Gaetan F. Deschamps
Diocesan priest. Ordained 17 June 1956. Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario – was incardinated in Diocese of Prince Albert Saskatchewan. Serving in the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall since the early 1990s. Sexual abuse allegations against him reported to bishop of Prince Albert, Blaise Morand in June 2007. Deschamps denies the allegations.
I have spoken to a Saskatchewan man who alleges sexual abuse by Father Deschamps. I believe him. He had reasons for not wanting to come forward publicly.
During the summers of the 60s and possibly beyond Father Deschamps visited family in Cornwall. Deschamps made the trip by car and was frequently accompanied on the 4,000+ mile return trip by one of several young boys from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
The following flyer was distributed in areas of Cornwall:
|Bishops of Diocese of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan from time of Father Deschamps ordination: Léo Blais (o4 July 1952 -28 February 1959); Laurent Morin (28 February 1959 – 09 April 1983 ) ; Blaise-Ernest Morand (9 April 1983 – 26 May 2008) ; Albert Privet Thévenot, M. Afr. (26 May 2008 – – )Bishops of Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall: Rosario L. Brodeur (27 July 1941 – 15 October 1966 ); Adolphe E. Proulx (28 April 1967 – 13 February 1974); Eugene Larocque (June 1974-27 April 2002); Paul Andre Durocher (27 April 2001- 12 October 2011 )
Auxiliary bishops Diocese Alexandria-Cornwall: Jacques Landriault (15 May 1962 – 27 May 1964); Joseph-Aurèle Plourde ( 30 July 1964 — 02 January 1967)
|Father Deschamps and the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall’sFamily Life Ministry(the following pages were posted on the Alexandria-Cornwall diocesan website for months. There was no change for several months after “action”was taken to deal with the sexual abuse allegations against Father Deschamps. The website was checked 31 August 2007 prior to posting these pages)31 August 2007:
Diocesan website – Other Support groups (including Spectrum)
Diocesan website Bible Study
Diocesan website: Movements and Groups
Diocesan website: Seminars
|The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Directories (CCCD) which I have available, media (M) and personal information (P)2013: apartment address
2009: Member of Board of Directors for Ontario Conference of Separated and Divorced
2007: Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall Coordinator of Services for the diocesan Family Life Ministry (The Doves, Retrouvaille, Rainbows, Joy of Living, Spectrum, Études bibliques / Bible Study, Loving Choices, Après la Rupture, Inner Bonding) Contact name for Marriage Encounter and Engaged Encounter.)
Contact person for Spectrum described on diocesan website as a “ support curriculum for adolescents who live in single parent families or stepfamilies.”
prepared children at Sacred Heart School in Cornwall Ontario for confession
1998: The sole priest on the coordinating team of the Canadian Secretariat for the Canadian Worldwide Marriage Encounter Movement (M.E.is considered a lay movement. However priests are required to provide spiritual direction, oversee the preparations for an M.E. weekend, attend the weekends, offer Mass at the weekends and post M.E.weekend gatherings, and give talks on the weekends and after. Father Deschamps would have been the clerical contact and priest responsible for overall M.E. movement in Canada)
1993 to 2002: In Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario. Living in Cornwall. Address consistently that of Nativity Co-Cathedral, Cornwall. (Father René Dubeé pastor at cathedral until 1994, Father Rejean Lebrun pastor from 1995) There is record of Father Deschamps officiating at funerals at Nativity.
Father Deschamps seems to have assisted at various parishes in the diocese. It is known that he spent some time at St. John Bosco (Cornwall) and Blessed Sacrament (Cornwall).
Known additional responsibilities in diocese in those years:
1991 & 1992: Address 2-20th Street, Prince Albert, Sask. Listed as a Diocesan consultor. (CCCD)
Somewhere in this time frame spent time at Southdown, Ontario. It is known that in 1991 he was unable to officiate at the wedding of a family member. This would seem to indicate he had had his faculties removed for a period of time. (P)
around mid 80s to around 1990: Pastor at St., Vital in Battleford, Saskatchewan (P). I was told that he used to tell parishioners he wanted to retire to Cornwall, his home town. According to this source, some time after Deschamps left there was talk that he had been accused of sexual abuse,
1985-86: Not listed in directory
1983-1986: Pastor at St. Mark RC Church Prince Albert:
1973-74: Hospital chaplain, Prince Albert (CCCD)
1971-72: Not listed in directory (CCCD)
1968-69: Studies in Ottawa, Ontario (CCCD)
1967: Professor at St. Mary’s College, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (CCCD)
During the summers of the 60s and possibly beyond Father Deschamps visited family in Cornwall. Deschamps made the trip by car and was frequently accompanied on the 4,000+ mile return trip by one of several young boys from Prince Albert.
Richard Hickerson, then a Marianist priest, definitively served in the Diocese of PA between 1964 and 1966 – probably much longer. Hickerson later surfaced in the Cornwall as an employee of Canada Manpower. (P)
Actively involved with the St. John Bosco Boy’s Camp which was founded in 1958. I believe actually he may have been the camp’s founder or co-founder. (P)
1959: Catholic Directory gives address as Notre Dame College, Prince Albert Saskatchewan (Diocese of Prince Albert). Elsewhere in directory as serving at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Prince Albert. (Father Luc Meunier was in the Diocese at Marsden, Saskatchewan at the same time) (CCCD)
|Open season on priests?Cornwall Standard Freeholder Saturday, September 01, 2007 – 08:00
Local News – A Cornwall priest has been “retired” by the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese because a man in Prince Albert, Sask. claims he was assaulted by the priest many years ago in that community.
No charges have been laid. Repeat. No charges have been laid. In fact, police in that city weren’t even aware of the complaint.
The dilemma for the priest: How do I defend myself against this kind of vague, but very public accusation? At least when criminal charges are laid, an accused person has the opportunity to defend himself in a public criminal court.
However, this claim is being tried in the cruel court of public opinion, where fairness and the theory that one is innocent until found guilty aren’t considerations.
According to the alleged victim, he only wanted the priest removed from the job.
Policy (post Project Truth reaction) required the bishop to “retire” the priest and make the “retirement” public. It’s the Achilles heel of a policy aimed at transparency.
In this case it just feeds the rumour mill and tarnishes a sterling reputation.
What is true is that if this wasn’t a case involving a Roman Catholic priest and the Project Truth backdrop, it wouldn’t be making the classified spill page, let alone the front page.
The open season on priests has been extended.
Standing behind ‘Father Gates’
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Saturday, September 01, 2007 – 08:00
Local News – A number of Blessed Sacrament parishioners are standing by a priest in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against him.
Rev. Gaetan Deschamps has retired amidst an allegation he sexually abused a man several decades ago in the diocese of Prince Albert, Sask.
However, Deschamps has denied the allegation and has not been charged by either the Cornwall police or the Prince Albert police.
Originally from Cornwall
Deschamps, 76, who according to parishioners, is originally from Cornwall, moved to Prince Albert and worked in the region for 40 years after he was ordained in 1956.
Bud Guilbeault, a Eucharist minister with Blessed Sacrament, and his wife got to know Father Gates, as they affectionately called him, quite well in the five years he was with the Cornwall Catholic church.
Father Gates, Guilbeault said, was semi-retired when he moved back to his hometown to be closer to his family and was only called upon to preside over Blessed Sacrament because there weren’t enough priests.
“He was a very active, very hard-working person,” Guilbeault said.
He figured Deschamps spent about half of his time presiding over the church and the other half being involved in committees with the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese, including the marriage preparation course he taught.
“It’s just very unfair for someone to anonymously make complaints that aren’t corroborated,” Guilbeault said.
“I just can’t see any of that happening – I’ve know Father Gates for five years.”
Roy Lefebvre, a parishioner who has been going to the church since the late 1970s, said he feels he got to know Father Gates fairly well.
“He was unusually conscientious, and very sensitive to (our) concerns,” Lefebvre said. “He was a very dedicated priest.”
Judy Bergeron, who has been attending the church since 1973, met Father Gates after he was appointed to the ministry in 2001.
“He is very kind and generous and has shown empathy, especially towards the less fortunate in our area,” she said, adding that Deschamps helped her and many others through “very difficult” times in their lives.
“It is appalling that an individual claiming anonymity can make serious accusations against another person without ever having made any formal complaint to our justice system,” she asserted.
The Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese issued the press release earlier this week advising the public that Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher had received notice of the allegation from the Bishop with the Prince Albert Diocese.
Durocher attested there have never been any complaints about Deschamps received by the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese.
Deschamps complied with the wishes of the complainant and retired from all active ministry.
Sask. police are examining abuse allegations
Thursday, August 30, 2007 – 08:00
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Local News – Prince Albert, Sask., police are now looking into allegations a Cornwall priest sexually abused a boy decades ago while he resided in that region.
“This is totally new to us,” said Insp. Howard Georgeson, with the Prince Albert Police Service, who added the police are obliged to look into the complaint.
The Alexandria-Cornwall Catholic Diocese issued a press release Tuesday stating Rev. Gaetan Deschamps was retiring amidst these allegations.
However, Deschamps denies the accusations and has never been charged under any jurisdiction for this complaint.
Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher said he was informed by the bishop from the Prince Albert Diocese of the complaint of historical sexual abuse.
Georgeson explained that he would follow up on the press release by trying to find out whether a complaint had been lodged with the police organization with jurisdiction outside the city.
Unlike in Ontario, where rural areas would fall under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Provincial Police, there is no provincial police force in Saskatchewan. The RCMP would handle anything that would fall outside of city limits.
The inspector said it’s “prudent as a police organization we will look into this.”
According to the press release from the diocese, the complainant “wished to have this issue dealt with in confidence” and “simply wanted to ensure that Father Deschamps is no longer involved in ministry.”
Deschamps moved to Cornwall about 10 years ago and presided over Blessed Sacrament, a church in the city’s north end, for five years until 2006. He was also involved in a marriage preparation course.
Priest Denies Abuse Allegations
Cornwall News AM 1220
August 29, 2007 — A Cornwall priest, accused of historic sex abuse, has retired from active ministry while denying the allegations. The Alexandria – Cornwall Diocese, in a statement released to the media, says the accusations were leveled against Father Gaetan Deschamps by a complainent in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. A bishop there recently informed local Bishop, Paul Andre Durocher of the allegations of abuse which would have allegedly occurred many decades ago. According to the release, the complainant was a minor at the time of the alleged incident and wanted to have the issue dealt with in confidence and simply ensure Deschamp was no longer involved in ministry. Deschamp has been living in Cornwall the past 10 years and denies any criminal acts related to the complainant but has accepted to retire from all active ministry. He has never been charged in relation to the complaint. The Cornwall police and C.A.S. both were made aware of the situation. The complainant has since expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.
Priest becomes target of sex abuse allegation
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Wednesday, August 29, 2007 – 08:00
Rev. Gaetan Deschamps, who is believed to be in his 70s, has been with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall for the past 10 years, working part-time as a marriage counsellor.
The ministry Deschamps specialized in didn’t deal specifically with young children, said Diocese Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher.
However, on the website for the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, it states that Deschamps oversaw a support group called “Spectrum,” which is described as a curriculum for “adolescents who live in single-parent families or stepfamilies.”
Deschamps has never been charged in relation to this incident. When confronted by a diocesan delegate from Alexandria-Cornwall, Deschamps denied any allegations against him.
There have also never been any complaints received about him by the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, the bishop said.
The Cornwall Police Service and the local Children’s Aid Society were notified, however, the complainant’s wish was to ensure Deschamps was no longer involved in the ministry.
Deschamps complied, the bishop told the Standard-Freeholder in an interview, and is now retired.
When contacted Tuesday evening the Prince Albert, Sask. police could not provide any information regarding the allegations concerning Deschamps.
Deschamps could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Deschamps was ordained under the Prince Albert Diocese and the majority of his ministerial work was done there, Durocher said.
When he arrived in Cornwall, he was semi-retired, Durocher added.
“He never asked to become a member (of the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese).
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary there.”
Deschamps, who once wrote a column in the Standard-Freeholder and was involved in fundraising for the Children’s Christmas Fund, had retired from parish ministry last year because of his age.
Prior to that, he was appointed as a priest at Blessed Sacrament in the city’s north end in 2000.
Durocher said he was contacted by Bishop Blaise Morand from the diocese in Prince Albert a few weeks ago, advising him of the complaint of historical sexual abuse.
The diocese issued the press release with an eye to keeping the ministry open and transparent, Durocher said.
In June 1992, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a document, entitled “From Pain to Hope,” in which they discussed how churches should deal with allegations of sexual abuse from members of the clergy.
The document advised ministries to be open in the wake of sexual abuse allegations.
“One of the objectives of ‘From Pain to Hope’ was to overcome the shroud of secrecy around these issues,” Durocher explained. “This is what we’re trying to do.”