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David Silmser was “allegedly” sexually molested by Father Charles MacDonald and probation officer Ken Seguin, an ex-seminarian. He was also molested by Marcel Lalonde, a Roman Catholic school teacher.
Nine months and no charges later the diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, then under the helm of Bishop Eugene Larocque, and Father Charles MacDonald hushed Dave with a $32,000 out-of court settlement. The settlement was found to contain an illegal cause which mandated Dave to tell Cornwall police he did not want to pursue criminal charges against Father Charles MacDonald. The $32,000 was held in escrow until that was accomplished.
This was the first sign of cover-up.
Father Charles MacDonald’s lawyer, Malcolm MacDonald, was eventually charged with obstruction of justice, pled guilty and received an absolute discharge from Judge B. W. Lennox.
Malcolm MacDonald died before standing trial on a number of sex abuse charges.
Jacques Leduc, the lawyer for the diocese in negotiating the pay-off, went to trial on sexual abuse charges. His first trial was a travesty of justice: it ended in a stay. An appeal sent him back to trial. At his second trial he claimed his right to a speedy trial had been violated. Justice W. Dan Chilcott agreed. Leduc “walked.”
The seeds of the Cornwall scandal are rooted first in Dave Silmser’s sex abuse allegations and then in the subsequent actions of former Constable Perry Dunlop.
When he discovered that his force, the Cornwall Police Service, was no longer investigating Silmer’s complaint and that Silmser had been paid off Dunlop fulfilled his legal obligation to protect children by giving a copy of David Silmser’s victim statement to the Children’s Aid Society..
22 March 2007: Dave Silmser Letter to Justice Norman Glaude
(Three-page letter – second last para: “And so Mr. Commissioner, I will not return to take the stand and subject myself to further abuse from a panel of lawyers whose sole purpose is to discredit me by any means possible in a misguided effort to protect the interests of either abusers or institutions that were aware of abuse but failed to act. ‘)
David Silmser testimony at the Cornwall Public Inquiry
19 April 2007: David Silmser transcript; 18 April 2007: David Silmser transcript; 17April 2007: David Silmser transcript ; 28 March 2007: David Silmser transcript ; 28 February 2007: David Silmser transcript; 07 February 2007: David Silmser transcript; 06 February 2007: David Silmser transcript ; 05 February 2007: David Silmser transcript ; 01 February 2007: David Silmser transcript; 31 January 2007: David Silmser transcript; 30 January 2007: David Silmser transcript
The Beginning of it all
-finds David Silmser seems like a credible person
Discredit the Victim
21 December 1992: Malcolm MacDonald to Msgr. Donald McDougald
– “Malcolm” identifies himself as lawyer for Father Charles MacDonald
– Malcolm references what he calls David Silmser’s “lengthy criminal record” ( in truth petty theft which started with theft from parish immediately after sexual abuse by priest)
– Years later Malcolm entered guilty plea to charges of attempt to obstruct justice in this case.
– Malcolm MacDonald died in Fort Lauderdale before standing trial to charges of sex abuse of boys
February 1993: David Silmser Victim Statement
02 September 1993: Full Release and Undertaking not to Disclose
(the now infamous illegal $32,000 pay-off. According to Silmser $10,000 was paid by the diocese, $10,000 by Father Charles MacDonald, and $12,000 by insurance) SIN number has been redacted. Para 2 is the illegal clause. It is illegal to prevent anyone from pursuing criminal charges or causing them to terminate any criminal action in progress.)
02 September 1993: Certificate of Independent Legal signed by Sean Adams
Sean Adams later testified that he read and explained the contents of the Full Release and Undertaking not to Disclose to David Silmser but did not see the illegal clause. (Silmser testified that he later paid Adams $400 cash)
02 September 1993: Malcolm MacDonald to Sean Adams re escrow
Malcolm MacDonald letter to Sean Adams re cheque for $32,000 to be held in escrow until David Silmser advises police he does not want to proceed with charges.
03 September 1993: Malcolm MacDonald to Det. Sgt.Luc Brunet 03 Sept 1993
Malcolm MacDonald (lawyer for Father Charles MacDonald) letter to Det. Sgt. Luc Brunet (Cornwall police) containing copy of Certificate of Independent Legal Advice prepared by Sean Adams, solicitor for David Silmser. , and signed by David Silmser)
09 September 1993: Staff Sgt. Lucien Brunet to Crown attorney Murray MacDonald
Brunet seeks advice re Silmser advising he no longer wants to proceed with criminal charges
14 September 1993:Crown attorney Murray MacDonald reply to Staff Sgt. Lucien Brunet
The Crown discredits Silmser and in the process refers to the pay-off as the “so-called” settlement, and states that Silmser had charge laid for “monetary gain”
Silmser directs further inquires to his lawyer Sean Adams
21 February 1994: Staff Sgt. B.F. Wells to David Silmser
– signed by Leo Courville, chairman of the Board
– whether by accident or design the chronology of events in the press release omits, misrepresents and/or provides erroneous information regarding the “investigation” of the David Silmser sex abuse allegations against Father Charles MacDonald and probation officer Ken Seguin. In addition, despite the fact that various documents indicate that by 11 January ’94 the CPS had conducted an investigation of Perry Dunlop’s actions and concluded no discipline would be imposed the press release implies otherwise. Indeed it
(1) very publicly casts the actions of Perry in a negative light,
(2) directly or indirectly implies that his actions are at the heart of “all” outstanding issues which demand resolution, and
(3) directly or indirectly invites David Silmser to file a complaint against Perry Dunlop.
11 January 1994: Silmser’s lawyer Bryce Geoffrey to CPS Chief Carl Johnston and Cst. Heidi Sebalj re legal action regarding release of David Silmser’s victim statement
Bryce Geoffrey hand-delivered letter threatening legal action – addressed to Cornwall Police Service Board, acting Chief Carl Johnston and Constable Heidi Sebalj. At this time Geoffrey was not yet aware that the diocesan hush deal was illegal. Nor did he seem to be yet aware that David Silmser accepted the pay-off only after being told in August 1993 that Father Charles MacDonald would not be charged. On the same day Leo Courville, chairman of the Cornwall Police Service Board, issued the following deceptive press release which omits to mention that an internal investigation had concluded that Perry acted in good faith and no disciplinary action would be taken.
21 February 1994: CPS Public complaint form referencing public complaint filed 21 January 1994 by David Silmser against Heidi Sebalj
Click here for several relevant media articles commencing 07 January 1994.01 March 1994: Children’s Aid Society to Father Charles MacDonald advising that CAS investigation has concluded he did sexually molest David Silmser.
31 August 1994: Dr. John Bradford affidavit – the doctor says based on David Silmser’s victim statement there were reasonable grounds to believe at the time that other children were currently being molested.
14 August 1996: David Silmser/Carson Chisholm – Dave clarifies some issues and provides a few important details
07 April 2000: Constable Perry Dunlop Will State (his official account of events). For the time being I have posted only the first 25 pages.
MUST READ! 22 March 2007: David Silmser Letter to Justice Normand Glaude (hand-delivered to the Weave Shed Monday morning, 26 March 2007) (this is a Word document)
26 March 2007: Commission Counsel Peter Engelmann email to Clint Culic (David Silmser’s lawyer) in response to David Silmser’s letter addressed to Justice Normand Glaude. (This is a Word document)
28 March 2007: Lawyers’ Response at the Weave Shed to David Silmser’s letter to Justice Normand Glaude
29 March 2007: Justice Normand Glaude ruling on merit of David Silmser letter
01 February 2007: The Incident at the Weave Shed (Thursday )
14 February 2007: Lead commission counsel Peter Engelmann letter to all parties re complaints re cross-
08 January 2005: BLOG Where does solicitor-client privilege fit into the equation?
Church considered another payout
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 9:34:35 EDT AM
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.
Media Coverage at the Cornwall Public Inquiry
26 August 2008: Priest admitted he engaged in homosexual acts, says LaRocque
12 June 2008: Priest admitted to gay ‘incident,’ not sex assault
05 February 2009: Silence is deafening: Perry Dunlop Could Have Been The Star Attraction At The Inquiry
28 June 2008: Diocese had doubts on claim: Church official felt details were withheld or forgotten
27 June 2008: Landry Sr., priest cases in ‘different ballpark’: Repa
12 June 2008: Priest admitted to gay ‘incident,’ not sex assault: Ex-chief disputes interpretation of his notes at Cornwall inquiry
09 April 2008: Cornwall cop defends his honour
08 April 2008: CAS not notified of alleged abuse; City police officers didn’t think it was necessary with comments
05 April 2008: Negotiations ‘concerned’ police
04 April 2008: Brunet defends decision to place Sebalj at head of Silmser investigation
04 April 2008: Cornwall Police Officer Notes Concerns Over Out Of Court Settlement
03 April 2008: Coverup rumours ‘obscene’ says veteran cop
01 April 2008: Costly inquiry into Ont. sex abuse allegations extended into fall
27 February 2008: Timeline: the Silmser investigation
14 February 2008: Cop: Cornwall probe bungled from start
20 April 2007: Dunlop, Silmser contact would have been crux of questions
19 April 2007: Unfamiliar area for lawyers
17 April 2007: Silmser videotape played at inquiry
29 March 2007: False statements at Project Truth inquiry: Errors in “victim” transcripts call credibility in to question
29 March 2007: Cornwall Public Inquiry: Silmser may get last word
28 March 2007: Silmser writes to Project Truth inquiry
28 March 2007: Silmser pens letter to Glaude
22 February 2007: Silmser may not return to inquiry
21 February 2007: Alleged Victim Might Not Finish Testimony
21 February 2007: Abuse victim unlikely to return to inquiry
20 February 2007: Abuse victims complain about grilling at Cornwall inquiry: Accused need equal treatment, lawyer says
17 February 2007: Diocese will seek more money; Sifting through documents is taking its toll on some parties
09 February 2007: Public inquiry anything but easy thus far
08 February 2007: Silmser brings another halt to inquiry
08 February 2007: The Inquiry’s Toll
07 February 2007: Silmser Does Not Re-take Stand At Inquiry
07 February 2007: Coffee Break: Public inquiry lumbers along at a snail’s pace
07 February 2007: Silmser struggles with reasons for penning letter to MacDonald
07 February 2007: Witness steps away from inquiry stand again
06 February 2007: Witnnesses not on trial: Truth inquiry judge
06 February 2007: Witnesses not on trial: Glaude
06 February 2007: Letter to Father MacDonald questioned
05 February 2007: Silmser poster-boy for child sex abuse fallout
05 February 2007: Silmser tells srory of abuse to cop following traffic stop
05 February 2007: Silmser back on the stand
05 February 2007: Will Alleged Victim Finish Testimony At Inquiry?
03 February 2007: Lawyer unsure if Silmser will return
02 February 2007: Silmser should return (Editorial)
02 February 2007: Testifying at inquiry can often bring pain similar to abuse itself
02 February 2007: Inquiry witness storms out
02 February 2007: Witness bolts from sex abuse inquiry
01 February 2007: Witness storms out of public inquiry
01 February 2007: Frustration Boils Over At Inquiry
01 February 2007: Cornwall Inquiry: Silmser difficult to deal with: cop
31 January 2007: A culture of disbelief: Alleged abuse victim
Project Truth Inquiry told allegations not believed for years
31 January 2007: Justice Not Served Says Alleged Victim
30 January 2007: It’s costly getting to the Truth: Cornwall sex abuse inquiry tab at $8M and climbing
30 January 2007: CAS believed Silmser was abused: letter
30 January 2007: Witness Questioned About Settlement At Inquiry
30 January 2007: Recipient of $32,000 payout begins testifying at public inquiry
30 January 2007: Inquiry wants ex-cop to talk
30 January 2007: Inquiry Witness Claims Church Tried To Cover Abuse Allegations
29 January 2007: Church payment to be looked at
29 January 2007: Central figure in inquiry to take stand today