Special Report Part 1: Insurance Lawsuit Reveals Secrets

May 20, 2016

By: Andrew Duffy, The Ottawa Citizen

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The Archdiocese of Ottawa will not say how many victims of clergy sex abuse it has recognized or how much it has paid them. But, as Andrew Duffy reports in this series, documents filed in a recent lawsuit begin to answer those questions, while also revealing details of never-before-known cases — such as that of Rev. Barry McGrory. Read Part 1 of this series below.

Documents filed by the Archdiocese of Ottawa as part of an insurance lawsuit disclose substantial new information about the history and scope of Ottawa’s clergy sex abuse scandal.

The scandal began to unfold in the mid-1980s, but the number of victims in this city has remained a closely guarded secret.

The diocese will reveal neither how many sexual abuse victims it has compensated, nor how much it has paid them.

Documents filed in the recent insurance suit, however, make credible estimates possible.

A Citizen analysis of court records, newspaper files and Sylvia’s Site — a website devoted to tracking the church sex abuse scandal in Canada — reveals there have been at least 41 acknowledged victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Ottawa diocese.

Eleven priests who worked in the diocese have been connected to sexual abuse through criminal and civil actions, the Citizen’s analysis shows. That total includes three previously unreported cases.

The diocese’s historic silence has meant that understanding the full scope of the sex abuse scandal in the Ottawa diocese is difficult since some cases have been prosecuted in criminal courts, while others have been settled privately in civil actions.

The Archdiocese of Ottawa was asked to produce its own victim numbers, but it declined.

“We do not comment on matters that are before the courts — civilly or criminally,” said Deacon Gilles Ouellette, spokesman for the diocese.

The Citizen’s numbers represent only those cases with paper trails, so it’s likely that more victims exist.

Many of the acknowledged victims have received out-of-court financial settlements.

Recently filed court documents reveal that the diocese has settled seven of the 12 sexual abuse lawsuits brought against it since 2011.

The diocese paid out a total of $591,783.45 in compensation to those seven victims during the past five years. The victims were abused by priests between 1958 and 1985.

The individual settlements ranged in size from $65,000 to $107,514.44.

The five claimants who have not settled with the diocese are seeking $7.4 million in damages.

Court documents reveal that one of the largest individual settlements ever paid by the diocese went to a woman who was abused as a young teen at Holy Cross Parish between 1975 and 1980. She received $300,000.

Her unreported story — and the shocking story of the priest, Rev. Barry McGrory, who abused her — can be read here.

The existence of the McGrory case was revealed in documents filed by the diocese in its lawsuit against an insurance company, L’Assurance Mutuelle de l’Inter-Ouest.

During the past two years, the diocese has sued two insurance companies, La Mutuelle and the Travelers Insurance Company of Canada, in an effort to secure coverage for 12 historic sex abuse claims.

In both lawsuits, the diocese said it “has suffered and is still suffering significant losses” due to costs associated with those abuse cases.

In a bid to offset those losses, the diocese has invested heavily in its fight for insurance coverage based on old liability insurance policies.

Liability insurance helps to defray church costs in the event that a priest is accused of serious misconduct, such as sexual abuse. It may also cover a substantial portion of both legal fees and payouts.

Msgr. Kevin Beach, vicar general of the diocese, revealed in an affidavit the he and his staff have spent 1,100 hours scouring archived church records to find decades-old insurance documents. The church estimated its court costs in the La Mutuelle case at $85,000.

Diocesan officials spent a year trying to understand whether La Mutuelle would cover court costs and potential settlements in eight sex abuse claims before suing the firm for answers in June 2014.

All of the incidents occurred more than 40 years ago. As the case moved through the court process, four additional sexual abuse claims were made — each for about $1 million, according to documents filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

La Mutuelle ultimately established that it was not licensed to sell public liability insurance before 1976, meaning it did not have to cover church costs related to abuse that happened before then.

With that issue settled, the two sides then struck a deal: Three cases of sexual abuse in the post-1976 era would be covered by old insurance policies.

The lawsuits highlight the diocese’s ongoing efforts to manage fallout from the sex abuse scandal that has roiled the church for decades.

Five Ottawa priests have been convicted of sex crimes committed in the diocese since 1986. Two others have been convicted in jurisdictions outside of Ottawa while still official members of the diocese.

The case of another accused priest, Rev. Stephen Amesse, former pastor at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Fallowfield, remains before the courts.

Amesse was charged in December 2014 with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy and sexual interference.

Amesse served as a Liberal political staffer on Parliament Hill for 10 years before entering the priesthood in 1999 at the age of 41. While still a layman, he served on a working group that helped produce the sex abuse protocols issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Ottawa’s clergy abuse scandal, by the numbers:

41: The number of Ottawa victims of clergy sexual abuse acknowledged in criminal and civil actions

$84,540.49: The average compensation award paid by the Ottawa diocese to sex abuse victims since 2011

11: The number of Ottawa priests connected to sexual abuse through criminal and civil actions

$7.4 million: The amount of money sought by Ottawa victims of clergy sexual abuse in civil claims still before the courts

7: The number of cases settled out of court by the diocese during the past five years

$300,000: The largest known individual settlement ever paid by the Archdiocese of Ottawa to a sex abuse victim

1100: The number of hours that diocesan staff spent searching for old insurance policies that could potentially cover 12 historic abuse claims in Ottawa filed since 2011

Those protocols were part of a June 1992 report, From Pain to Hope, that was the first of its kind worldwide, and aimed to help diocesan leaders in Canada better respond to sexual abuse allegations.

Its issuance followed on the heels of disturbing revelations of physical and sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in Newfoundland and at two reform schools in Ontario, all of them operated by the Christian Brothers, an all-male religious order sanctioned by the Catholic Church. (Since its members are not ordained, Christian Brothers are not part of the Catholic clergy.)

One of those schools, St. Joseph’s Training School for Boys, was located within the Ottawa diocese in Alfred, about 70 kilometres east of Ottawa.

Hundreds of former students, galvanized by the unfolding Mount Cashel scandal, began telling their stories of abuse in 1990. A massive Ontario Provincial Police investigation led to criminal charges being laid against 20 Christian Brothers who worked at St. Joseph’s.

Eleven of them were eventually convicted, including Andre Charbonneau, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting five boys. One boy was regularly abused between the time he was 10 and 12 years old.

The province closed the school in 1980.

The Ottawa archdiocese joined the Ontario government, the Toronto archdiocese and the Ottawa branch of the Christian Brothers in contributing to a landmark compensation package for the training school victims.

More than 1,000 victims shared $14.5 million, and received public apologies from church officials, the province and the Christian Brothers.

Across the globe, Catholic priests have victimized tens of thousands of children since 1950. In the United States alone, more than 16,000 people have reported that, as children, priests or deacons abused them, according to studies commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a report released in April 2015, the organization revealed the Catholic Church in the U.S. spent $119 million in 2013-14 on victim compensation, counselling services and legal fees related to sex abuse.

Another study commissioned by the church concluded that the problem was widespread and affected more than 95 per cent of all U.S. dioceses.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has never published a report that tries to establish the number of Canadian victims of clergy sexual abuse.

A criminal court history of the clergy sex abuse scandal in Ottawa

1967: Rev. Jean Gravel, a priest at Ottawa’s Saint-Remi Parish, pleaded guilty to charges of gross indecency involving two teenage boys, and resisting arrest.

Court heard that Gravel locked himself in his rectory apartment when police attempted to arrest him in February 1966. After the officers broke down the door, a scuffle ensued.

He was given a suspended sentence, placed on two years’ probation and sent to a treatment program for his alcoholism.

Gravel was defrocked in 1970 and killed himself a decade later.

1986: Rev. Dale Crampton, pastor of St. Maurice Parish in Nepean and a onetime Ottawa Separate School Board trustee, was charged with six counts of sexual abuse involving three altar boys. The charges followed public allegations of abuse made by congregation members frustrated by years of inaction.

Four more victims emerged before the case went to court.

Crampton pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting seven altar boys, between the ages of 9 and 13, over the course of a decade beginning in 1973.

Court heard that a mother of one of the victims approached Ottawa Bishop John Beahan with allegations against Crampton, but the auxiliary bishop treated them as confidential.

Crampton was initially given a suspended sentence, but the Ontario Court of Appeal set aside that penalty and imposed an eight-month jail term.

He killed himself in October 2010 by jumping from an Ottawa highrise.

1991: Rev. Kenneth Keeler, pastor at St. John the Apostle Parish and the founder of St. Brigid’s summer camp, was charged with sexually assaulting three boys, aged 13 to 15, in the 1970s and 80s.

During Keeler’s 1993 trial, one victim testified that he went to then Archbishop Marcel Gervais with his story of abuse in January 1991. The church investigated, he testified, but Gervais told him there was “no reason” to believe his story. (Gervais denied closing the book on the church investigation, and insisted that it was still ongoing when police laid charges against Keeler in October 1991.)

Court heard that Keeler would select boys to share his bed at the rectory and at the camp.

Bishop John Beahan once again figured in the trial. One of Keeler’s victims told court that he saw Keeler apparently masturbating Beahan on a balcony at the summer camp.

Midway through his trial, Keeler admitted he had sexually assaulted the three boys. He was sentenced to eight months in jail for indecent assault.

1989: Rev. Michael Mullins, the Irish-born pastor of St. Bernard Parish and a police chaplain, was charged with sexual assault.

In court, a hitchhiker said Mullins picked him up, and rubbed his legs and genitals while they drove along the Queensway. Weaving on the highway, Mullins was pulled over by police and failed a breathalyzer.

He was charged with sexual assault after the 19-year-old shared his story with police. Mullins was acquitted when an Ottawa judge said he didn’t believe the hitchhiker’s story.

Less than a year later, Mullins was sentenced in Dublin to an eight-year prison term for beating and sexually assaulting a teenager.

Mullins offered the 17-year-old a ride, took him home, sat on him, beat him across the face and head, and forced him to perform oral sex.

Mullins’ whereabouts are unknown.

2010: Rev. William Allen, a retired Ottawa priest, was charged with sexually assaulting two teenage brothers in the 1970s.

Allen, a former teacher at St. Pius X High School, assaulted one of his victims every Wednesday after choir practice in the rectory of St. Monica Parish; the other victim was assaulted at high school.

Allen was found guilty and given a conditional nine-month sentence because of his poor health. He died in December 2014.

2010: Rev. Kenneth O’Keefe, another former teacher at St. Piux X High School, was charged with indecent assault in connection with a 1972 incident.

Court heard that O’Keefe invited a Grade 11 student, who had fought with his parents, to sleep at his house. The 16-year-old boy slept in the priest’s bed and awoke to find O’Keefe naked, aroused and grinding against him.

O’Keefe was sentenced in 2012 to a nine-month conditional sentence, most of it under house arrest.

The following year, the 82-year-old pleaded guilty in a Hull courtroom to sexually assaulting another student over the course of four months in 1969. The victim, 17, was a student at Ottawa’s St. Joseph’s Catholic School, where O’Keefe was a teacher.

He lives in a retirement residence for Basilian priests in Toronto.

2013: Rev. Jacques Faucher was charged with sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy at the former Notre-Dame-des-Anges Parish near Tunney’s Pasture.

Four more alleged victims came forward before the start of Faucher’s trial, all from the same church.

He was convicted in March on six counts of gross indecency and indecent assault in connection with three altar boys. All of the incidents took place between 1969 and 1974.

The five complainants told similar stories: that Faucher would invite them into his private chamber, have them sit on his knee, and rub their backs and shoulders. He admitted to sometimes ejaculating in his pants.

Faucher is to be sentenced later this year.

Published on May 20, 2016

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