Priest, 80, Charged With Sex Abuse

August 13, 2010

By: Kristy Nease, The Ottawa Citizen

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Investigation examined 'inappropriate acts' between accused and two Ottawa teens in 1970s

An 80-year-old Ottawa priest has been charged with three counts of indecent assault following a police investigation into alleged sexual assaults involving two teenage boys dating back 40 years.

The investigation, which began in March, examined a "series of inappropriate acts" between the Roman Catholic priest and two teenagers in Ottawa between 1970 and 1976, police said Monday.

Rev. William Joseph Allen, 80, a former teacher at St. Pius X High School, faces three counts of indecent assault. Arrested Monday, he was released with conditions.

Reached at home by phone, Allen wouldn't comment on the charges, and declined to discuss his history with the archdiocese. "I'm sorry, I don't want to give any interviews."

Allen lives in the John Paul II residence adjoining the archdiocese on Kilborn Place near Billings Bridge. At his home, another man who answered the buzzer said Allen had no comment.

Late Monday afternoon, the Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa issued a statement under the name of Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, saying the archbishop was "deeply saddened" to hear criminal charges had been laid against "one of our priests."

Prendergast added that while Allen is in failing health and withdrew from active ministry a number of years ago, he had nonetheless "formally suspended" him from "all ministry and prohibited him from presenting himself as a Catholic priest."

A Catholic Ottawa newsletter for the spring and summer of 2010 contains a brief biography of Allen indicating that he recently celebrated his 55th year in the priesthood.

Born Sept. 6, 1929, Allen was ordained in June 1955 at St. Patrick's Church, the newsletter said. After serving as curate at the Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in Hull, he taught at St. Pius X High School. A 2006 newsletter from Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church on Saunderson Drive indicated that Allen taught at St. Pius X in the 1970s.

As well, he practised parish ministry at Blessed Sacrament, St. Monica's, Resurrection of Our Lord, Holy Family Catholic Community in Hunt Club, St. Elizabeth and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Allen also provided spiritual leadership to the Carleton Catholic Parent-Teachers Association and the Lay Carmelite Community.

According to the Catholic Ottawa newsletter, Allen, in marking his 55 years in the priesthood, had some advice to young seminarians entering the priesthood on how they could be "holy and happy" in their vocation. "Prayer," he said. "At times, priests drift away from prayer. Put yourself in the Lord's care. He is the eternal high priest. He will look after us and will always bring us back."

Allen was also quoted as saying a priest should not be a recluse. "It is important to get together for prayer and recreation."

The case against Allen is the second involving an Ottawa-area priest to come to public attention in recent months.

In October, Prendergast issued an apology to a man -- a 40-year-old who can only be identified as "Alex" -- who'd suffered sexual abuse as a 14-year-old at the hands of Rev. Dale Crampton.

The one-time pastor at St. Maurice Church on Perry Street was found guilty in 1986 of indecently assaulting seven altar boys. He was sentenced to eight months in jail. The subsequent apology was part of an agreed-upon settlement between "Alex" and the archdiocese.

In his October apology, Prendergast emphasized his "personal commitment" to creating "a safe environment in the church for young people and other vulnerable persons."

The archbishop's latest apology reiterates that message. "I restate our commitment to create a safe environment in the Church for children and other vulnerable persons."

The archdiocese is "committed to a process of justice and reconciliation for the victims of clergy abuse," Prendergast said. While a criminal investigation is an "option" for victims of abuse, the archbishop noted that it has long been church policy to advise victims that there are other alternatives available to them.

"Some victims have chosen a process outside the criminal justice system" and that process "remains a possibility," said Prendergast, inviting victims of clergy abuse to contact church offices.

"Every inquiry will be treated justly and with discretion."

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