Few secrets at Project Truth Inquiry

Judge denies another priest publication ban, but more legal wrangling ahead

Ottawa Sun Online

28 November 2006

By Canadian Press

CORNWALL — Another priest has lost his battle to keep his identity secret at a public inquiry probing the institutional response to allegations of child sexual abuse here.

Commissioner Normand Glaude dismissed a motion by the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese seeking a publication ban on the identity of a priest expected to be mentioned during the course of testimony at the hearings this week.

Following the ruling, lawyers for the diocese said they will seek a judicial review of the decision, so Glaude has put in place an interim publication ban on the priests’ identity until Thursday at 5 p.m. The diocese has until then to seek a stay of the ruling while it waits for the Ontario Divisional Court to review the decision.

The interim ban prevents the media from reporting the priests name or any identifying factors related to him.

A witness is expected to testify this week about abuse he says he suffered as a young boy in the Cornwall area in the 1960s. The media will not be permitted to publish the priests name and a simultaneous Internet broadcast of the hearings will be suspended for portions of witness testimony which deal with the priest in question.

If the divisional court upholds Glaudes ruling, the media would be permitted to then publish the priests identity and any information the inquiry heard about allegations made against him during testimony.

On Nov. 17, Glaude dismissed a similar motion brought forward by lawyers representing Rev. Charles MacDonald at the hearings. The inquiry is costing city police triple the $750,000 originally set aside this year.

As of Sept. 30, the inquiry had cost Cornwall Community Police Service about $1.5 million, detailed a third quarter report by Deputy Chief Danny Aikman. And Aikman expects monthly legal costs will remain at about $250,000 for the rest of the year — pushing the total for 2006 to about $2.25 million.

“(The city) won’t be able to afford this unexpected burden — and next year there will be even more,” said police board chair Phil Poirier. “The (provincial) government should start to realize that — rumour has it — the (overall) cost could be as high as $40 to $50 million.”