Last Updated Wed, 20 Oct 2004 11:28:53
CORNWALL, ONT. – A judge has stayed charges against a former lawyer for the Roman Catholic church who was implicated in a sex-abuse scandal that rocked the eastern Ontario city of Cornwall.
Justice Terence Platana ruled Monday that Jacques Leduc‘s Charter right to a speedy trial had been denied, placing much of the blame for the holdup on the Crown.
Jacques Leduc (file photo)
“The length of delay is in excess of six years. I clearly understand this is not an appropriate time period,” Platana said.
The charges against Leduc were stayed once before, in 2001, but the stay was overturned on appeal.
Leduc, once the lawyer for Cornwall’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese, was charged in June 1998 with multiple counts of sexual assault involving three teenaged boys. The crimes were alleged to have occurred from 1988 to 1996.
Leduc was the last of 15 people charged during a provincial police investigation called Project Truth, which looked into allegations of a pedophile ring involving some of the city’s most prominent men, including priests and lawyers. Some of the alleged crimes dated back to the 1950s.
The Crown successfully prosecuted only one man, who pleaded guilty to 12 charges in 2001.
In the other cases, the charges were stayed or the accused were found not guilty.
After the decision Monday, the 53-year-old Leduc spoke to reporters as police officers surrounded him for his own protection. He said he wants to get on with his life, acknowledging the toll the ordeal has taken on him and his family.
“Any grown man who’s accused of these awful crimes cannot ignore the impact on his life, and on the life of those he loves around him,” he said. “And I will live with that for the rest of my life.”
The conclusion of Leduc’s case could clear the way for a provincial inquiry, which has been promised by Premier Dalton McGuinty.