Catholic Church sexual abuse cases in Canada

Catholic Church sexual abuse cases in Canada are well documented dating back to the 1960s. The preponderance of criminal cases with Canadian Catholic dioceses named as defendants that have surfaced since the 1980s strongly indicate that these cases were far more widespread than previously believed. While recent media reports have centred on Newfoundland dioceses, there have been reported cases—tested in court with criminal convictions—in almost all Canadian provinces. Sexual assault is the act of an individual touching another individual sexually and/or committing sexual activities forcefully and/or without the other person's consent. The phrase Catholic sexual abuse cases refers to acts of sexual abuse, typically child sexual abuse, by members of authority in the Catholic church, such as priests. Such cases have been occurring sporadically since the 11th century in Catholic churches around the world. This article summarizes some of the most notable Catholic sexual abuse cases in Canadian provinces.



Archival documents demonstrate that the Roman Catholic Church was aware of the prevalence of child sexual abuse by their priests as early as 1917. Advocates, media, and civil society often point out that the Roman Catholic Church prioritizes avoiding scandals over finding justice for survivors of clergy abuse.

1917 Code of Canon Law


The 1917 Code of Canon Law was introduced and was in use until January 25, 1983. It contained the following penal provision specifically addressing child sexual abuse:

2359 § 2 If they engage in a delict against the sixth precept of the Decalogue with a minor below the age of sixteen, or engage in adultery, debauchery, bestiality, sodomy, pandering, incest with blood-relatives or affines in the first degree, they are suspended, declared infamous, and are deprived of any office, benefice, dignity, responsibility, if they have such, whatsoever, and in more serious cases, they are to be deposed.

1922 Instructio De Modo Procedendi in Causis Sollicitationis


In 1922, the Vatican Press issued Instructio De Modo Procedendi in Causis Sollicitationis (Instruction on procedure in solicitation cases) outlining secret procedures to deal with sexual crimes by priests, including "The Worst Crime", being sexual relations with a minor. The document itself, the procedure and all participants, including the victims, were to be sworn to the highest level of Holy secrecy.

1962 Updated Instructio De Modo Procedendi in Causis Sollicitationis


In 1962, the Vatican Press issued an updated version of Instructio De Modo Procedendi in Causis Sollicitationis. This version included precedents, one of which was for the oath of secrecy to be taken by all exposed to the allegation and investigation. A New York Times article published on July 1, 2010, said that the 1962 instruction was a restatement of that of 1922, giving the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office authority to prosecute clergy accused of sexual abuse.[1]

1983 Code of Canon Law


The 1983 Code of Canon Law was promulgated on January 25, 1983, and continued to include a specific penal provision against priests having sex with minors. The new provision reads:

1395 § 2 - A cleric who has offended in other ways against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, if the crime was committed by force, or by threats, or in public, or with a minor under the age of sixteen years, is to be punished with just penalties, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state if the case so warrants.

1992 Report of Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops


Following the scandal over allegations of widespread abuse of children at Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland, the Roman Catholic Church began to slowly address the issue of rampant sexual abuse within its dioceses. In 1992, the Ad Hoc Committee on Child Sexual Abuse of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops published a report entitled From Pain to Hope[2] on abuse in Canada, with recommendations that the Church must emphasize victims rather than the institution. However, the recommendations did not appear to have the desired effect. For example, a letter made available to the public in 2010 revealed that a Canadian Catholic bishop wrote to Rome in 1993, just one year after the recommendations, to discuss ways to keep Bernard Prince, a priest convicted of sexual abuse,[3] hidden in the Vatican instead of facing justice in Canada.[4]

Subsequent Actions and Inactions of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops


In 2005, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops brought together a panel of church officials and lay people to determine what changes had taken place since the publication of the 1992 report. Victims of abuse were still critical of the management of sexual abuse by clergy and argued that the "Church's actions and the measures it implements are aimed more at preserving the financial and pastoral integrity of the institution, protecting priests, even known abusers, and the systematic challenging of victims, rather than their protection."[5]

In 2007, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a series of protocols for the dioceses to follow, which among other things advised bringing in police immediately to deal with abuse accusations, rather than handling them internally at first.[4][6]

Criminalization of Abuse of Adults by Priests


In 2021, Pope Francis changed the Vatican's Code of Canon Law to explicitly criminalize sexual abuse of adults by priests. Prior to this change, the church did not recognize that adults could be victims of priests who abuse their positions of trust and authority. The changes to articles 1395 and 1398 of Canon Law also provided, for the first time in history, for laypeople who work for the church to be punished for abusing minors and adults.[7]

Controversy over the Catholic Church's net worth and compensation for victims of clergy abuse


Following a Globe and Mail investigation in the summer of 2021, the extent of Canadian wealth held by the Catholic Church was revealed publicly.[8] In total, the combined assets of Catholic organizations within Canada totaled at least $4.1 billion Canadian dollars as of 2019. As of 2021, there are 3,466 registered Catholic Church charities within Canada. Combined, they received $886 million Canadian dollars in 2019, which makes the Canadian Catholic Church the largest charitable organization in Canada.[9]

Critics of the church, advocacy groups, and victims of clergy abuse have claimed that the Catholic Church, its dioceses, and representatives have been disingenuous when they claim that they are unable to compensate survivors of clergy abuse due to a lack of funds.[10] In 2021, discussions about abuse within Canadian residential schools reignited this criticism.[9]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Alberta


Fr. Robert Joseph Whyte


Between 1962 and 1982, Fr. Robert Joseph Whyte abused 18 boys and girls during his time as a parish priest of St. Pius Catholic Church and a Catholic high school teacher. He abused children at a youth camp near Radium, British Columbia.[11] In 1989, Whyte was charged 18 count of sexual abuse and pleaded guilty to each charge in January 1990.[11][12] Whyte, who received a four-year prison sentence,[11] is among at least four Basilian Order priests in Canada accused of sex abuse.[13]

In 2016, a 52-year-old man who claimed that Whyte molested him when he was between the ages of eight and fifteen filed a lawsuit at the Calgary Courts Centre.[12] The estate of Whyte, who died in 2014, and the Catholic Church in Alberta were each named as defendants in the lawsuit.[12] The plaintiff, who was also serving as an altar boy at the time of the alleged abuse, filed a $4 million lawsuit for damages.[12]

Rev Patrick O'Neill


In 1997,[14] Archdiocese of Edmonton priest Rev. Patrick O'Neill was convicted of sexually abusing three Alberta boys between 1971 and 1984.[14] In November 1998, was sentenced to two years less a day in prison.[14][15] In 1999, O'Neill received a conditional sentence after pleading guilty to sexually abusing two Irish boys he brought to Edmonton for holiday in the mid-1990s.[14][15]

In January 2012, a 51-year-old former altar boy who claimed he was sexually abused by O'Neill in the early and mid-1970s filed two $3.4 million lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Edmonton.[14][15]

Fr. Frederick (Fred) Cahill


In 2019, two former students of Bishop Grandin High School settled lawsuits for the sexual abuse they experienced at the hands of Father Frederick Cahill. Cahill was a Basilian priest and a teacher at Bishop Grandin High School.[16] Father Cahill died in 1983.

Sexual Abuse Cases in Manitoba


In April 2021, Fr. Fred Olds, formerly pastor of the parishes of St. Bernadette and St. Timothy in the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was dismissed from the clerical state following a canonical trial which determined that "he [Olds] engaged in grooming of young men, who were struggling with, or recovering from, drug or alcohol addiction by attempting to become a father-figure to them... becoming increasingly overly tactile in counselling situations... There is established a clear pattern of grooming young men, struggling with addictions, to eventually engage in sexual behaviour."[17] Olds was removed from the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults and placed on administrative leave from his office as Pastor of St. Timothy in late 2016 after these allegation were brought to the attention of the Archdiocese of St. Boniface.[18] Statements about Olds' alleged conduct were also made during the arrest and sentencing of Leo McCaughan, former business manager of St. Bernadette Parish, who pleaded guilty to embezzling over $400,000 in church funds in 2016.[18]

Sexual Abuse Cases in New Brunswick


As of 2017, court records indicate at least 56 cases of child sexual abuse involving the New Brunswick dioceses are currently before the courts.[19] According to one CBC report: "Almost every month for a year, lawsuits have been filed against the Catholic Church in New Brunswick by alleged victims seeking compensation for sexual abuse by priests."

Sexual Abuse Cases in British Columbia


Archdiocese of Vancouver


In 2019, the Archdiocese of Vancouver publicly named nine clergymen who were criminally convicted of sexual abuse or who had civil lawsuits related to abuse settled against them.[20] It was also acknowledged that the archdiocese was aware of 36 sex abuse cases since the 1950s, which involved 26 children. The Archdiocese of Vancouver was the first among Canada's 60 Catholic dioceses to make this information public.[20]

In August 2020, a new sex abuse lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of Vancouver.[21] The lead plaintiff, identified only by the initials K.S. in the court documents, said the priest in charge of St. Francis of Assisi School, Father Michael Conaghan, sexually assaulted her while she was a student at the school in the 1980s. She was around 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.[21]

Conaghan, who died four days after the lawsuit was filed, was not among the nine clergy listed by the archdiocese in 2019. The lawsuit also alleged the Archdiocese of Vancouver followed marching orders from the Vatican for years on how to bury allegations of abuse within its parishes.[21]

Hubert Patrick O'Connor


Hubert Patrick O'Connor was a Canadian Roman Catholic bishop of Prince George in British Columbia who was forced to resign following sex abuse charges filed against him.[22]

Fr. Damian Lawrence Cooper


Fr. Damian Lawrence Cooper is a Vancouver priest who was first accused of sexual abuse in 1994. He was sued in the B.C. Supreme Court along with the Archdiocese of Vancouver on September 29, 2014. The plaintiff visited the priest for counseling prior to the abuse, and was sixteen years old when the sexual abuse began. Media coverage of the lawsuit unearthed the fact that, despite initial claims of having removed Cooper permanently from the priestly ministry when the abuse was first admitted in 1994, the Archdiocese of Vancouver instead sent him to work in an archdiocese on Long Island, New York. In Long Island, he then committed "problems of a similar nature".[23] The archdiocese's official comments to the media referred to the abuse as "an affair" which raised public expressions of concern, including questions about whether the archdiocese was being legally aggressive or simply remained ignorant of the nature of pastoral sexual exploitation when it equated sexual exploitation of a minor and a congregant with "an affair".[24] Cooper was still a priest of the Archdiocese of Vancouver at this time, technically on leave, but had not been laicized (permanently removed from active ministry as a priest). He lives in Vancouver, Washington.

Fr. Erlindo Molon


On August 25, 2020, British Columbia justice David Crossin ordered the office of the Bishop of Kamloops and retired priest Fr. Erlindo Molon, who was by then 88 years old, to pay $844,140 in damages to Rosemary Anderson, who claimed Molon raped her 70 to 100 times in 1976 and 1977, beginning when she was 26 years old.[25] Anderson claimed Molon offered her counselling when she was grieving her father's death.[25] During the lawsuit, former Kamloops Bishop, and future Vancouver Archbishop, Adam Exner, who was previously Molon's superior, conceded during witness testimony that he knew Molon "was molesting people," including Anderson.[25] Exner also stated that Molon was not stripped of his priesthood status until after Anderson told him that Molon raped her and suggested that she marry him.[25]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Newfoundland


For decades, the Archdiocese of St. John's has been tied to sex abuse scandals.[26]

James Hickey affair


In September 1988, Fr. James Hickey pleaded guilty to 20 charges of sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault involving teenage boys while he was a parish priest on the Burin Peninsula and in the St. John's area.[27] He spent five years in prison, serving his sentence at Her Majesty's Penitentiary, St. John's, and Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick. Despite Hickey's criminal conviction the Archdiocese fought against the victims' lawsuits demanding damages for over 20 years.[28]

Hickey was the first priest convicted in a sexual-abuse scandal. Hickey died in 1992.

In February 2009, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador ruled that the Archdiocese of St. John's was, "vicariously liable", for the sexual abuse of eight former altar boys by disgraced priest, Fr. James Hickey.

Mount Cashel orphanage scandal


In 1988, a scandal erupted over allegations of widespread abuse of children at Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland.[29][30][31][32] Throughout 1989-1993, nine Christian Brothers were charged and prosecuted for various criminal offences including sex offences against the boys of Mount Cashel orphanage.[33][34][35][36] The religious order that ran the orphanage filed for bankruptcy in the face of numerous lawsuits. Since the Mount Cashel scandal erupted, a number of priests across the country have been accused of sexual abuse.[37]

In July 2020, the Court of Appeal for Newfoundland and Labrador unanimously reversed a 2018 Supreme Court ruling and ruled that the Archdiocese of St. John's was liable for the sexual abuse committed at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1950s and 1960s.[38]

In July 2021, the Archdiocese of St. John's announced plans to sell off assets in order to compensate victims of the Mount Cashel sex abuse scandal.[39]

Other notable cases


In 1989, Fr. Kevin Molloy went to St. John's archbishop Alphonsus Liguori Penney to report that a child had seen pornography at the home of a priest Raymond Lahey.[40][41] These allegations were recounted in 2009 when Bishop Lahey was subsequently arrested for separate allegations involving illicit pornography (see: sexual abuse scandal in Antigonish diocese).[42][43]

In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada in Doe v Bennett, upheld the lower court's decision that the ecclesiastical corporation, Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. George's in Western Newfoundland, was vicariously liable (as well as directly liable) for sexual abuse by Father Kevin Bennett.[44]

In 2007, Reverend Wayne Dohey was charged with sexual assault and one charge of exploitation of a minor. The charges were dismissed due to insufficient evidence. The abuse allegedly occurred between 1996 and 2000 and started when the alleged victim was fourteen years old. Dohey was admitted to counseling in 2001. Controversy over the legality of the sexual relationship occurred because it was unclear whether Dohey was in a position of authority over the 14-year-old Anglican, who was placed at his church for mandatory community service.[45]

In July 2020, Rev. Peter Power, who was originally from the Archdiocese of Toronto, was charged with charges of sexual touching, sexual assault and committing an indecent act involving two teenaged boys, aged 18 and 16 years old at a residence in a small Newfoundland community earlier in the year.[46] Though officially retired, Power was still occasionally active in Catholic ministry when he relocated to Newfoundland.[46]

In August 2022, a British Columbia man, known only as 'John B. Doe,' filed a class action lawsuit in British Columbia, alleging that he was physically and sexually abused while attending Vancouver College, a preparatory Catholic School for boys located in the Shaughnessy neighbourhood of Vancouver, British Columbia. The lawsuit alleges that six Christian Brothers working as teachers at the school, were known to have committed crimes, (in some cases admitted to crimes) against children in NL, before being transferred to Vancouver to teach at Vancouver College.[47]

In September 2022, police in Burnaby, BC, acknowledged that they had an active investigation in relation to a complaint against a former NL Christian Brother, who was transferred from the Mount Cashel Orphanage subsequent to allegations of child molestation, to St. Thomas More Collegiate, a private school ran by the congregation of Christian Brothers. The complainant, John A. Doe, is accusing former Christian Brother Edward English of abuse allegations during his time at the private college. John A. Doe, questions how Brother English was allowed to quietly be transferred from NL to BC, without charges, after admitting to molesting children to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, in 1975.[48]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Ontario


Bernard Ambrose Prince


In 2008, Msgr Bernard Ambrose Prince (born in Wilno, Ontario, ordained in 1964, incarnated in 1992 in Pembroke, Ontario) pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse of thirteen young boys from 1964 onward. He was sentenced to four years' incarceration in 2008. He was laicized by the Catholic Church in 2009, and paroled in 2010.[49] His crimes were known in the Canadian Catholic Church[50] and in the Vatican before he was appointed to Rome in 1991.[51]

In Ottawa, Ontario historical cases of child-sexual abuse by Catholic priests within the Ottawa archdiocese date back to the 1950s. Newspaper records of documented cases involved at least 11 abuser priests and 41 victims.[52] Among these cases was those of convicted child sex offenders, Dale Crampton, Ken Keely, Jacques Faucher and Barry McGrory: all of whom served as priests in the Ottawa diocese in the 1970 and '80s under Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde, whose own role in these cases is well documented but was never held to account by the courts.[53]

As of 2016, the Ottawa archdiocese has paid nearly $600,000 in settlements to abuse victims in seven lawsuits since 2011. Five more lawsuits remain, with claimants seeking a total of $7.4 million.

In 2016, Ottawa archbishop Terrence Prendergast acknowledged "the enormity of the evil" in connection to these cases.[52]

Dale Crampton


In 1986, Dale Crampton was arrested and pled guilty to seven counts of indecent assault involving minors. Those abuses transpired between January 1973 and December 1982, while Crampton was a priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa. The seven male victims were all between the ages of 10 and 13 when they were assaulted by Crampton.

In the ensuing years subsequent to that trial, the number of sexual abuse cases grew in which Crampton was named as defendant. The scope of those new cases extended as far back as 1963, when Crampton was first ordained as a priest.

As of 2017, the Ottawa Catholic diocese knew of at least 17 people who say they were victimized by Crampton as children.

Kenneth O'Keefe


In September 2012, Basilian order priest Kenneth O'Keefe, who taught at various Catholic schools in the Ottawa area, received a nine-month house arrest sentence after pleading guilty to inappropriately touching a 16-year-old who was a student at Ottawa's St. Pius high school during a sleepover at his apartment in 1974.[54] In January 2013, O'Keefe received an additional sentence of nine months house arrest after pleading another "indecently assaulting" a then-17-year-old boy who was a student at Ottawa's St. Joseph's Catholic School over the course of four months between September and December, 1969 as well.[55]

Angus Alexander McRae


In 1989, Priest Angus Alexander McRae, Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta (ordained June 5, 1954) was charged with the sexual abuse of two boys in Scarborough, Ontario. He spent several years with the Canadian Armed Forces as a military chaplain. In 1980 he attended court and was sentenced to four years for sexual abuse of a young boy. The charges, which included buggery, gross indecency and indecent assault, were laid and prosecuted by military police. He served the first ten months of his four-year sentence in the CFB military prison in Edmonton before being sent to Southdown, a treatment centre for Catholic clergy.[56] After his release from Southdown, he was taken into the Archdiocese of Toronto by Archbishop Emmett Carter, and was recycled into St. Thomas More parish in Scarborough. In 1989, he was charged with abuse in Toronto and pleaded guilty. He was then placed on three years' probation. He later claimed that he only pled guilty to spare the families further embarrassment: "As much as I hated it and against my conscience and to save families further embarrassment I took it on the chin."[57] McRae passed away at the Edmonton General Hospital on Friday, May 20, 2011.[citation needed]

William Hodgson Marshall


On April 30, 2020, the Canadian Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the Basilian Fathers of Toronto to not give victim Rod MacLeod a required payment of just over $2.5 million, including $500,000 in punitive damages, stemming from a sexual-assault case in the 1960s.[58] MacLeod was abused by Father William Hodgson (Hod) Marshall,[59] then a Basilian priest, when MacLeod was a student at St. Charles College high school in Sudbury.[58] A jury had previously ordered the Basilian Fathers of Toronto to make the payment in April 2018 by a jury.[60][58]

Marshall, who died in 2014 at the age of 92, pled guilty in 2011 to 16 counts of indecent assault of minors and one count of sexual assault for incidents that occurred between 1952 and 1986 when he taught at Assumption and Holy Names high schools in Windsor, plus other Catholic high schools in Toronto and Sudbury.[59] He was sentenced to two years in prison, and served 16 months of his sentence before being released on probation in 2012.[59] However, Marshall, who was given the nickname "Happy Hands" in the 1950s due to his tendency to touch students, later pled guilty to more sex abuse charges stemming from his time in Saskatchewan.[59]

The Roman Catholic Diocese of London, Ontario has been the source of several significant clergy sexual abuse scandals and cases within Canada. As has been the case in many Canadian and global dioceses, investigations and allegations revealed a pattern of sexual abuse and cover ups within the Diocese of London.

As of June 2018, at least 22 priests of the Diocese of London were known to be convicted, charged, or sued for the sexual abuse of children.[61] In December 2019, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests of Southwest Ontario released a list of 36 "credibly accused" Catholic priests who were priests of the Diocese of London or committed sexual offences while serving within the diocese's jurisdiction.[62] The list is limited to priests who sexually abused minors and not adults.

The current bishop's delegate for clergy sexual abuse is Reverend John Patrick Comiskey. The job of the bishop's delegate is to reach settlements with victims of clergy abuse on behalf of the diocese.[63]

In response to public outcry and civil lawsuits, the Diocese of London started funding counselling for victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. In 2018, the Diocese changed its policies to restrict funding for and the availability of counselling.[64][65]

Parish transfer and Priest Shuffling


The Diocese of London was responsible for some of the most well-known cases of "priest shuffling" in Canada, including that of Father Charles Henry Sylvestre and Father Barry Glendinning.

During the criminal investigation and legal proceedings against Father Charles Henry Sylvestre, it was revealed that the Diocese repeatedly "solved" all the complaints and accusations by moving Sylvestre to a new parish, including Bluewater, Ontario (where he was first reported), an unnamed place in Quebec, then Delhi, London, Windsor, Chatham-Kent and Pain Court (all in Ontario), where he made new victims.

Following his conviction for sexual abuse of multiple children, Glendinning was sent to Southdown, a treatment center for Catholic clergy.[66] Glendinning was transferred to the Archdiocese of Edmonton in Alberta following his release from Southdown. He sexually abused several young boys while in Edmonton but no charges were laid. He was sent to Southdown again before being sent to the Archdiocese of Toronto. When parishioners found out about Glendinning's history, Archbishop Emmett Carter defended him until he was pressured to remove Glendinning from the parish.[67] He was laicized in 2008.

Lawsuits against Father Barry Glendinning

Glendinning's victims include John Swales and his two brothers, who were one of the first victims of clergy abuse within the Diocese of London to sue the Diocese. Swales and his brothers were abused by Glendinning in the 1970s when they were teenagers.[68][69] Glendinning was convicted in relation to the abuse suffered by the Swales brothers. John Swales and his younger brothers filed a lawsuit in the late 1990s with respect to the abuse. Just under a decade after the start of their civil lawsuit, the Swales brothers were awarded $2.5 million in an out-of-court settlement for the abuse they suffered at the hands of Glendinning. This is the largest publicly known payment made by the Diocese of London to victims of clergy abuse within its diocese.[61]

Father Charles Henry Sylvestre Trial and Appeal

In 1996, a lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of London by a woman named Irene Deschenes, alleging that Father Sylvestre sexually abused her when she was an elementary school student in the early 1970s. In 2000, the lawsuit was settled. During the criminal proceedings against Sylvestre in the 2000s, it was revealed that the Diocese had received reports dating back to 1962 of Sylvestre abusing three young girls. This information had not been provided to Deschenes during settlement discussions.[70]

Deschenes went to court to request a re-opening of her lawsuit in light of the new information regarding the Diocese's prior knowledge and responsibility.[71] In 2018, the Ontario Court of Justice ruled in Deschenes favour. The Diocese appealed the ruling. On May 21, 2020, the Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the legal appeal. The Diocese then appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court also upheld the ruling in Deschene's favour and allowed her to continue with a new lawsuit against the Diocese.[72]

The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp v. AXA Insurance Canada

The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp v. AXA Insurance Canada is a case commenced by the Diocese of London at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. The diocese initiated the legal proceedings against the insurance company in 2008 after it refused to pay out claims in two sexual abuse cases. AXA Insurance filed a counterclaim seeking $10 million.[73] The decade-long legal battle ended on June 20, 2018, when both sides reached an out-of-court settlement.[74]

Abusive Priests in the Diocese of London


The following is a non-exhaustive list of priests of the Diocese of London who were convicted of sexual crimes. Civil lawsuits were filed against many of the convicted priests and the Diocese of London.[75]

Charles Henry Sylvestre

In August 2006 Father Charles Henry Sylvestre (born 1922)[76] of Belle River, Ontario pled guilty to 47 counts of sexual abuse on females between the ages of nine and fourteen between 1952 and 1989. Paul Bailey, the Crown Attorney for Chatham Kent, reportedly described the case as being the "largest case of non-residential school sex abuse by a Roman Catholic priest" in North America.[77] Local newspapers documented the lives of many of the women who refused the publication ban and spoke out about their abuse.[78] Sylvestre was given a three-year sentence in October 2006 and died January 22, 2007, of natural causes after only three months in prison.[76] The case was documented by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation new programme The Fifth Estate.[76] On May 21, 2020, an Ontario appeals court dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London, where Sylvestre was employed, to drop a lawsuit filed by Irene Deschenes, who claimed that Sylvestre sexually abused her when she was a minor between 1970 and 1973.[79] Deschenes began legal action against the Diocese of Ontario in 1996.[79]

Father Barry Glendinning

In 1974, Barry Glendinning was charged and convicted of six counts of gross indecency involving five boys and one girl over a period of six years.[80] Glendinning died on July 14, 2011.[81]

Father Alfred Sasso

Alfred Francis Sasso pleaded guilty in 1980 to three counts of gross indecency involving three youths, one a former altar boy. He was sentenced to three months in jail. After his conviction, he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Vancouver in British Columbia.[82] He died on September 27, 1991

Father John Harper

John Harper was a priest and teacher who sexually abused boys. He was known for hearing the boys' confessions immediately after each act of sex abuse. Harper was reported twice, once in the late 1960s to Church officials, and once in the early to mid 1970s to school officials. No action was taken until a victim went to police and he was charged in 1987. Harper was convicted in 1988 for sexual abuse and received a suspended sentence. In 2003, he pleaded guilty to another set of charges and received three years' probation.[83]

Father Robert Morrissey

In the 1960s, Robert "Bob" Morrissey was a Christian Brother. He was known as "Brother Frederick". He supervised boys at St. John's Training School in Uxbridge, Ontario. The now defunct training school was rife with sexual, physical, and psychological abuse during its years of operation.[84]

In 1969, Morrissey left the Christian Brothers and entered St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario. Morrissey was ordained in 1971 as a priest for the Diocese of London.

In 1992, charges of attempted buggery, indecent assault, gross indecency and assault causing bodily harm were laid against Morrissey. The charges were in relation to Morrissey's sexual abuse of students dating back to 1960 while he was at St. John's Training School. Morrissey was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison.[85] Morrissey appealed the decision. The conviction on several charges of sex and physical abuse were set aside and a new trial was ordered. The appeal with respect to the conviction for one charge of physical abuse was dismissed.[86]

Father Michael Francis White

In January 1994, Michael Francis White was pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault against a young girl in Petrolia. The young female victim had gone to White to receive sexual assault counselling. White was sentenced to 18 months probation and served no jail time.[87]

Father Gary Roy

In 1998, Gary Roy pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault of young boys. He was sentenced to four months in jail and three years' probation. The subject abuse dated back to the early 1980s. Roy died on June 19, 2001, shortly after pleading guilty.[88] In August 2001, Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Diocese of London requested that the Vatican defrock eight of its priests who had been convicted of sexual abuse of children. Roy was one of these eight priests.[89][90]

Father John Stock

In 1998, John Gerald Stock (a.k.a. Gerry Stock a.k.a. Gerard Stock) pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a former altar boy. He received a conditional sentence to be served within the community of London, Ontario.[91]

In September 1998, the Ontario Provincial Police laid 68 new charges against Stock. 34 counts of indecent assault and 34 counts of gross indecency were laid with respect to allegations of sexual abuse of 16 separate male victims.[92] The alleged abuse spanned 22 years from 1959 to 1981.[93] In December 1998, Stock pleaded guilty to all 34 counts of gross indecency. He was sentenced to two-years-less-a-day conditional sentence and 240 hours of community service. The sentence did not include any incarceration. There is some evidence that the Diocese was aware of Stock's propensity for or history of sexual abuse, including the fact that he received treatment for his sexual problems prior to the laying of any criminal charges.[94]

In January 1999, Stock pleaded guilty for a new charge of sexual abuse of a former altar boy. The victim was 12 or 13 years old at the time of the abuse.[93] The 12-month conditional sentence ran concurrent to the sentence of December 1998.

Father Ermete Nazzani

Father Ermete Nazzani (a.k.a. Father Herm) was a priest of the Scalabrinian Fathers, also known as the St. John The Baptist Province of The Fathers of St. Charles. In 2022, a lawsuit was filed alleging that he sexually abused an altar boy while he was a visiting priest at St. Angela Merici and St. Patrick's parishes in Windsor.[95]

Father Cameron MacLean

In 1981, Bishop Sherlock was informed that MacLean was sexually abusing minor boys. Bishop Sherlock did not take any concrete action for almost two decades in response to these allegations. In 1997, MacLean was relieved of his duties at St. Theresa parish in Windsor. This decision was made just before the first charge of sexual abuse was laid against him.[96] He was not laicized after the charges were laid. MacLean was later reinstated as a priest.

In July 1998, MacLean pleaded guilty to sexually abusing four young boys. Further charges were laid, including one charge of indecent assault in August 1998 and three counts of indecent assaults and three charges of buggery in October 1998. In October 2000, MacLean pleaded guilty to charges related to his sexual abuse of eight different boys in the 1970s and 1980s.[97][98]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Nova Scotia


On August 7, 2009, bishop Raymond Lahey announced that the Diocese of Antigonish had reached a $15 million settlement in a class action lawsuit filed by victims of sexual abuse by diocese priests dating back to 1950. On September 15, 2009, he was arrested at the Ottawa airport after the border services agency uncovered hundreds of unlawful images (child pornography) on his laptop computer. Lahey was "sentenced to 15 months in prison and two years' probation, but received a two-for-one credit for the time he served".[99]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Saskatchewan


In 2013, convicted Ontario Basilian priest William Hodgson ("Hod") Marshall received a six-month house arrest sentence after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting two Saskatoon boys in 1959 and 1961.[59]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Quebec


The institution Collège Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur came into the public eye for a multitude of sex abuse cases and cover-ups spanning more than the second half of the 20th century.[100]

In December 2012, it was reported that a deacon at a congregation in Beaconsfield, Quebec, and "a spokesperson for the Catholic Church on issues of child abuse", was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography after police seized more than 2,000 photos, as well as computers and hard drives, at locations in Beaconsfield and Pointe-Claire.[101]

In April 2023, the Quebec Court of Appeal approved a Canadian $ 38 million settlement between the Canadian province of the Clerics of Saint Viator, a teaching order, and 375 victims of sexual abuse, after the plaintiffs' lawyers agreed to reduce their fees by about 20%.[102][103]

Sexual Abuse Cases in Nunavut


On September 12, 2014, de-frocked Catholic priest Eric Dejaeger [fr] (born April 24, 1947, ordained in 1978) "was convicted of 24 counts of indecent assault, one of unlawful confinement, two of buggery, three of unlawful sexual intercourse, one of sexual assault and one of bestiality" that he committed during his time in the priesthood in the Roman Catholic mission in Igloolik, between 1978 and 1982.[104] He had already been convicted for 11 counts of sexual assault and indecent assault against children at his previous post in Baker Lake, Nunavut.[104]

Allegation against former nuncio


On 22 February 2019, a Canadian man, Christian Vachon, claimed that former nuncio to Canada Luigi Ventura had touched him improperly in July 2008 when he was 32.[105][106] Vachon said Ventura's successor as Nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, called him the day he registered his complaint to discuss it.[107] On July 23, 2020, it was reported that Ventura, who is facing trial in France for later sex abuse allegations, was still under investigation for the alleged 2008 incident in Ottawa.[108][109]

Residential schools


By 1912, thousands of First Nations children attended residential schools, many of which were run by the Catholic Church. In 1990, Manitoba leader Phil Fontaine revealed that he had been sexually and physically abused in a Catholic residential school. He claimed that sexual abuse was common in residential schools in general. "In my grade three class, if there were 20 boys, every single one of them would have experienced what I experienced. They would have experienced some aspect of sexual abuse."[110] Canadian author and artist, Michael D. O'Brien, has also spoken out about his painful experiences of residential school abuse, revealing that "the sexual exploitation of the young has been epidemic in Catholic residential schools and orphanages."[111]

See also

Sexual abuse cases in catholic church
Critique & consequences related topics
Investigation, prevention and victim support related topics
Other related topics


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