“‘Can’t walk away from it’: Historic child abuse crimes haunt retired Sask. pastor” & related articles

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CTV News

Published Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:07PM CST
Last Updated Thursday, April 13, 2017 8:20PM CST

Angelina Irinici and Kevin Menz, CTV Saskatoon

Henry Clarke’s past is coming back to haunt him.

The retired Meadow Lake pastor, who’s still living in the Saskatchewan community, was recently hand-delivered a letter from a BBC reporter stating he was publicly named in a Northern Ireland government inquiry into historical institutional abuse.

The inquiry reports Clarke sexually abused three boys while working for Bawnmore and Firmount children’s homes in the 1970s and at his parents’ home in 1968, according to the letter. The BBC was hoping to speak with Clarke about the report.

“You can’t walk away from it. It’s always part of you. There’s something always there reminding you of what you’ve done,” Clarke told CTV Saskatoon. “What I did, I did. I’m very ashamed of that.”

He did speak with BBC, and last week the broadcaster published several stories on Clarke and the abuse cases. CTV sat down with him Wednesday afternoon.

The 74-year-old doesn’t deny the accusations. He admits to sexually abusing the three boys in Northern Ireland before moving to Canada in 1977.

“You can’t go back and take things back,” he said. “You do it, then you have to live with the consequences, and we actually thought the consequences were going to be a lot worse.”

Clarke first became aware he was being investigated by Northern Ireland police a few years after arriving to Canada.

Two police officers came to his door in Ontario, where he was living at the time, to speak with him. He initially denied the allegations, but while visiting the U.K. years later, in 1985, he admitted during a police interview to abusing two boys.

A follow-up letter he sent weeks later to the Royal Ulster Constabulary — a now-defunct police force in Northern Ireland — informed investigators of his abuse of a third boy.

His passport was confiscated by Northern Ireland police after his initial confession, but nothing was done and he was allowed to return to Canada 10 days later. Too much time had passed for Clarke to be prosecuted, he said.

One of the boys, now 61, called Clarke a “monster” and told the BBC he was 12 years old when he was abused. He wants to see justice, he said.

“You just had to stay away from him,” Billy Brown told the broadcaster. He waived his right to anonymity.

“You went to bed at night. You pulled your blankets around you as tightly as you could.”

RCMP would not confirm to CTV if officers are investigating Clarke and said police won’t comment on an investigation unless it results in charges being laid. One of the BBC pieces published after the broadcaster’s interview with Clarke states RCMP weren’t alerted of the allegations until 2016, but the RCMP did not confirm that information to CTV.

Clarke, who told CTV he took exception to Brown’s characterization, claims he was never violent and only abused each boy once, but one of the BBC reports claims Brown — who was abused while at Bawnmore — said he was abused twice by Clarke.

Clarke also claims he’s never abused any other boys and no boys since he’s moved to Canada, but he admits he still feels pedophilic urges.

“I’ve never been able to understand what it is within you that gives you these very wrong urges,” he told CTV, saying he fights the urges when they return.

“I walk away. I talk to myself and get myself straight in my head and walk away, carry on.”

He said he regrets the abuse. He was also sexually abused.

“I know the feelings that I’ve carried and I really should have seen that when I in turn offended,” he said. “I would tell them how sorry I really am. I mean that. I really am sorry.”

Clarke married around the time of the abuses. He and his wife had two sons before moving to Canada and adopting another son.

His wife helped him admit to the abuse in 1985, but his three sons did not find out about the crimes until the BBC interview.

“I’m really sorry that I brought this upon my wife and my family, and then with absolute sincerity, I’m sorry I’ve brought it on the community,” Clarke said.

Some members of the Meadow Lake community have been supportive since learning of his past, according to Clarke. He plans to remain in the city. He said he’s received supportive phone calls and hasn’t experienced any aggressive or threatening behaviour from others.

Mervin Johnson worked with Clarke when the former pastor was with Meadow Lake’s Alliance Church. Johnson was a board member.

“I have to say I was really shocked,” Johnson said of the BBC stories.

Johnson currently sits on the board of a non-profit Clarke was the head of until 2012.

“I thought he was an outstanding man. Very honest. I think the community is shocked too,” he said.

Clarke, who lived in Meadow Lake between 1982 and 1990 before moving back to the community in 2007, was ordained during his first stint in the city.

He was a pastor at Alliance Church until 1990, when he retired. He remained involved in community work upon his return to Meadow Lake.


RCMP quiet on Henry Clarke’s decades-old abuse claims

BBC News  US & Canada

07 April 2007

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) says it will not reveal whether it is looking into the case of a retired pastor and self-confessed child sex abuser living in Canada.

Henry Clarke, 75, admitted to authorities in Northern Ireland that he abused three boys there in the 1960s and 70s.

Mr Clarke moved to Canada in the late 1970s.

Canadian officials were informed of his admissions last year.

BBC News Northern Ireland made a 4,000 mile journey to find Henry Clarke in a small northern Canadian town hundreds of miles from the nearest city. He confirmed his previous abuse, and says he has never been contacted by Canadian authorities.

In response to a series of questions sent to the RCMP by the BBC, spokeswoman Annie Delisle would not confirm or deny any Canadian investigation of Clarke.

“Generally, only in the event that an investigation results in the laying of criminal charges, would the RCMP confirm its investigation, the nature of any charges laid and the identity of the individual(s) involved,” she stated.

Clarke first came to the attention of Northern Irish authorities in 1982 when the now-dissolved Royal Ulster Constabulary started an inquiry into allegations of sex abuse Belfast boys’ homes.

He was taken in for questioning in 1985 when he returned to Northern Ireland on a family holiday and confessed to abusing two boys. He later wrote a follow-up letter to authorities confessing to having abused a third boy.

Authorities did not charge Mr Clarke at the time because it was thought too much time had elapsed between the offences and the confession.

In a statement to the BBC, police in Northern Ireland said they contacted the RCMP in 2016, during the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, to alert them to the fact that Clarke was an alleged paedophile.

Mr Clarke has denied abusing any children in Canada.The Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland has said it is considering a review ofhow the case was handled following the BBC investigation.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is also reviewing how it shares information with Canadian authorities.

Mr Clarke has lived in British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

“I realise at that time that my behaviour was wrong and that there were consequences,” he told the BBC. “And I believed in my mind that I would finish up going to prison or something of that nature.”

Between 1977 and 1982, Mr Clarke worked at group home in Kenora, Ontario called Homestake House.

The Scott Mission, which ran the home until 1991, said it had no record of Mr Clarke’s confessions ever being disclosed to them.

They also noted Mr Clarke had resigned before he confessed to police in 1985, and said they are always ready to cooperate with authorities.

Mr Clarke was ordained as a pastor with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Canada.

The Alliance said in a statement that Mr Clarke’s service record is clean.

They also noted that police checks are a required component in the application process for ministry and that authorities are always notified of any abuse allegations.

Although Mr Clarke is retired, he was preaching as recently as March at a local church. A church official told the BBC that the church only learned of his past a few days ago, and that no complaints had ever been filed against Mr Clarke.Mr Clarke is no longer involved with any of its ministries, although he is still attending the church as a member, the official said.


Paedophile Henry Clarke who never faced court case faces PPS review

The Belfast Telegraph

April 7 2017

By Cate McCurry

Confessions: Henry Clarke Confessions: Henry Clarke

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is considering a review of the case of Henry Clarke, who has admitted abusing boys in care in Belfast during the 1960s and 1970s.

The abuse was highlighted on BBC Northern Ireland television this week after Clarke was tracked down to his home in Canada.

Clarke, a former church pastor, has never faced a court in relation to his self-confessed crimes.

The BBC revealed Clarke had confessed to the RUC in 1985 that he had abused children from three separate care homes.

Despite his confession, the RUC did not press charges against him.

The PPS yesterday told the BBC it was concerned police did not at the time forward evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The PPS has now written to the Chief Constable requesting the information given to police by Clarke in 1985 be handed over.

Jim Gamble, a former senior officer with the PSNI and now a leading child protection expert, said: “You had an admission, so you didn’t have… to worry that the allegation was old, and the evidence may be stale. You had a contemporary admission.

“And given that, I don’t understand why he wasn’t prosecuted.”

Clarke, who is now 75, said he had never abused any children since he emigrated to live in Canada.

He claimed his abusing stopped when he left Northern Ireland.

“I took the opportunity to start a new life and I went back to Bible college and did my training,” he said.

“And from 1982 until now I’ve been a pastor.”

Belfast Telegraph


Child sex abuser Henry Clarke tracked down to Canada

BBC News

6 April 2017

A serial child sex abuser who admitted his crimes to police has never been brought to justice.

Henry Clarke, 75, confessed to abusing three different boys at care homes in Northern Ireland.

A retired church pastor, he has been living in Canada since he made the admissions in 1985.

At the time, the director of public prosecutions ordered no prosecution, and police failed to act on a further confession.

The Canadian authorities were never informed.

BBC News NI made a 4,000 mile journey to track Henry Clarke down to where he now lives, in a small northern Canadian town hundreds of miles from the nearest city.

When questioned, he admitted he had abused three boys in his care in Northern Ireland in the late 60s and early 70s.

“At that time, I would not have used the word paedophile because I would never (have) thought of it, but subsequently as years have gone on, I realised that is the proper word for what I had done,” he said.

“Always in the back of my mind I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

Four different churches

One of his victims, Billy Brown, who was abused when he was 12, described Henry Clarke as “a monster”.

Mr Brown, who has waived his right to anonymity, said: “You just had to stay away from him.

“You went to bed at night, you pulled your blankets around you as tightly as you could.”

After emigrating in the late 70s, Henry Clarke went on to train as a pastor and worked at four different churches across Canada.

He eventually admitted the accusations of abuse during an interview with police in Belfast in 1985 and, afterwards, in a letter he wrote from Canada.

Clarke told the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) he had abused two boys, Billy Brown at Bawnmore House care home in Newtownabbey, and another boy at Firmount Hostel in Antrim.

“I realised at that time that my behaviour was wrong and there were consequences,” he said.

“And I believe that, in my mind… that I would probably finish up going to prison or something of that nature but there would be consequences.”

But nothing happened.

‘I wanted to deal with everything’

He was allowed to return to Canada, and from there he wrote a letter to the RUC confessing to the abuse of another boy, this time from Conway House children’s home, while he was at a Boys’ Brigade camp in Newcastle.

“When I was in Northern Ireland, I omitted to mention a boy I had interfered with sexually and, I wanted to deal with everything, and so I wrote to them and admitted that there was another boy that I had missed, or omitted telling them about, and asked them to take that into consideration,” he said.

In his letter of confession, Henry Clarke asked the RUC if they would be informing the Canadian authorities about his past.

He says they wrote back to tell him they would not, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were never told about the admissions.

In the early 80s he again worked with young children when he set up a home for boys in Kenora, Ontario.

The charity which ran the home, the Scott Mission in Toronto, said it was unaware of allegations of sexual abuse against Henry Clarke.

‘I knew what I was doing was wrong’

While in Canada, he and his wife also adopted a 13-year-old boy.

Asked if he thought he would have been allowed to adopt a child if the Canadian authorities had been told about his confessions to the RUC, he said: “Probably not.”

While denying he ever abused anyone other than the three boys, he said he did not put himself in any situations that might have presented opportunities for him to abuse.

“I recognise within myself that there is something there that is part of who I am and I would not, in any circumstances, put myself in a situation where I would be alone with children,” he said.

“There’s probably those feelings within me, yes, but there is a difference between feelings and acting and I am not acting out, in any way, those feelings, I deal with them and I know right from wrong.”

“I think always in the back of my mind I knew what I was doing was wrong,” he said. “But it was one of those situations where the opportunity comes along and I stepped into wrong behaviour.”

Henry Clarke’s confessions first came to light at the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, which reported earlier this year.

His identity had been protected by the inquiry’s offer of blanket anonymity but that ruling was successfully challenged by BBC News NI.


Police criticised over Henry Clarke child sex abuse

BBC News N. Ireland

6 April 2017

Police and prosecution services have been criticised for not bringing a paedophile to justice when he confessed to his crimes in the 1980s.

Retired church pastor Henry Clarke, 75, confessed to abusing three different boys at care homes in Northern Ireland.

One of his victims has said his abuser should stand trial now.

A child protection expert has said he should not have been allowed to get away with the crimes, and that police had enough to pursue a prosecution.

“In this incidence you had an admission, so you didn’t have… to worry that the allegation was old, and the evidence may be stale,” said Jim Gamble, a former senior officer with the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

“You had a contemporary admission. And given that, I don’t understand why he wasn’t prosecuted.”

‘Legal system let me down’

Henry Clarke first came to the attention of police in 1982 when an investigation began into systematic abuse at the notorious Kincora boys’ home in Belfast.

Some of the teenagers who had been abused at Kincora had come from Bawnmore, where they said they had also been sexually assaulted.

Belfast man Billy Brown, 61, was abused by Clarke at Bawnmore care home in Newtownabbey in 1968.

Mr Brown was just 12 years old and in care when Henry Clarke invited him to his family home, introduced him to his parents and then abused him while he slept’

He said Henry Clarke should be brought to justice no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

“The legal system let me down,” he told BBC News NI.

“He should be brought to justice now. He should have faced the courts like everyone else. If I do something wrong I face the courts.

“At the end of the day, why should he not face the courts? I can’t understand it. What was the reason they let him go?”

‘Too long ago’

In 1985, Clarke admitted abusing two boys when taken in for questioning by police during a family holiday in Northern Ireland.

In a statement to police, he admitted to sexual touching a child. The indecent assault happened in 1968 – 17 years before his confession.

In spite of his admission, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ordered “no prosecution”.

Asked why, the current Public Prosecution Service said that the DPP at the time considered the abuse had happened too long ago.

“The directing officer considered that given the time period which had elapsed (17 years) it would be inappropriate to pursue a prosecution,” said a PPS spokesperson.

“The prosecutor in this case was following the applicable guidance at the time in the then DPPs’ Office.”

But leading Barrister Eugene Grant QC said the passage of time did not matter in this case.

“On any reading, the DPP decision not to prosecute here is devoid of any rationale or indeed any legal principle,” he said.

“Simply to say a 17-year delay exists without more does not actually hold weight from a legal perspective.”

According to evidence given at the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry, the DPP directed: “It was considered that the passage of time rendered proceedings stale and inappropriate.

Billy Brown said this reason did not make sense because two other child abusers who had sexually assaulted him in the late 60s had been tried and sentenced in the 1980s.

“The other ones, they went to jail, they done their bird,” he said. “But he gets away.”

No consequences

After Henry Clarke returned to Canada in 1985, he wrote a letter to police in Belfast, confessing to another case of sexual abuse – this time against a resident from the Conway House children’s home who was assaulted at a Boys Brigade camp in Newcastle, County Down.

“I wrote a letter to them and told them that I had missed telling them about this other boy and I felt at that point in time there would be consequences for my admission,” he said.

But there were no consequences.

Given the state prosecutor’s previous refusal to mount a case against Clarke, this time police did not even tell the DPP about this latest confession; the RUC said there should be “no further action”.

A senior police officer wrote: “As the act admitted by Clarke is not punishable in law, there is no necessity to forward papers to the DPP.”

But according to the PPS, the sexual touching of a child was, in fact, punishable in law at the time.

Barrister Mr Grant, who examined the papers in the case, said the act carried out on the boy was a crime and questioned the police’s reason for not referring the case for prosecution.

“We have in the documentation a statement by a very senior RUC detective, who oversees the investigation, making it quite clear that, in his view, this is not an offence punishable by law,” he said.

“That is quite clearly wrong and it does not make any sense, so in my view, the RUC decision not to send this file to the DPP fails.”

Questions have also been raised over why the RUC did not alert the authorities in Canada to Henry Clarke’s confessions of abuse.

In his letter to the RUC in 1985, he looked for an indication from the police as to whether they intended contacting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

A senior policeman from Northern Ireland concluded: “As Clarke has not been convicted of any offence, there is no obligation to notify the RCMP.”

The PSNI said it was now reviewing how it shares information with the Canadian police.

Ch Supt George Clarke, head of the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch, said: “It is noted that when the decision was taken not to inform RCMP, that was on the basis that Clarke had not been convicted of any offence, which may have been the relevant standard or requirement applicable then.”

Since no one in Canada was made aware of Henry Clarke’s admissions, he continued to live out his life without anyone in authority knowing about his confessions.

He pastored at four different churches before retiring.

‘Your sin will catch you out’

Mr Gamble said it was a mistake that Canadian officials were not notified.

“I am not surprised that historically the police would have taken the position that in the absence of a conviction they wouldn’t feel comfortable with sharing information,” he said.

“I think that’s an error of judgement.

“I don’t know how many of us would have shared the information back then.

“The level of understanding and maturity around this was very low. Today I would expect that information to be shared.”

When asked, Henry Clarke said he had never abused any children in Canada.

The abuse stopped when he left Northern Ireland, he said.

“I took the opportunity to start a new life and I went back to Bible college and did my training and from 1982 until now I’ve been a pastor,” he told BBC News NI.

“I retired four years ago, but I’ve been a pastor and I’ve enjoyed doing what I’m doing.”

Henry Clarke continues to live his life uninterrupted in Canada, where he has spent the last 30 years preaching from the Bible.

“As we say in the Church, your sin will catch you out,” he said.

“In sitting here (talking to you) I am taking responsibility.”

2 Responses to “‘Can’t walk away from it’: Historic child abuse crimes haunt retired Sask. pastor” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    This is an extremely disturbing read.

    If the confession were for murders would police have seen fit to charge him?

    And that aside, your thoughts on the whole mess?

  2. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    “In sitting here talking to you, I am taking responsibility”! No, you are NOT Mr. Henry Clarke!!! You may have moved ahead yourself, but your victims have not, and cannot. There is a huge “debt” here, and until it is settled the “debt” remains.
    Perhaps the judiciaries of both countries will have difficulty prosecuting this case, and with this knowledge Mr. Clarke lets himself off the hook.
    I think the least Mr. Clarke can do (something must be done) would be to use his own lawyer to attempt contact with his victims, and offer both financial and spiritual help to his victims. He should be doing no less.
    He is quite clearly in a position to do both. Mike.

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