters outside the courtroom his testimony took some weight off his shoulders but the battle is not over. Tremblay launched a class-action against Lavoie and is seeking $750,000 for himself and dozen other alleged victims.

Lavoie was first arrested in December 2009 and his trial was set to start Monday morning at the Quebec City courthouse but instead he pleaded guilty.

Another of his victims testified Monday the sexual assaults led him to abuse alcohol and drugs, on top of seriously preventing him from maintaining healthy relationships.

“He was like a father to me,” said the man who cannot be identified, adding that he lost confidence in people in authority after the assaults.

Crown prosecutor Carmen Rioux cited the fact Lavoie was a figure of authority and assaulted a high number of young boys over a long period of time as aggravating circumstances.

“They were boarders, sleeping at the college during the week. They should have felt safe in that place, not in danger,” she said.

Lavoie will undergo a pre-sentencing examination and will be back on Oct. 28. Lavoie is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years of prison.

The class-action lawsuit filed by Tremblay alleges that up to five priests were involved in the systematic abuse of young boys between 1960 and 1987 at the Seminaire St. Alphonse.

Another priest from the seminary, Jean-Claude Bergeron, is facing charges of committing lewd acts against three students at the school in 1979.

The suit was authorized by the Quebec Superior Court last November. The school, ran by a group of missionary priests, closed in 2001.

Among other allegations, the document says the priests “consulted with one another and conspired in an effort to determine which students they would abuse, and divided (the victims) up amongst themselves.”

Lavoie has been suspended by the Church pending the outcome of his case. The congregation declined to comment on Lavoie’s guilty plea Monday.

mwhite@postmedia.com 

Twitter.com/whitma

11 Responses to Quebec priest pleads guilty to sexual assault charges, asks for forgiveness

  1. proudsurvivor says:

    “I want to express my profound sadness to you all for the unfortunate gesture that I did several years ago,” Lavoie told the court Monday morning.

    He added he slipped on a “dangerous slope” and lamented he didn’t find the wisdom to put an end to it earlier.

    “I’m totally devastated,” Lavoie said in a statement read calmly.

    Now clearly here’s a man who is repentant! Really, the “unfortunate gesture”??? It was an “unfortunate gesture” when you sexually assaulted all these boys over a period of years. That was just an unfortunate gesture that caused you to slip down a dangerous slope that you an educated priest, educated in ethics and theology, didn’t have the wisdom to stop! If you hadn’t destroyed the life of these men, your statements would be completely laughable. Thank goodness, that these courageous men had the wisdom to come forward! And you’re “devastated”! Once again, the narcissm of the offender is evident! Do you give any thought to the countless lives you have destroyed both directly and indirectly!
    My thoughts are with all the men and their families who came forward through this difficult process to see justice served. Thank you!

  2. Larry Green says:

    What kind of monster would be the like to inflict unfortunate gestures on little boys. Nothing worse in the universe than an unfortunate gesture. How can anyone ever expext to receive forgiveness for commiting the heinous act of unfortunate gesturing? I wonder how unfortunate gestures differ from fortunate gestures. I’m sure for this ruthless pig who showed no mercy for his young prey the GESTURES were seen as very fortunate ones at the time of gesturing. They have become unfortunate gestures because they have ceased to be a cause of pleasure for IT!!!

  3. Larry Green says:

    Hopefully he does ten years and lives for ten years.Even if he does five and lives for five.Either way, before justice can be said to be restored , all the pleasure he has gained from using these human beings must now be replaced with all the suffering by them. He spent so much of his time talking about heaven and now he is going to become very familiar with hell.All because of unfortunate gestures.

  4. John Mac Donald says:

    Lavoie’s quote……”I’m totally devastated.”
    Meaning of devastated……-verb (used with object) 1. to lay waste, render desolate
    2. to overwhelm
    Meaning of desolate…..adjective 1. barren or laid waste; devastated
    2. deprieved or destitute of inhabitants
    3. solitary; lonely

    My question…………………….He’s devastated? When did he start to feel devastated?
    I heard a joke one time about being born again. One prisoner was talking with another prisoner and says “I found God”. The other prisoner says “When did you find God?” He says “Right after they found me.”

    John

  5. Bobbie Bees says:

    Sylvia, when does this stuff ever end?
    Will there ever be an end to priests diddling children?
    Will the church ever admit that it has a major malfunction going on?

    And yeah John, isn’t it funny how these guys always seem to ‘find the path to righteousness’ not when they’re spoiling the fruit but only after they’ve been caught.

  6. milly says:

    How can these so called Priests retain their Title…….never more should they be referred to as Father or Priest. Strip then of their Office, and then they become Mr Surname, nothing more .

  7. jon smith says:

    Milly

    Many dioceses are doing exactly that and “booting” these guys out of the priesthood.
    This is what is necessary, as they should not really have been in the priesthood in the first place. I have heard that the seminaries have been doing some psychological screening for some time, and recently are doing even more. Maybe this will help keep these guys out of the priesthood. Unfortunately, that does not “cure” these guys and they will still be living in our neighbourhoods!

  8. Sylvia says:

    You are right jon smith – keeping them out or giving them the “boot” won’t cure them, but what it will do is ensure that there will no known molesters in the priesthood. That’s important because it would restore the sanctity of the priesthood and go a long way to conveying the message that sexual abuse is such a heinous crime and sin that clerical predators will absolutely not be tolerated in the priesthood.

    Then the problem becomes what to do about them living in our neighbourhoods? Perhaps if the Church would start to set the standard – as I believe she should – our judiciary and law enforcement agencies and so would follow suit? No more little ‘bad boy’ taps on the back of the hand. No more molly-coddling. No more cudos for a plea-bargained guilty plea after a life-time of ruining the lives of the young and innocent.

    But, yes, for starters, let’s keep them out and get them out.

  9. Larry Green says:

    Having a catholic church free of molesting clergy for sure would be an ideal place Sylvia but realistically un-attainable. There are many fundamental reasons to account for it’s attractiveness to pedophiles and unless these are addressed and dealt with in a realistic and responsible manner the problem will continue to grow. We should always remain encouraged by the good things people like yourself do and that work must continue always. However, as the attitude of the church is to maintain the status quo – cover up and enable- , we will forever be in the process of “purging” , much like trying to keep flies away from a field full of cow manure.

  10. Sylvia says:

    And that’s all I’m asking Larry, is that ‘the problem’ be dealt with in a realistic manner. I think it is totally realistic to ensure that – as far as is humanly possible – there are no known molesters int he priesthood.

    Yes, of course there will be those who mange to get ordained, but, they should be few and far between if the seminaries do a better job of vetting. And, for those who do get ordained and then get ‘caught’ – out they go. And meanwhile, defrock those who are already known to Church authorities as sexual predators.

    I know it will be only be accomplished with those who are more than willing to tolerate the presence of these wolves in sheep’s clothing kicking and screaming all the way, but, it is doable. Le them kick and scream. Eventually the day will come when the numbers of predatory clergy diminish and a climate of common sense and genuine concern for the salvation of souls is restored.

    I think it will also require co-operation from law enforcement, i.e., charge those who obstruct justice to protect these criminals, but that too I believe is a realistic expectation. It’s started to happen in the States. And, I believe, those who are convicted should follow the route of the predators: out of the priesthood: defrocked.

    It will become increasingly difficult to maintain the status quo when those who have worked so diligently to maintain it are either out of the priesthood or behind bars

    It won’t happen overnight. I don’t have rose-coloured glasses. But, I believe Larry it’s doable. If we want to keep the flies away, get rid of the manure, one painstaking shovel-full at a time.

  11. Larry Green says:

    Sylvia, Your’e perseverence and optimism are extraordinary!

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