VICTIMS FEEL CHEATED AFTER PRIEST FACING SEXUAL ASSAULT CHARGES DIES BEFORE GOING TO TRIAL
Victims of an alleged pedophile priest, whose trial was repeatedly delayed, say his death this week has robbed them of the chance to confront him.
Linus Bastien died June 19 at home in Petrolia after his case dragged on with repeated delays for five years. He was 89.
One of Bastien’s alleged victims from St. Mary church in Maidstone said he was disappointed when he learned of the priest’s death.
“I knew it meant the end of the court case,” said the 52-year-old man whose identity is covered by a publication ban. “A sense of loss and knowing that me and the 11 other witnesses, we’ll be denied that sense of closure that the criminal court case would have given us.”
Bastien served at many churches throughout Essex County, starting with Most Precious Blood in Windsor in 1951.
He was accused of sexually abusing 12 boys while serving as a priest at St. Charles Parish in the former Township of Tilbury East, St. Mary Parish in Maidstone, St. Paul in LaSalle and St. Joachim Parish in Lakeshore.
“We are sorry for all of the hurt any victims have experienced,” the diocese said Wednesday in a written statement. “We are committed to living up to our responsibilities and obligations to victims of sexual misconduct. The victims who have come forward are making a difference and we thank them for doing so.”
Spokeswoman Emma Moynihan said the diocese wouldn’t make any further comment.
There have been dozens of court dates and delays since Bastien’s initial arrest on Oct. 25, 2011, but he died before the actual trial could begin. When asked Wednesday about whether the charges would be withdrawn now that Bastien is dead, Brendan Crawley with the Ministry of the Attorney General said he would need another day to answer the question.
Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers announced in November it was launching lawsuits on behalf of three victims who were frustrated with constant delays in the criminal trial and hoped to see some kind of justice before Bastien died. That didn’t happen, but the lawsuits will continue.
“I keep using my mantra ‘time tells all truth,’” said Robert Talach with Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers. “We’ll still trudge through the documents, the church witnesses and the victims’ testimony and get to the bottom of this and find out how this whole multi-victim, multi-parish, multi-year thing went down.”
But he added it is “a bit of a loss” that they won’t be able to question Bastien, for both practical reasons in the lawsuits and psychologically for the victims.
“One of the things the civil process offered that criminal didn’t was the ability to put him in the frying pan of examination,” said Talach. “He had to answer questions in the lawsuit, he doesn’t have a right of silence. This is a huge difference between criminal and civil, the bad guy has to sit in the box and answer questions. That isn’t going to happen now.”
One of the men involved in the civil suits, who said he was abused around age 13 at St. Paul, sued because he feels the criminal justice system failed the victims.
“I don’t a want a dime, I don’t want to think I was just a high-paid whore and this is going to make it OK,” said the 55-year-old man. “That’s not what this is about. I don’t need any more money. That’s not what I need. I need to know the court system is working for the civilians.”
The 52-year-old victim from Maidstone, who said his alleged abuse occurred in 1978 when he was 14, also feels the justice system failed him.
“Every court delay that the lawyer put forward, it pretty much guarantees a six-month delay because of the court system,” he said. “I was told that most criminal trials involving a history of sexual abuse last about three years. This one dragged out for five. That is where much of my frustration lies. Time was on their side, not our side.”
Adding insult to injury for some victims is they want to tell their stories now that Bastien is dead, but they are still barred by the courts from revealing their identities.
“I’ve waited 40 years to tell this story and to have the courts shut me down again is a miscarriage of justice,” said the victim from St. Paul.
“Every time I tried to bring this to the front I was always hushed. I finally bring it to the pinnacle which is the courts, and now the courts decided they’re going to quiet me.”
Published on June 22, 2016