Brother Harold Thorne
Harold Richard Thorne
the boys at Mount Cashel called him “Rock” Thorn (this apparently because, as one of victims testified, he was known to be a rough character)
Christian Brother – member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. 1991 CONVICTED – sentenced to 6 years in prison. Other charges in 1993 and 1994 – outcome unknown.
Thorne was himself a Mount Cashel boy: After his father’s death Thorne was raised at Mount Cashel orphanage where his mother worked.
Worked as a caretaker at Mount Cashel in the 60s and early 70s
The following information is drawn from media (M) and Province Newsletter, Edmund Rice Christian Brothers of North America: A Province of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, October 2009 (CB)
2009: living in Mansfield, Ontario (CB) (Edmund House Community, a Christian Brothers facility, is located in Mansfield, Ontario)
celebrated his jubilee in 1959 – 50 years of service to the Congregation of Christian Brothers
August 1994: in court on charge related to allegations of sex abuse of boy at Moutn Cashel in 1956 (M)
May 1993: charge of indecent assault of boy at Mount Cashel in 1973 laid (M)
May (?) 1991: Sentenced to six years in prison (M)
17 May 1991: CONVICTED two counts of gross indecency and one each of indecent assault and buggery (M)
May 1991: sex abuse trial – facing two counts of gross indecency and one each of indecent assault and buggery (M)
1989: charged (M)
teaching at a junior high school in St. John’s Newfoundland (M) (it seems he was initially working at Mount Cashel as a caretaker and then became a teacher? is that correct?)
1975: one victim testified at trial that he had been interviewed by police in 1975. (M) That was the investigation which was shut down after a deal was struck between the Christian Brothers and a representative of the provincial government
1960s & 1970s: working at Mount Cashel Orphanage (M)
1959: became a member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers (CB)
Mount Cashel Problems Resurface
02 August 1994
The Mount Cashel orphanage may be gone, but complaints of sexual abuse inside its walls continue to surface in Newfoundland courtrooms. Yesterday, Christian Brother Harold Thorne was back in provincial court on a charge of indecently assaulting a former resident of the home for boys in St. John’s.
Thorne, 54, a caretaker at the orphanage in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was sentenced in June 1991 to six years in prison for sexually assaulting four former Mount Cashel residents.
A 34-year-old man testified yesterday that Thorne came to his bedside one night in 1968 and fondled him. The complainant, whose name is banned from publication, said he was placed in the orphanage after his parents separated. He said he often ran away from the institution because he was picked on by other boys and because of sexual touching by some Christian Brothers. He said he developed a “buddy-type” relationship with Thorne the first few months he was at Mount Cashel and helped him with duties such as carrying wood or organizing sports teams. He said Thorne came to his bedside one night with a candy treat. “He put his hand down inside my pajamas,” the witness said. “He was the guy I trusted.”
Defence lawyer John McGrath asked the complainant why another former Mount Cashel resident has said the complainant told him he was never sexually abused at the orphanage. “If I did, I was lying,” the man replied.
More charges laid against two Mount Cashel brothers
16 May 1993
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Police have laid more charges against two Christian Brothers currently serving prison terms for sexually abusing boys at the former Mount Cashel Orphanage in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The charges, stemming from alleged incidents at the orphanage in 1967-68 and in 1975, include buggery, indecent assaults and committing acts of gross indecency against one former resident; and two counts of indecently assaulting another young boy.
Allan Ralph, 48, is to appear in Ontario Court, provincial division, May 20 to face five sex-related charges. Ralph was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to 10 counts of indecent assault and one of gross indecency against 10 boys in the orphanage.
Harold Richard Thorne, 53, is to appear June 30 to face one charge of committing indecent assault on a resident in 1973. Thorne was sentenced in 1991 to six years for convictions on two counts of gross indecency, one of buggery and one of indecent assault against four former residents.
Former Christian Brother is found guilty of abusing four boys in ’70s
The Montreal Gazette
29 June 1991
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. – Former Christian Brother Joseph Burke was found guilty yesterday on four counts of abusing young boys atMountCashel orphanage in the 1970s.
Burke, 42, a burly, red-haired man, began to shake with anger and dismay as Justice Margaret Cameron read her verdict.
The Vancouver teacher had faced eight charges involving four boys but was found guilty on just three of indecent assault and one of assault causing bodily harm.
“The simple fact is that citizens who lead exemplary lives for years may still commit crimes,” said Cameron, who is to sentence Burke on Tuesday.
Defence lawyer Brian Casey failed in an early bid to have all the charges against Burke dropped because it took so long to lay them. He also argued that publicity surrounding the scandal at theSt. John’sorphanage would prevent a fair trial.
During the trial – by judge alone – Casey relied on evidence from colleagues, doctors and some former residents of Mount Cashel who painted Burke as a caring, intelligent man who showed no signs of perversion.
Other residents, including the victims, remembered harsh beatings and frequent sexual abuse.
Burke is the third man to go to trial for abusing boys at the orphanage. Stephen Rooney, of New Denver, B.C., and Harold Thorne, of St. John’s, were each sentenced to six years in prison last month for sex-related offences.
The scandal erupted more than two years ago. Five other men have trials scheduled over the next several months.
Second Christian Brother gets 6 years for sex abuse
The Windsor Star
04 June 1991
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Another man convicted of sexually abusing boys at the Mount Cashel orphanage was sentenced Monday, to six years in prison.
Harold Thorne, 51, a member of the Christian Brothers, was convicted last month of molesting four residents of the St. John’s home between 1971 and 1977. “These boys had to live with the knowledge that a sexual assault could come at any time,” said Justice Robert Wells of Newfoundland Supreme Court.
“Such constant apprehension must have been a nightmare.”
Thorne, a small, ruddy-faced man with greying hair, stood quietly in court while the verdict was delivered.
He was sentenced on two counts of gross indecency and one each of indecent assault and buggery. He will be eligible to apply for day parole after serving one-sixth of his sentence and for full parole after serving one-third.
One victim testified during the two-week trial that Thorne committed buggery on him; another said he was fondled once.
TheSt. John’sresident is the second of eight current or former members of the Roman Catholic lay order to go to trial on sex-related offences.
Former brother Stephen Rooney, 38, was also sentenced to six years in prison last month after a jury convicted him on six of 10 charges.
Richard Pelley, 41, of St. John’s, a neighbor of the orphanage and not a Christian Brother, is serving one year on three convictions involving orphanage residents.
The trial of another man, former brother Joseph Burke, is scheduled to begin Wednesday by judge alone after his lawyer failed to have the case dismissed.
Lawyer Brian Casey argued last week that pretrial publicity – including a nine-month public inquiry into the sex scandal that was broadcast on a local cable television channel – would make a fair trial impossible.
His application for a stay of proceedings on that basis was dismissed Monday by the Supreme Court.
But the court has yet to rule on whether the case should be thrown out because it took so long to lay charges, said Casey. A decision is to be released Wednesday.
In a related case, a temporary ban on sales of a book written by former orphanage resident Dereck O’Brien has been extended until all the trials are finished.
Justice officials were worried that Suffer Little Children, released last month, would prejudice jurors. It will not be sold on the Avalon Peninsula – which includes most ofNewfoundland’s population, includingSt. John’s- but is available elsewhere in the province.
Five other men are scheduled to go to court on sex charges over the next several months.
The Christian Brothers ran the century-old orphanage until it closed last summer.
Police first investigated complaints from residents in 1975 but the probe was quashed just days after it began and no charges were laid. Another investigation was launched in February 1989 after a former resident went public with allegations.
TheMountCashelcases are part of a larger scandal in which more than 20 priests, brothers and other Roman Catholic officials inNewfoundlandhave been charged with sexual and physical abuse since early 1988.
Thorne’s crimes should be considered more serious than those of parish priests who have been convicted, said the judge, because the brothers were in total control of the boys.
His penalty is stiffer than those handed three priests in the last couple of years, including former community leader James Hickey, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 1988 for 20 sex-related offences against altar boys.
Crown seeks 32-year term for brother
The Windsor Star
28 May 1991
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – The Crown has asked for a 32-year sentence for Christian Brother Harold Thorne, convicted of four sex charges.
In arguing for the sentence, Crown prosecutor Cathy Knox said Monday that Thorne was in a position of “absolute trust and absolute power” over four boys he assaulted at Mount Cashel orphanage during the 1970s.
“The boys were captive at Mount Cashel,” she said. “They were totally helpless. They had no place to go.”
Thorne, 51, of St. John’s, was convicted May 17 on two counts of gross indecency and one each of buggery and indecent assault against residents of the St. John’s orphanage.
Knox called for sentences of eight years on each of the four counts, to run consecutively.
Justice Robert Wells will sentence Thorne on Monday. Defence lawyer John McGrath argued for a total sentence of four or five years.
“The Crown asked for a severe sentence solely because my client is a Christian Brother,” he said. “I have no difficulty in accepting a period of incarceration and certainly a federal term (two years of more), but let’s put it in the proper perspective.”
McGrath cited what he viewed as two worse cases in recent years, when two priests – Rev. James Hickey and Rev. John Corrigan – were each sentenced to five years after being convicted on many more sex-related charges.
“Brother Thorne is aware of the fact he owes a debt to society and is prepared to pay that debt,” McGrath said.
The lawyer pointed out that Thorne himself was a Mount Cashel boy. He was raised there after his father died; his mother worked at the orphanage.
He said his client had made a bad mistake in an otherwise outstanding career and is prepared to pay the penalty.
Thorne is second to be convicted by a Newfoundland Supreme Court jury of sexual abuse of boys at the orphanage, which was closed last year.
Former brother Stephen Rooney, 38, of New Denver, B.C., was sentenced last week to six years after he was convicted on six of 10 charges.
Christian Brother guilty of abuse 51-year-old sexually assaulted four boys at Nfld. orphanage
The Toronto Star
18 May 1991
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Christian Brother Harold Thorne was convicted yesterday of sexually abusing four boys at theMountCashelorphanage in the 1970s.
Thorne, 51, ofSt. John’swas found guilty of two counts of gross indecency and one each of indecent assault and buggery.
One victim testified during the two-week trial that Thorne committed buggery on him; another said he was fondled once. Two others said Thorne placed his penis between their legs on several occasions and masturbated.
Eight current or former brothers have been charged with sex- related offences. Of that group, Thorne was the second to be convicted in a widespread scandal that surfaced more than two years ago, prompting a police investigation and a nine-month public inquiry.
The Roman Catholic lay order ran the century-oldSt. John’shome until it closed last year.
Former brother Stephen Rooney, 38, of New Denver, B.C., was convicted May 1 of abusing two 8-year-olds at the orphanage 14 years ago.
He faced a sentencing hearing yesterday on three counts of gross indecency, two of attempted buggery and one of indecent assault. The hearing will continue Wednesday.
Maximum sentences on each conviction range from five to 14 years.
“I had 14 years stolen from me,” one victim told the court. “I’d like to see Mr. Rooney get at least that for his crimes.”
The man, now 22, said he blocked out the abuse until the trial date approached this year and he is now having problems parenting his infant daughter and maintaining relationships.
“A month before the trial I tried to commit suicide. I felt so alone. My family and friends avoid me. They see me as some kind of misfit I guess.”
The two victims cannot be identified under an order from Justice William Adams.
The other man said the abuse has made him suicidal and unable to function.
“I hibernate from everything and go into my own little world,” he testified. “I tend to drink, to get drunk, to hide the pain. I have thoughts of suicide, thoughts of killing other people and I still have difficulty sleeping at night.”
Throughout his trial, Rooney has maintained his case was one of mistaken identity.
Trials for the other six men are to take place over the next several months.
The eight were charged after a 1975 police investigation into sex abuse complaints was reopened in February, 1989. The original investigation was quashed just a few days after it began. No charges were laid at the time.
The Mount Cashel cases are part of a larger scandal in which more than 20 priests, brothers and other members of Newfoundland’s Catholic community have been charged or convicted since early 1988 of sexually abusing boys.
Court cleared in Mt. Cashel case
The Toronto Star
15 May 1991
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Spectators were cleared from a courtroom yesterday as a witness testified about being sexually assaulted by Christian Brother Harold Thorne at the Mount Cashel orphanage.
The complainant, the last of four to testify, said he was sexually assaulted three times by Thorne when he was 12 or 13 years old.
Thorne, 51, of St. John’s, faces two counts of gross indecency and one each of indecent assault and buggery.
The court was closed after the witness told Justice Robert Wells and a jury of eight women and four men that it would be too difficult for him to testify with the public and members of the news media present.
Reporters were later allowed to listen to tape recordings of his evidence.
The witness said one assault took place at the orphanage while the other two occurred while selling raffle tickets on Water St.in downtown St. John’s.
The man – now 31 and married with a young son – said he moved to Mount Cashel with his two brothers in 1967 after his parents divorced and his mother became ill. He was seven years old.
The complainant said he was originally interviewed by police during a 1975 investigation that did not result in charges.
He told the jury he went to police in February, 1989, after the case was reopened because he knew police had his name on file and he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of having them show up at his home or office.
The three other complainants took the stand Monday.
One said Thorne committed buggery on him.
Another spoke of his hatred for Thorne after the brother allegedly put his hands inside his pants and rubbed his penis.
At one point in his testimony, the witness was cautioned by Wells to control his bitterness and anger after he used a profanity to describe how he felt about Thorne.
The third complainant said Thorne forced himself on him several times over six months to a year.
Thorne is one of eight current or former Christian Brothers charged with sexual and physical abuse of boys at Mount Cashel during the 1970s.
Three witnesses say Thorne abused them
The Windsor Star
14 May 1991
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – A witness at the trial of Christian Brother Harold Thorne told court Monday the two shared a mutual hatred after Thorne sexually assaulted him.
The witness, one of four complainants, said he was talking to Thorne in the Mount Cashel orphanage workshop when the brother grabbed him, put his hands inside his pants and fondled him.
The witness said he squirmed away from Thorne’s grasp and ran out of the room. Thorne, he said, laughed.
“I hated him and he knew it and he hated me and I knew it,” the man testified.
At one point in his testimony, the witness was cautioned by Justice Robert Wells to control his bitterness and anger after he used a profanity to describe how he felt about Thorne.
Later, Crown prosecutor Cathy Knox asked him to identify the man sitting in the prisoner’s box.
“How do you know that is the man?” said Knox.
“I won’t forget,” said the witness. “From the day I went into Mount Cashel to the day I left, that man hated me with such a passion.”
Thorne, 51, of St. John’s, faces two counts of gross indecency and one each of indecent assault and buggery.
Three of four complainants against Thorne took the stand Monday. Two told of being sexually assaulted once; the third said he was abused about a dozen times. The abuse allegedly took place in the 1970s.
One witness, now 30, said he was 12 or 13 when Thorne first forced himself on him. Thorne continued the abuse over six to 12 months, the witness said.
The man, married and the father of three children, said Thorne was a rough character known to the boys at Mount Cashel as “Rock” Thorne.
Newfoundland teacher faces sex assault charge
15 March 1989
ST. JOHN’S, Nfld. (CP) – Another member of Newfoundland’s Roman Catholic community has been charged with sexual assault against a young boy.
Harold Richard Thorne, 49, a member of a teaching order, was charged in provincial court following the reopening of an investigation into sexual abuse against boys at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s in the early 1970s.
Until last week Thorne had been working as a teacher at a junior high school in St John’s.
Five priests and a former priest have been convicted or charged in recent months with sexually abusing young boys.
Two priests have each been sentenced to five years in prison for the sexual assault of boys over a period spanning two decades.