Brisson: Benoit Brisson

Benoit Brisson

Ben Brisson

Benoit Brisson was sexually molested by Father Gilles Deslaurier, a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario.   Deslaurier was the Roman Catholic priest who married Ben in 1984.  The marriage dissolved after two years, around the same time that Ben started to address the sex abuse he had endured at the hands of Father Gilles Deslaurier, a close friend of the Brisson family.

The Brisson family contacted Church official in January 1986.  They wanted the abuse dealt with within the Church.

After being promised that Deslaurier would not be returned to ministry and would receive treatment the Brisson family discovered that Deslaurier  had in fact been recycled and that the clerical molester was in short order serving in a parish in the Diocese of Gatineau-Hull, Quebec.  The archbishop in the Archdiocese of Gatineau-Hull, Quebec was Deslaurier’s very very good friend, the former Bishop of the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese, Adolphe Proulx.

After the discovery that Deslaurier was still at large in parishes the Brissons contacted police.  According to Benoit police initially said there was insufficient evidence to proceed but once the family went public an investigation ws conducted and charges were laid.   In 1986 Deslaurier entered a guilty plea – he received two years probation.

Jacques Leduc served as lawyer for the diocese and it was he who conducted interviews regarding the allegations.


14 October 2006:  BLOG   Discredit the witness is the name of the game

11 October 2006:  BLOG Clerical sexual abuse victim’s ex-wife testifies

Media Links

(scroll down for articles)

14 July 2008:  Church panel didn’t share tales of sex abuse:Outside agencies weren’t told about historical allegations (Leduc involvement in Deslaurier scandal)

Benoit Brisson Affidavit

Application for Standing and Funding at the Cornwall Public Inquiry



of the City of Cornwall,

in the United County of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry,

in the Province of Ontario,


1.I am one of the group of victims who was sexually abused (hereinafter referred to as “Victims Group”) in the Cornwall area.2. In 1977, at the age of sixteen, I was sexually abused by Father Gilles Deslauriers. This abuse continued for three years.3. The Victims Group seeks standing at this Inquiry to ensure that the perspective of the Victims Group is brought before the Inquiry.4. As a victim of sexual abuse, my perspective includes the following:

a. If I had received help in dealing with the consequences of my abuse earlier on, my life would have been different. I would have felt less ostracized and my feelings of shame may have been minimized.

b. When the Church and School Board became aware of the behaviours of Father Deslauriers in 1986, they may have stopped or controlled him, thereby preventing his further abuse of other victims.
Impact of the Abuse

5. As a result of this sexual abuse I lost my childhood. I struggled to come to terms with what had happened and I turned to drugs and alcohol to help me cope.

6. My poor coping mechanisms have hampered my ability to work as I have needed time off to deal with the emotional trauma that I have experienced. As a result, I have had difficulties maintaining gainful employment and am in debt as I struggle to financially support my family.

7. I have tried to deal with depression and have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

8. Despite prior devotion to the Catholic faith, being abused by a Catholic priest has resulted in a complete loss of my religious faith.

9. Since the abuse and the failure of any form of institutional response, I have lost trust in authority figures and institutions. I have not been able to form intimate relationships.
Failings of the Institutional Response

10. In July 1986, Father Deslauriers plead guilty and was convicted of 11 counts of gross indecency and other sexual misconduct. He received a sentence of two years probation.

11. At no time have I ever been offered any psychological counselling or support by the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall to help me deal with the consequences of the abuse that I suffered at the hands of Father Gilles Deslauriers.

12. When I was abused by Father Gilles Deslauriers, he was Chaplin of La Citadelle, the high school which I attended. When the Conseil Scolaire De District Catholique De L’Est Ontarien learned of my abuse, in January 1986, they did not offer me any support or counselling. They did not assist me in any way and as a result of their action, I felt ostracized from the Church community. I felt ashamed and guilty which shame and guilt I have carried all my life.

13. I have come to learn that had I received early assistance from the Church, school and psychological counselling, the impact of the abuse upon my life would have been less.

14. I believe that further details of my first hand experience as a victim dealing with the Cornwall police and justice system, which is the focus of Part I of this Inquiry, would be beneficial information for the Inquiry. I believe that my experiences and those of other victims must be canvassed by the Inquiry in order for it to fulfill its mandate.

15. My detailed experiences dealing with the police and justice institutions could be obtained by my testimony or the provision of a summary of my experiences. The provision of either would be most effective if counsel were provided to me as it would be to other victims.
Clinical Support

16. I am currently receiving limited psychological help in dealing with the abuse that I endured at the hands of Father Gilles Deslauriers.

17. While I am currently satisfied with the level of support that I am receiving, I verily belief that there are others in the Victims Group who are not receiving the support that they so desperately require.

18. I verily believe that I will continue to require psychological support and counselling to help me deal with the emotional trauma I have suffered as a result of the abuse.

19. As a first hand victim of sexual abuse, I verily believe that it is crucial that my perspective be brought before the Inquiry. Therefore, I have a direct interest in the outcome of this Inquiry and, as part of the Victims Group, have a substantial interest in ensuring the objectives of this Inquiry are met.

20. I further understand that I have the potential for a civil action or application for criminal injuries compensation and that those legal rights may be impacted by my participation within the Inquiry. Accordingly, I believe that I need access to legal counsel, as do other victims like me, in order to fairly participate without detrimental impact upon my civil and administrative remedies.

21. Having personally experienced the depths of the impact of sexual abuse and the related institutional failings, I, like other victims have the greatest motivation to see the system corrected and improved.

22. I strongly believe that there is no greater advocate for systematic improvement of the treatment, handling, and prosecution of sexual abuse cases than the victims themselves.

23. One of the devastating effects of my sexual abuse has been my inability to maintain gainful employment. I have been clinically diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As such, I am currently enrolled in a self-employment program provided by Human Resources Development Canada and earn an income in the monthly amount of $1,400.00. This is my only source of income. Therefore, in order to participate and be adequately represented at the Cornwall Inquiry I require that Ledroit Beckett, as my counsel of choice, receive funding to represent my interests without which I would otherwise be unable to participate in the Inquiry.

SWORN BEFORE ME at the City of Cornwall, in the United County of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry, this 18th day of October, 2005

A Commissioner, etc. Benoit Brisson

MEDIA Coverage

Church considered another payout

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:34:35 EDT AM
Trevor Pritchard

Eight years before David Silmser’s $32,000 payout became public in 1994, church officials considered negotiating a similar settlement with another abuse victim, the Cornwall Public Inquiry heard yesterday.

Sr. Claudette Pilon was one of three people assigned by the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese to look into sexual abuse allegations against Rev. Gilles Deslauriers in 1986.

Among the witnesses the ad hoc committee -which also included Msgr. Bernard Guindon and diocesan lawyer Jacques Leduc – met with was Benoit Brisson, one of Deslauriers’ victims.

Pilon said the committee was “really afflicted” after hearing Brisson’s story and wanted to come up with a way to help him.

“We discussed the fact it might be possible to give him some money and to also ask him for confidentiality,” said Pilon, who testified in French.

“But this was not actually the chosen solution.” Pilon said the specific amount the committee discussed was $32,000. She told commission lawyer Pierre Dumais she couldn’t remember whose idea the settlement was.

In September 1993, Silmser agreed to accept $32,000 from the diocese in exchange for not pursuing charges against Rev. Charles MacDonald. MacDonald had allegedly abused Silmser decades earlier when he was an altar boy at St. Columban’s Church in Cornwall. He was charged by the Ontario Provincial Police in 1996 with sexually abusing a number of boys, but the charges were stayed six years later after a judge ruled they’d taken too long to go to trial.

Leduc represented the diocese in those negotiations.

Silmser wasn’t named when the first media reports about the payout surfaced in January 1994, and Pilon said she originally believed Brisson was the recipient of the money.

“I thought right away of Benoit,” she said. Deslauriers pleaded guilty in November 1986 to abusing Brisson and three other Cornwall teens between 1979 and 1981. He was given two years’ probation.

Pilon is scheduled to retake the stand when the inquiry resumes today at 9:30 a. m.

Priest ‘not prepared’ to deal with allegations of abuse

Cornwall Standard Freeholder

22 July 2008

Posted By Trevor Pritchard


A North Stormont clergyman told the Cornwall Public Inquiry he was “not at all prepared” to handle abuse allegations he received in the 1950s and 1960s against his fellow priests.

Msgr. Réjean Lebrun, who was ordained by the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese in 1962, told a lawyer for a community group he didn’t turn over complaints against Paul Lapierre, Lucien Lussier, and Carl Stone to the authorities because of his inexperience.

“I was not at all prepared for that type of situation,” said Lebrun, 73.

“It was completely beyond me.”

Testifying in French, Lebrun told the inquiry – which is probing how institutions like the diocese handled allegations of sexual abuse from decades earlier – that Lapierre was the vicar in the parish where he grew up.

It was there, Lebrun said, that he first heard rumours Lapierre had assaulted another youth.

Lapierre was found guilty in 2004 by a Quebec judge for assaulting a 13-year-old Montreal boy in the 1960s. He had previously been charged and acquitted in Ontario.

Lebrun said he tried to divulge the rumours to the victim’s mother after Lapierre’s trial, but she didn’t want to hear them.

“That was the end of that story,” Lebrun said. “So I did not follow up.”

Lebrun said he also received an allegation against Stone in 1965 from a Cornwall high school student.

Stone – who died two years ago – had left the diocese in 1963. Lebrun said when he went to another priest for an explanation for Stone’s departure, the priest threw his hands up and said “young boys.”

Lebrun also said he learned of a relationship between Lussier and another boy “in very little detail” during a meeting with Lussier’s parishioners sometime around 1967.

Lussier was charged in September 2007 and again in January 2008 with indecent assault charges going back five decades. His case is still before the courts.

Peter Wardle, an attorney for the Citizens for Community Renewal, suggested that in the 1960s, the clergy viewed sexual abuse allegations as something “the bishop was dealing with.”

It was likely Lebrun wouldn’t have felt obligated to go to the police or the Children’s Aid Society, Wardle said.

“You’re absolutely right,” said Lebrun. “I only had three years’ experience. I was a very, very new priest.”

Lebrun told Dallas Lee, an attorney for The Victims Group, he also learned of an allegation against a fourth priest, Hollis Lapierre, in the 1960s.

A young man in his 20s had come for advice on whether it was all right to sleep with his same-sex lover. When Lebrun said it wasn’t, the man replied: “So what do you do with Father (Hollis) Lapierre, who plays with the young people?”

Lebrun said he was “really angered” by the allegation, which he delivered to the bishop’s office.

Hollis Lapierre, Paul Lapierre’s brother, died in 1975.

Lebrun testified there was still no official protocol in place two decades later when allegations surfaced against another priest, Gilles Deslauriers.

Deslauriers pleaded guilty in November 1986 to four counts of gross indecency and was sentenced to two years’ probation.

“We were profoundly shocked,” said Lebrun. “It was the first time we had to manage such a crisis. We were lost.”

Lebrun was the priest at the former St. John Bosco parish from 1972 until 1987, and knew Deslauriers from the time he boarded there while he was chaplain at la Citadelle, a local high school.

One of Deslauriers’ victims told police that Deslauriers would molest him in his office, stopping temporarily as Lebrun walked by.

Lebrun said he never saw the abuse happen. “The windows were frosted,” said Lebrun. “I never saw anything, really. I never heard anything.”

After the allegations against Deslauriers became public, rumours spread through the parish without any official statement from the bishop’s office, Lebrun said.

Still, then-bishop Eugene LaRocque was saddened by the situation and wanted to take action, Lebrun said.

“I don’t remember the exact words but I remember enough to tell you that Msgr. LaRocque was deeply troubled by these events,” he told Lee.

Over the next decade-and-a-half, Lebrun would take part in many meetings with the goal of hammering out a protocol for dealing with abuse complaints.

He helped craft the diocese’s 2003 guidelines, and said Monday that he regretted not having a similar protocol to refer to decades earlier.

“Had I had the knowledge I have today, the guidelines I have today, the protocol I have today, it’s clear that the reactions I would’ve had would be very different,” Lebrun said.


Inquiry Victim In The Dark About Apparent Treatment Of His Abuser

Cornwall News AM 1220

October 11, 2006 — Therapy was a significant line of questioning at the Cornwall Public Inquiry during victim Benoit Brisson’s cross examination. Lawyers for the diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall asked Brisson if he was aware Father Gilles Deslauriers was in counseling. Brisson says no one ever told him or his family this was happening. Following the question, the diocese entered a letter into evidence. It was dated April 1986 and was addressed to Brisson’s parents from former bishop Eugene Larocque. It says Deslauriers had been removed from his ministerial duties for the diocese of Gatineau-Hull and he receiving care and treatment. Brisson could not confirm his parents received such a letter. He came forward about the abuse he suffered in the late 1970’s at the hands of Deslauriers in January or February of 1986.

Inquiry Hears About Trust Issues From Abuse Victim

Cornwall News AM 1220

October 11, 2006 — He says he is having trouble trusting people. That from sex abuse victim Benoit Brisson who is sharing his story today at the Cornwall Public Inquiry. Brisson’s mother and ex-wife testified earlier at the hearings, but we didn’t hear from Benoit until today. He was sexually abused by Father Gilles Deslauriers while growing up in Cornwall in the late 1970’s. Brisson says since the abuse, he has difficulty trusting people. He says he has lost trust in authority figures and institutions. Brisson points to the abuse as the major factor in his failed marriage with Denise Deslauriers.

Abuse destroyed marriage: ex-wife; Sex attacks against Ben Brisson turned life of happiness together into divorce

Terri Saunders

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 – 10:00

Local News – On a cold January day in 1986, Denise Deslauriers got the shock of her life: her husband of less than two years was leaving her and their infant daughter.

Sadly, it was not the only shocking piece of news Benoit Brisson would deliver to his wife on that day. He would go on to tell her he was having trouble coming to terms with the emotional aftershocks of the abuse he’d suffered at the hands of a trusted family friend, the man whom the couple had stood before in 1984 when they pledged to love each other forever.

That was, however, not to be, thanks to Rev. Gilles Deslauriers.

“The life I thought I was going to live didn’t happen,” Denise told the Cornwall Public Inquiry Tuesday. “We (she and Benoit) are no longer. That is a consequence of what happened.”

Deslauriers, who is no relation to Denise, would go on to plead guilty in the fall of 1986 to abusing Brisson and three other Cornwall boys. For Brisson, the abuse lasted three years – from 1977 when he was 16 to 1980 when he was 19.

In the weeks and months which followed her husband’s disclosure of abuse, Denise said she approached Deslauriers as well as then-Bishop Eugene LaRocque to talk about what happened to Brisson. She said she was shocked by the response she received.

“(There was) a complete lack of comprehension of the seriousness of what was going on (on their part),” Denise said, “and of the impact, the consequences of the actions of one of their (priests).”

In the spring of 1986, officials within the diocese established an ad hoc committee to look into the allegations against Deslauriers and Denise had a chance to speak about the abuse her husband had suffered and what actions the church should take.

“I was . . . angry at that time and suffering a great deal,” Denise said.

“Knowing that somebody with that predisposition, somebody who might be a pedophile (could continue) in a position where he would have access (to young people) and contact (with them) through his official functions as a priest – to me, that was completely illogical and unacceptable.”

Deslauriers was, in fact, continuing in his role as a minister, and was transferred from the local diocese to a diocese in Gatineau-Hull, Que.

Denise said family members opted to approach area media outlets to tell their story before Deslauriers was charged by police because of what they perceived as a lack of action on the part of the diocese.

“I did not feel supported (and) Benoit had absolutely no faith,” she said.

“He didn’t trust the system at all.

“There was no attempt to involve us; to inform us.”

Under cross-examination by diocese lawyer Andre Ducasse, Denise conceded meetings with LaRocque as well as her and Brisson’s inclusion in discussions among members of the ad hoc committee did, in fact, constitute an attempt to involve the family in the work of the church related to the Deslauriers matter.

Before leaving the witness stand, Denise had a few recommendations as to how the church could better handle abuse allegations in the future, including the development of a protocol to ensure transparency, the involvement of families in the process and an increase in sexual abuse and abuse of power awareness.

“When there are allegations of abuse, I think it is always wise to give the benefit of the doubt to the most vulnerable – children,” she said.

The inquiry was in session only during the afternoon Tuesday. Although Brisson had originally been scheduled to testify Tuesday, commission staff opted to move his appearance to today in order to devote an entire day to his evidence.

cornwall public inquiry; Brisson, another sex abuse victim, has already had the chance to tell his story

Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Terri Saunders

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 – 10:00

Local News – Ben Brisson isn’t like a lot of other sexual abuse victims who will take the stand at the Cornwall Public Inquiry in the coming months.

For one thing, Brisson’s abuser, a city priest who was his family’s trusted friend, confidante and spiritual adviser, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting him and three other Cornwall boys in the 1970s and 1980s.

Also Brisson has, in some respects, had a chance to have his say about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Rev. Gilles Deslauriers, and on more than one occasion.

In the spring of 1986, Brisson and his family decided to go public about the abuse after they felt the matter was being ignored by officials with the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese.

Within months following the public revelations, Deslauriers would plead guilty to four counts of gross indecency and be sentenced to two years probation.

Prior to the guilty pleas being entered, Brisson and other victims told their stories during a preliminary inquiry on the charges against Deslauriers.

So when Brisson takes the stand today at the inquiry, he will do so ahead of dozens of victims and alleged victims whose abusers were never charged, never convicted or never even identified.

On Thursday, Brisson’s mother, Lyse, broke down in tears several times as she recounted the effect the three years of abuse Ben suffered between the ages of 16 and 19 in the late 1970s had on her family.

For Ben, the abuse resulted in a life filled with textbook-like emotional difficulties faced by adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Failed marriages laid in his wake; he drifted from job to job, about 20 in all by his estimates; he struggled with who he was and why this had happened to him.

In fact, it was the breakdown of one his marriages which served as a precursor for the disclosure of the abuse to this family.

It was in January 1986 Ben called his mother to tell her he was separating from his wife, Denise.

A couple of weeks later, Ben told both his parents about being repeatedly abused by Deslauriers at a time when the priest was giving him guidance and helping him deal with troubles he was having as a typical teenager.

“I remember feeling stupid it happened, and I felt for some reason that maybe I could have done something to stop it,” said Ben, in a November 2005 interview with the Standard-Freeholder. “But I just wanted his help so much.”

Ben said the priest used the guise of therapy to abuse him.

“I just remember he introduced sexual abuse as part of the healing process,” Ben said. “Of course, here I was, thinking it was going to make me better.”

Three years after the abuse began, Ben realized the man he thought was his saviour was actually the opposite.

“Here I was, this kid, with all these problems, low self-esteem, and he was going to make me feel better about myself,” said Ben, who is now 45 years old.

“It turned out he was hurting me more than anyone ever would or ever could.”

“I just remember he introduced sexual abuse as part of the healing process.”
ID- 223873

Bishop sorry for suffering

Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Terri Saunders

Friday, October 06, 2006 – 10:00

Front Page – Nearly 30 years after her son was sexually abused by a priest, a mother was reduced to tears Thursday when a bishop offered a formal apology for her family’s suffering.

Lyse Brisson had just finished testifying at the Cornwall Public Inquiry about the abuse her son, Benoit, suffered at the hands of Rev. Gilles Deslauriers over a three-year period in the late 1970s and its impact on her family when an attorney for the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese came to the microphone and began to speak.

“(Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher) apologizes for the pain you have suffered at the hands of a priest in whom you put so much trust,” said David Sherriff-Scott. “The bishop wants to assure you personally that he and the members of the diocese want to learn from these events.”

Tears streamed down the 73-year-old woman’s face as Sherriff-Scott told her Durocher would like to work with families such as hers to further address abuse issues in the community and establish ways to better handle similar situations in the future.

“He (Durocher) wants you to know that he’s watching your testimony today,” said Sherriff-Scott, “and that he hopes and prays that the pain that you have experienced will not be in vain.”

While on the witness stand Thursday, Brisson talked about the time her son told her he had been abused by a priest whom the family held in high regard. It was in early January 1986 when Ben called to tell her he was separating from his wife.

“(He said it was) on account of a person who had caused him problems,” said Brisson, “but he couldn’t tell me who it was at that time.”

Within a couple of weeks, Ben visited his parents and told them he had been sexually abused by Deslauriers over a three-year period, beginning in 1977 when he was 16 years old and the priest was serving as a chaplain at a city high school.

Brisson said Deslauriers had been a close friend of the family, had shared in celebrations and had even married some of her seven children. She said she contacted the diocese and spoke to a priest there who told her Bishop Eugene LaRocque was out of town.

“He (the priest) said, ‘Leave it with me. We can pray about it. Just leave it to me,'” said Brisson.

She said initially the family thought they could deal with the matter within the church, but she said in time, after no action was taken on the part of the diocese and Deslauriers relocated to a diocese in Gatineau-Hull, the family decided to take matters into their own hands.

They contacted the media and within days, Ben’s story was broadcast on local television and radio stations. Just as quickly, Brisson said, police informed the family two officers had been assigned to investigate her son’s allegations.

Within months, Deslauriers was arrested and charged with 16 sex-related offences involving a number of young boys in the Cornwall area. By the time his matter was set to go to trial, the number of charges had dropped to 11, but just before the trial was set to begin, the priest pleaded guilty to four counts of gross indecency involving four boys, one of whom was Ben.

The judge in the case handed Deslauriers a sentence of two years probation.

“(You were told of) the sentence the judge had ordered,” said Pierre Dumais, commission counsel.

“Well,” said Brisson, “if you can call that a sentence, yes.”

“You didn’t agree with the sentence?” asked Dumais.

“It was so vague,” said Brisson. “We didn’t know what was going on.” In the days following the decision, Brisson received a visit from the two police officers who investigated her son’s case.

“What were their impressions of the sentence?” asked Dumais.

“I think it was the same as mine,” said Brisson. “I don’t think they were satisfied with what had happened.”

In the years following the case, Brisson said the suffering her son endured and the resulting lack of action on the part of the church caused great emotional damage to her family, including Ben’s six siblings.

“Our children felt betrayed by all of this,” she said. “Everything which had been taught to them was meaningless.”

Brisson broke down in tears when she was questioned about her family’s involvement with the church today.

“Two of my children have resumed their religious practice,” said Brisson, frequently wiping the tears from her cheeks, “and the others have abandoned the faith.”

“This is very important to you?” asked Comm. Normand Glaude. “To be a practising Catholic?”

“Well, for my husband and myself it actually strengthened our faith,” said Brisson.

“For our children, it was quite the opposite.”

The inquiry will resume Tuesday when it’s expected Ben Brisson will take the stand.

Man charged with threatening family that accused priest

The Ottawa Citizen

05 June 1986

Dan Karon

CORNWALL – An 80-year-old Cornwall man has been charged with making a threatening phone call to an area family that has accused a Catholic priest of sexual abuse.

Lucien D’Aoust, charged with uttering a threat to Lise Brisson of Cornwall Township, is to appear in provincial court here Friday.

Cornwall police were assisted in their investigation by Bell Canada after the Brisson family complained about receiving threatening calls.

Police refused to give further details, but the charge sheet indicates the family was threatened with injury.

The Brisson family declined comment.

Two weeks ago, the Brissons made public allegations of sexual abuse against a former Cornwall priest – now in the Gatineau-Hull Diocese – because church officials broke their promise to keep the priest out of active duty.

Benoit Brisson in January told his parents that eight years ago he was molested by a priest during self-confidence therapy sessions.

Their subsequent complaints led Cornwall-Alexandria Bishop Eugene LaRocque to set up an internal investigation, and on Feb. 13 the priest resigned from his Cornwall parish.

LaRoque has refused to comment on the subject.

A week after the Brissons made their complaints public, the Gatineau-Hull Diocese said the priest had been removed from active ministry.

Cornwall police are investigating the Brissons’ complaints.

Police officials said their investigation will be a lengthy one because they are looking into other complaints.

Accused priest ends posting in Hull church

The Ottawa Citizen

30 May 1986

Jacquie Miller and Anne McIlroy Citizen Staff writers

The Catholic priest a Cornwall family said sexually molested their son has left a Hull parish and entered a religious retreat.

Officials at the Gatineau-Hull diocese continue to refuse all comment on the affair, but a member of the church’s parishioners’ committee confirmed Thursday that the priest was no longer at the church.

In Nepean, meanwhile, police detectives have returned empty-handed from Michigan where they were sent to interview a Nepean Catholic priest alleged to have molested four boys.

Insp. Ron Lamont said Thursday the priest refused to talk to police about the complaints. He said he was acting on the advice of his lawyer.

The priest is at a centre in Michigan for alcohol abuse treatment and a psychological assessment.

Cornwall police Insp. Rick Trew said Thursday charges may be laid against the priest who has just ended a temporary assignment in the Hull parish.

At the Hull church involved, parishioners are still awaiting an explanation from Bishop Adolphe Proulx, one member said.

The priest was an assistant to Proulx before he went to Cornwall a number of years ago.

Earlier this month a Cornwall family accused church officials of breaking a promise to keep the priest out of active church duties after disclosure of alleged sexual improprieties with Cornwall youngsters eight years ago.

On Feb. 13, the priest resigned from a Cornwall parish.

Alexandria-Cornwall Bishop Eugene LaRocque told the Brisson family the priest had been removed from the ministry to receive corrective therapy in the Gatineau-Hull diocese.

When the family discovered the priest was working in the Hull parish, the Brissons decided to go public.

Asked Thursday if he deliberately misled the Brissons, LaRoque said he had no comment, and hung up on a Citizen reporter.

Lise Brisson, who says her son was sexually assaulted by the priest eight years ago, said she is satisfied now the man has left the Hull parish.

“We’re not so much concerned with him as we are with the victims. We hope he can be healed,” said Brisson.

The priest, who refused to comment on the complaints, left the Hull parish last Friday, the parishioner said. He said the parish will hold a meeting shortly on the matter.

A 22-year-old Vancouver man, who once lived in Cornwall, has also told The Citizen the priest sexually assaulted him four years ago at a weekend religious retreat.

On the same day the priest left the Hull parish, Proulx released a short statement saying he was looking into the allegations and had no comment to make on the matter.

Nepean police say the priest who has gone to Michigan was not legally obliged to answer questions from police or make a statement.

Even if he is charged, he can refuse to speak to police, said Lamont.

The detectives went to Michigan Tuesday and returned Wednesday night.

Lamont said it will likely be Monday before police decide whether sexual abuse charges will be laid against the priest. The Crown attorney handling the case is away at a conference this week, said Lamont. Police don’t want to complete their investigation without consulting with the Crown’s office, he said.

The police investigation began in April when a group of parents complained to Nepean police.