Slattery: Father Francis Slattery

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James Francis Slattery

J. Francis Slattery

Priest, Archdiocese of St. John’s Newfoundland.  Ordained 1961 May 1989 committed to stand trial on one count of gross indecency.  Outcome of charges unknown.  (The complainant also had charges laid against Fathers  Anthony Bennett and Edward Leo Sutton.  The former entered a guilty plea.  The latter was acquitted)

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Archbishops of St. John’s during Father Sutton’s tenure:  Patrick James Skinner (January 1951-April 1979) ; Alphonsus Penney (April 1979-February 1991); James MacDonald(February 1991-December 2000); Brendan O’Brien (December 2000 – June 2007); Martin Currie  (October 2007- )

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The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Directories (CCCD) which i have on hand, and media (M).

2012:  St. John’s Archdiocese website lists him as Chaplain at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital

2011, 2010:  address on Hazelwood Cr., St. John’s Newfoundland.  (CCCD)  Phone number (709-745-5781) for St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital/Miller Center

2002, 2000, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1992:  address St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, St. John’s Newfoundland (Pastor Father James Doody)

1991: address for diocesan centre (CCCD)

1989:  trial set

1988: Pastor, Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, St. John’s Newfoundland (M)

1985-1986:  Pastor, Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, St. John’s Newfoundland (CCCD)

237 January 1989:  charged with one count of gross indecency (M) the complainant alleged abuse by Fathers James Francis Slattery, Edward Leo Sutton and Anthony Patrick Bennett (M)

1970-1974:  Pastor St. John Bosco Roman Catholic Church. St. John’s, Newfoundland (online Archives Canada)

1973-74, 1971-72:  Pastor, St. John Bosco Roman Catholic Church. St. John’s, Newfoundland (CCCD)

1968-69, 1967:  address St. Michael’s Presbytery, Bell Island, Conception Bay, Newfoundland (Pastor Father Eric R. Lawlor) (Father Lorne Whalen, a native of Bell Island, would have been around 11 years of age when Slattery arrived at St. Michael’s)

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Court dates set in Nfld. sex charges

Toronto Sun

07 September 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Trial dates have been set for a Roman Catholic priest and a former priest charged with gross indecency against a young boy. Rev. Edward Leo Sutton, 44, will be tried Nov. 2 and Anthony Patrick Bennett, 32, on Oct. 10. Rev. James Francis Slattery, charged with gross indecency involving the same boy, was remanded to Dec. 1. In Goose Bay, former priest Leonard Paradis, 41, was remanded to Nov. 17 for preliminary hearing on five charges of sexually abusing boys in Labrador.

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Trial dates set for Newfoundland priests

The Ottawa Citizen

06 September 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) — Trial dates were set Tuesday in Newfoundand Supreme Court for a Roman Catholic priest and a former priest charged with sex-related offences against a young boy.

Rev. Edward Leo Sutton will go to trial Nov. 2 on charges of gross indecency. The 44-year-old native of Allan’s Island on the south coast pleaded not guilty and elected trial in Supreme Court by judge alone.

The charges arise from alleged incidents between January 1981 and January 1982. His lawyer said the trial is expected to take two days.

Former priest Anthony Patrick Bennett, 32, will go to trial Oct. 10 on a charge of gross indecency. A second charge was withdrawn by the Crown.

Bennett, a native of Ireland, was an associate priest at a St. John’s parish and parish priest in Witless Bay.

Meanwhile, the arraignment of another priest was postponed Tuesday. Rev. James Francis Slattery was ordered to reappear in court Dec. 1. A former parish priest in St. John’s, Slattery is charged with one count of gross indecency.

The charges against all three men involve the same complainant.

They are among 18 members of the Catholic community who have been convicted or charged within the last 1 1/2 years with sex-related offences against teenage boys.

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Two Roman Catholic priests face gross indecency charges

The Vancouver Sun

02 May 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Two Roman Catholic priests were committed Monday to stand trial, each on a charge of gross indecency.

Rev. Edward Leo Sutton, 44, and Rev. James Francis Slattery, 51, each elected trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court by a judge without a jury.

Both men were charged in January and involve the same complainant, now a 28-year-old man.

The offence Sutton is charged with is alleged to have occurred between January 1981, and January 1982.

Sutton, who used to be in charge of recruiting priests in the area around St. John’s, is now stationed in the southwestern Newfoundland village of Flat Bay.

The offence Slattery is charged with is alleged to have occurred between January 1978 and January 1981. Slattery is parish priest at Corpus Christi Parish in St. John’s.

Judge Joseph Woodrow closed the court to the public and the media Monday and ordered a publication ban on the name of the complainant.

Sutton and Slattery will appear in Newfoundland Supreme Court next month to have trial dates set.

In the last two years in Newfoundland, six priests, two former priests, a priest’s close friend and six members of Christian Brothers – a Catholic teaching order that runs an orphanage in St. John’s – have been charged with sexual offences against boys.

Credit: CANADIAN PRESS

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Priests ordered to stand trial

The Montreal Gazette

02 May 1989

ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Two Roman Catholic priests were committed yesterday to stand trial, each on a charge of gross indecency.

Rev. Edward Leo Sutton, 44, and Rev. James Francis Slattery, 51, elected trial in Newfoundland Supreme Court by a judge and no jury.

Both men were charged in January and involve the same complainant, now a 28-year-old man.

The offence Sutton is charged with is alleged to have occurred between January 1981, and January 1982.

Sutton, who used to be in charge of recruiting priests in the area around St. John’s, is now stationed in the southwestern village of Flat Bay.

The offence Slattery is charged with is alleged to have occurred between January 1978 and January 1981. Slattery is parish priest at Corpus Christi Parish in St. John’s.

In the last two years in Newfoundland, six priests, two former priests, a priest’s close friend and six members of Christian Brothers have been charged with sexual offences against boys.

Credit: CP

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Newfoundland Catholics still in shock

The Calgary Herald

11 February 1989

Julian Beltrame, Southam News

PORTUGAL COVE, Nfld. – What is hardest to take is that the very church they turned to for comfort should have so wounded and abandoned them.

In this sleepy fishing village – the epicentre of a series of sex scandals involving priests and prepubescent altar boys – they still ask why.

It started with Father Jim Hickey, the spiritual leader of this deeply religious community, the right-hand man to Archbishop Alphonsus Penney and the head of youth throughout the province. Hickey also served as director of communications for the Newfoundland Church.

On Sept. 30, Newfoundlanders learned their best-loved and best-known priest had been molesting young altar boys for at least 18 years. He was sentenced to five years after pleading guilty to 20 counts of sexual assault and gross indecency.

If the Hickey bombshell shook the Church, it was a mild tremor compared to what followed.

In December, Father John Corrigan was sentenced to five years on seven counts of sexual assault and gross indecency. Then on Jan. 27, two more priests – Francis Slattery, 51, and Edward Sutton, 43, were charged with gross indecency. Three days later, provincial police charged Anthony Bennett, 33, a former priest, with gross indecency allegedly committed while he was a parish priest.

“Who’s next?” is the question asked in every corner of the province.

That’s the question one mother asks when she isn’t asking if it is really possible for this to have happened in little Portugal Cove.

Deep in her heart she knows it happened. Not just to this village on the outskirts of St. John’s, but to her son.

“I guess now you know my son was one of the boys who testified,” she blurts out in the middle of an interview. She smiles sadly when she recalls her friendship with Father Hickey.

“I loved that man so much,” she says. “I loved that man so much that when he was transferred to Ferryland (about 100 kilometres away) two years ago, I visited him.”

Her eyes glisten when she talks about her son, who was befriended by Hickey eight years ago when he was 12. She does not cry, however. She is through with tears, she says.

“For seven years I lived with a child, I didn’t know what was wrong with him. I took him to psychologists, doctors. He kept it inside him up until the thing broke and he told me. He told me he was reliving the nightmare all over again.”

She recalls her son among 20 in a St. John’s courtroom preparing to testify and her face stiffens. She knows she is supposed to forgive, but it isn’t in her.

“If they had left us (parents) alone with him, we’d have torn him to pieces. It’s an awful thing for a Christian to say, but it’s the truth.”

Another Portugal Cove mother tells a similar story of betrayal. Her son had appeared depressed, she remembers, and she asked Father Hickey to take him under his wing.

“What hurts is that when I found out, I was almost accusing my son of setting Father Hickey up. Imagine, I was capable of thinking that about my son.”

To these mothers and many Catholics in Newfoundland, the Church’s reaction following the ugly revelations is almost as difficult to comprehend as the behavior of the priests they trusted.

Archishop Penney called a news conference in St. John’s in November to say that “as the wounds inflicted by the criminal acts of James Hickey were beginning to heal, I profoundly regret” that another priest, Corrigan, had been charged.

Then silence. Penney has retreated behind the stone walls of the imposing Roman Catholic basilica, whose twin towers look down on St. John’s from on high. Penney did not return calls from Southam News this week and he has turned down other media requests.

Worse still, says Bonnie Boland, an active Catholic who says her faith in the Church hierarchy has been shattered, is that Penney wrote letters to corporate sponsors of the Rising Tide theatrical troupe requesting they withdraw financial backing because of a satirical skit about Hickey.

“My God, the Church had a far stronger reaction to a tiny little play on stage than to the abuse of children by its own priests.

“Can you imagine the monumental arrogance? Something is warped there,” she says, shaking her head.

The silence has also given rise to a deafening chorus of rumors.

That more priests are about to be charged – something police deny. However, police denied similar rumors before the last round of charges. That there exists a cabal of pedophiliac priests who shared altar boys. That Penney and others should have suspected because the original complaint against Hickey came from a priest Hickey had molested years before, and because this is nothing new to the Newfoundland Church.

In 1978, police investigated alleged sexual abuse by brothers at the Catholic Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s. One was convicted and three brothers were transferred out of Newfoundland. And from 1979-1987, five other priests from parishes throughout the province have been convicted of molesting young boys.

“If Penney knew, then he’s in trouble. He has an obligation in law to report suspected child abuse,” says Father Kevin Molloy. During the past two weeks, Molloy has taken it upon himself to speak out for the church and this week, Penney appointed him official spokesman.

Molloy, Hickey’s replacement in Portugal Cove, talks of forgiveness and understanding for the guilty priests as well as the victims, although even he admits he finds it difficult not to lash out in anger.

“The immediate reaction is anger, apprehension, disgust. But we’ve got to go on. It should never have happened, but it did.”

He asks the faithful to distinguish the Church from individual priests, stressing “that we’re not the offenders . . . there are priests that have offended.”

Finally, he is asked the question on everyone’s lips. What if there are more charges?

“I say, if there are 10 more priests, get them. But I tell you that prospect is frightening. I don’t know if the Church can take another shock right now.”

No matter what happens, many Catholics here believe the Church has suffered a fatal blow.

Patrick O’Flaherty, a Catholic and social commentator who writes weekly for a St. John’s newspaper, says the Church has lost moral authority and will never regain the power it held over its flock.

“What’s happened is a savage assault on a very traditional, long-established religion by its own clergy. The effects have been devastating . . . people are shocked to their bootstraps,” he says.

“I think the Church will survive, but it will be a diminished Church. I think this will definitely mark a turning point in the position of the Church in Newfoundland.”

Ironically, it may have been the Church’s pre-eminence that contributed to its abuses.

Susan McConnell, who has counselled many of the victims at the Anderson Adolescent Treatment Centre in St. John’s, says the position of priests makes it more plausible that abuse could have gone on undetected for years.

“When you make mortal people in society something sacrosanct, when you say one group of people have power, you are laying the groundwork for abuse,” she explains.

McConnell stressed that people who say they don’t understand why the boys did not speak up sooner don’t realize the guilt abused children feel and their fear that they won’t be believed. Add to the equation that successful pedophiles are “really clever people,” and detection becomes the exception, not the norm.

“They just don’t go up and accost children,” she says. “They start out by building a trusting relationship. They get you to really like them, they pay attention to you.

“When it happens, the child believes the pedophile feels as bad as he does. And if he doesn’t say something the first time, then he’s trapped. He can’t say anything the second time.”

Molloy admits the Church is as traumatized as its flock, not knowing what it can do to right the wrongs or help the victims.

It has recently created a committee of clergy and lay people to deal with the crisis and to offer counselling to victims and families. So far, none has approached him for help.

Nor should the Church expect the victims to come back, says Andre Guidon.

The Ottawa-area priest headed an inquiry on priests’ sexual practices for a local diocese two years ago after two Ottawa and Cornwall, Ont., priests faced similar charges. He says it is unlikely victims will return to the very institution that assaulted them.

Facing up to pederasty among priests proved too difficult even for the commission, however. Guidon admits that because the commission’s findings were to be made public, it skirted the question in a survey of sexual practices among priests.

“We felt we wouldn’t get an answer,” he said. “Rather, we asked if their sexual behavior conformed to their vows and we found only one in 50 priests who said they strayed.”

Guidon concedes celibacy is a major concern in the Church but he doubts it is a factor in what he calls the exceptional situation in Newfoundland. Statistics show most incidents of child abuse occur in families, he said.

The families of the estimated hundreds of Newfoundlanders directly hurt by the sex scandals have had to find their own ways of coping. They say their faith may survive but they doubt they’ll ever return to the Church they once loved.

“I’ve tried going back,” said the mother of one Father Hickey’s victims. “I see the altar boys and a feeling of hate comes into my heart. It leaves a very empty space in your life.”

(Beltrame is Atlantic correspondent for Southam News.)

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