When “Alex” watches Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals Friday night, he’ll struggle to block a memory that has haunted him for the last 17 years.
Alex was a 14-year-old altar boy when, after Saturday mass in October 1982, he was invited by Rev. Dale Crampton to watch a hockey game in the rectory of St. Maurice parish in Ottawa.
Alex loved hockey. He trusted Crampton, a highly revered priest in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese who Alex and his family had known for about five years.
The answer was easy. Yes!
But as they sat in front of the TV, watching their favourite team, the Leafs, Crampton sexually molested Alex.
In 1986, Crampton was convicted of indecently assaulting seven altar boys, including Alex, over a decade. He served eight months in prison.
Alex, now 41, still living in Ottawa and with his children of his own, says he still suffers emotional distress from that night.
“I think about it a lot,” he said. “Every time I watch Hockey Night in Canada.”
Yesterday, Alex, whose real name is still protected by a court-ordered publication ban from 1987, announced a $2-million civil lawsuit against Crampton and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa.
He said he is launching the lawsuit to “seek out the truth, achieve personal healing, reach out to others who have been abused and prevent other children from suffering.”
Ginette Chaumont, communications officer for the archdiocese, said the church will reserve comment on the lawsuit until it reads today’s news reports. She said it would also clarify the church’s affiliation with Crampton, who Alex and his lawyers have been unable to locate.
“We’ve been looking for him for months (to serve him with the suit),” said Robert Talach of the law firm Ledroit Beckett.
The archdiocese told him they do not know Crampton’s whereabouts, but accepted the lawsuit papers on his behalf, Talach said.
“We’ve got to find him,” Talach said. “We know after his meagre eight months in prison he spent quite a period of time in London, Ontario, working at a marriage tribunal. There’s some rumour that he retired in ‘95. In the church that could mean you’re just taken off the active role and put on the pension payment. It could mean he got out of the priesthood, who knows?”
Alex realizes there is the possibility that Crampton, who would now be 72, has passed away.
At the least, he said, he’s looking for acknowledgment from the church that robbed him of much more than his spirituality.
“They never attempted to extend an offer of assistance,” he said.
Anyone with information regarding Crampton and his whereabouts are encouraged to call a toll-free tip line at 1-866-674-4994.