Justice Lalonde tap dances his way into an acquittal for Father Paul Lapierre
[There was a publication ban on the name of the victim. His name was replaced by John Doe – any other remarks which might identify him were replaced by XXX . The publication ban has been lifted. The victim “John Doe” is Claude Marleau.
The following are a few excerpts from Justice Paul Lalonde’s 13 September 2001“Reasons for Judgement” (acquittal) of Father Paul Lapierre. I have grouped and categorized sections and in some instances made comment and/or raised questions below in italics.]
1. The Charges
- “The accused stands charged that he, Paul Lapierre, between the 21st day of March in the year 1964 and the 30th day of June, 1968, at the Town of Alexandria and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario did indecently assault a male person, to wit; John Doe, contrary to Section 148 of the Criminal Code of Canada;
“And count number 2. And further the accused stands charged that he, Paul Lapierre, between the 21st day of March, 1964 and the 30th of June, 1968, in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario did indecently assault a male person, to wit; John Doe, contrary to Section 148 of the Criminal Code of Canada;
“Count number 3: And further the accused stands charged that he, Paul Lapierre, between the 21st day of March 1964 and the 30th of June, 1968, in the City of Cornwall and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario did indecently assault a male person, to wit; John Doe, contrary to Section 148 of the Criminal Code of Canada;
“Count number 4: And further the accused stands charged that he, Paul Lapierre, between the 21st day of March, 1964 and the 30th day of June, 1968, in the Town of Alexandria and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario did commit an act of gross indecency on a male person, to wit; John Doe, contrary to Section 149 of the Criminal Code of Canada;
“And finally count number 5: Further the accused stands charged that he, Paul Lapierre, between the 21st day of March, 1964 and the 30th day of June, 1968, in the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and elsewhere in the Province of Ontario did commit an act of gross indecency on a male person, to wit; John Doe, contrary to Section 149 of the Criminal Code of Canada.”
[Comment: The referenced sections of the Criminal Code are those which were the law of the land at the time the alleged offences took place. During the 6os (until 1969) Sections 148 & 149 read:
Section 148: INDECENT ASSAULT ON A MALE. Every male person who assaults another person with intent to commit buggery or who indecently assaults another male person is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for ten years and to be whipped.
Section 149: ACTS OF GROSS INDECENCY. Every person who commits an act of gross indecency with another person is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for five years.]
2. Justice Lalonde believes most of John Doe’s evidence
- “John Doe’s evidence, for the most part, withstood vigorous detailed and lengthy cross-examination. Any internal inconsistencies were peripheral and they enhance his credibility. The inconsistencies dispelled the notion that John Doe’s evidence was fabricated.”
- “The testimony of the complainant was the product of a well-disciplined intellect reflecting his legal training. His testimony did not offend common sense. It was not contrived or embellished. For all these reasons, it had the ring of truth and is accepted in the final analysis.”
3. Justice Lalonde believes little of Father Lapierre’s evidence
- “Turning to the evidence of the accused, I had the opportunity to observe him in the witness stand, and having reviewed his testimony in great detail, I only believe small parts of his evidence. Most of his evidence does not have the ring of truth.”
- “There were often anomalies revealed by the evidence of the complainant that tend to prove Mr. Lapierre was not logical when he claimed to have minimal contacts with John Doe.”
- “I have heard the evidence of John Doe and reviewed it many times. I cannot say I disbelieve him. I cannot say I believe the defence’s version of events either.”
4. Justice Lalonde says he just doesn’t know who to believe
- “I will never know for certain if Mr. Lapierre’s knowledge of John Doe came from direct contacts with John Doe or from discussions he held with other priests at the Classical College in Cornwall, or through what he heard from third parties in the confession box.”
- “If the judge believes the accused most of the time, he or she must acquit . . . . If I am unsure or if I am not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, the benefit of the doubt must go to the accused and not to the Crown.”
- “I want John Doe to know that I believe what he said. As Justice Kruzick said in R. v. K ((R.) ‘I simply do not know.’ John Doe said the sexual assaults occurred, Paul Lapierre said they did not.”
[Does the latter statement make an ounce of sense? I believe you but I don’t know if I can believe you. Ridiculous!]
5. Lalonde believes John Doe raises questions about his testimony
- “Unfortunately, John Doe . . . did not mention to police authorities his 1993 visit to Paul Lapierre in Montreal.”
[I believe Lalonde’s comments reflect the judiciary’s abysmal lack of understanding of male victims of same-sex sexual abuse, particularly as it pertains to cases of historical sexual abuse. In this instance John Doe, a lawyer, finally got the where-with-all to ‘come forward’ and disclose that he had essentially been passed around like a used toy from one alleged paedophile to another, i.e., Roche Landry, Dr. Peachy, Sandy Lawrence and Fathers Don Scott, Hollis Lapierre, Kenneth Martin, Rene Dube and Paul Lapierre. And Lalonde hones in on the fact that at that time John Doe allegedly failed to mention that he had visited Lapierre in Montreal in 1993?]
- “There was also a change in the evidence of John Doe at trial as to the location where the sexual acts took place on the St. Lawrence River. At first it was at Little Hog Island, and then John Doe agreed with counsel that it took place at Cameron Island.”
[Ditto the above comments.]
- “It is difficult also to avoid thinking that John Doe’s evidence has some parts in it that are not reliable. He does nothing about reporting his abuse during four visits he has with Paul Lapierre, then on reading a newspaper in Quebec City one day and finding out about Project Truth he wants to do something about it.”
[Ditto the above. Male victims of same-sex sexual abuse frequently remain silent for 10 to fifty years before they ‘come forward.’ It is not uncommon that those who were groomed and seduced are confused about the abuse and struggle with the fact that on one hand they were given gifts, alcohol, cigarettes and other favours by their molester while on the other they hated the sexual acts. Neither is it uncommon for victims of clerical sexual abuse to be married by their molester and/or have their children baptized by him. The trigger to ‘come forward’ and finally address the sexual abuse varies with the victim.
And incidentally John Doe testified that one of his visits to Lapierre was to address the issue of the sexual abuse. For reasons which I won’t go into that mission was not accomplished ]
- “It is noteworthy that John Doe does not mention the name of Paul Lapierre at first in July of 1997 when he is at Lancaster.”
[Is this a vague inference that John Doe threw Lapierre into the hat for good measure? John Doe was attempting to disclose the years of childhood sexual abuse he endured with a series of prominent men, priests included. Not an easy task. And Lalonde expects instant disclosure of everything?
Does he have any idea what most of these men go through tying to drum up the nerve to speak up in the first place, and then to actually speak about speak about their abuse? This is too ridiculous.]
- “The event at the Glen Walter cottage happened quite differently than related by John Doe. Paul Lapierre testified several persons were present, and there was a farewell party for Father Roland Leger. I referred to him a while ago as Ronald Leger – I am not sure if he is Roland Leger or Ronald Leger but, in any event, I think the parties know who I am referring to – and this farewell party for Father Leger was held in Cornwall on XXXX Street at a neighbour’s house, and a neighbour to John Doe’s parents, and that evening the party continued at Guy Leger’s cottage at Glen Walter. Guy Leger is the brother of the departing Father Leger. John Doe confirmed he had been drinking that night in all probability, however he could not tell me that this event took place the same night as Father Roland Leger’s farewell party in Cornwall. He could not tell me how he was transported from Cornwall where he attended the main function for Father Leger to Guy Leger’s cottage in Glen Walter. Maybe Mr. Lapierre is correct that other persons were present at the cottage that night, including Father Leger.”
[Unbelievable. Of course Lapierre said it happened quite differently – that’s the way he testified in his frequently contradictory and confused testimony which Lalonde found lacked “the ring of truth.” But – Lalonde believed Lapierre’s version of events!
Father Leger is Father Ron Leger csv, a Viatorian priest who taught at the Classical College.]
- “John Doe could not tell me how he was transported from Cornwall to the retreat house at Alexandria, the first episode of sexual contact narrated by John Doe. The event in Alexandria could have happened as described by Mr. Lapierre, that John Doe was brought to the retreat house by Roland Chevrier. This version would be consistent with John Doe’s description of the room, as I related a while ago in his evidence, and Mr. Lapierre’s information could have come from Mr. Chevrier or from other third parties to the effect that it was Mr. Chevrier who had sex with John Doe.”
[Again, unbelievable. Lapierre’s finger-pointing worked!]
6. Lalonde shows his lack of familiarity with male victims of historical sexual abuse and expresses interest in a statute of limitations.
- “My assessment of the evidence leaves me with a conflict, and as unsatisfactory as it may be, that is not unusual, especially in historic sexual cases involving only two persons who would be able to identify the truth, John Doe and Paul Lapierre. Maybe, just maybe one day the Criminal Code will be able to impose a limitation period for sexual offences. It would mean an earlier denunciation by the victims, an earlier closure of sad episodes in their lives, and evidence that can be more easily investigated.”
[Changing the statute of limitations will not encourage victims of man/boy sexual abuse to come forward earlier. In the first place, most victims don’t have a clue about statutes, but that aside, for a number of reasons they unfortunately just aren’t able to address the abuse in a more timely fashion. Imposing a statute of limitations would simply play into the hands of those who advocate and practice man/boy sex while ensuring that men who molest boys are secure in the fact that their victims probably won’t ‘come forward’ until after the statute of limitations has expired and they can just carry right on molesting one young lad after the other.]
7. Lalonde does a big tap dance on group sex before concluding that John Doe was definitely molested.
- “I did decide that if the events that took place with Father Don Scott, John Doe and Mr. Lapierre took place, if, as described by John Doe, the charges would be made out without the necessity for the Crown to call evidence on community standards. However, I am left with a doubt, not whether or not the event happened, but, if it did happen, was it with Mr. Lapierre or a third person. The facts presented in this case are very disturbing. There is no doubt that John Doe was abused, and that abuse took away precious years of his life. John Doe managed with the help of his wife […] to turn his life around. He went through hell to bring this matter to trial and hopefully gained closure on a sorrowful past affecting his formative years.”
[Lalonde is referencing a group-sex incident involving John Doe and Fathers Don Scott and Paul Lapierre which was described in court by John Doe. I will spare you the details – they’re not pleasant. Father Lapierre denied it ever happened, just as he denied ever sexually abusing John Doe while he busily pointed fingers at everyone else whom he said did. But for some strange reason Lalonde, who claimed he believed very little of Lapierre’s evidence, believed Lapierre’s denials. Had Lalonde believed John Doe Lapierre would have been behind bars. It’s as simple as that.
Another point: I think it would be interesting to try to comprehend how Lalonde managed to acquit Lapierre and at the same time conclude that John Doe was indeed sexually molested. What made him conclude that John Doe was sexually abused? Was it Lapiere’s testimony? or John Doe’s testimony? Either way it’s a bit of a contradiction isn’t it?
And Lalonde says John Doe “went through Hell to bring this matter to trial”? What matter? Was John Doe sexually molested by Lapierre or was he not?
And what “sorrowful past”was Lalonde talking about?
As for closure, Lalonde and his fellow Project Truth trial judges acquitted every one of John Doe’s ‘alleged’ molesters who stood trial. So who does Justice Lalonde think molested John Doe?]
- “As we have seen by the world events yesterday, in our haste to punish we must not hurt the innocent. An accused is presumed to be innocent until the Crown has proven his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
[Lalonde is referring to 9/11.
It is disconcerting that Lalonde politicizes the trial and attempts to rationalize his ruling by drawing a parallel between the innocent who were killed in the Twin Towers and Father Lapierre: there is no parallel. I also find it interesting that Lalonde says that in our haste to punish we must not hurt the innocent. The other side of the coin of course is that in our reluctance to punish we will invariably hurt the innocent, i.e., the John Does who will be standing in a court of law seeking justice twenty, thirty or forty years downstream trying to understand why we as a society did nothing to shield them from the known and suspect sexual predators who destroyed their innocence and raped their souls.]
8. “I must acquit”
- “After reviewing the evidence, I must acquit. I have endorsed the indictment as follows: on count number 1, not guilty; on count number 2, not guilty; on count number 3, not guilty; on count number 4, not guilty; on count number 5, not guilty.
“I wish to commend counsel in the way they handled a very sensitive matter. Mr. Godin, Mr. Peris, Mr. Johnson, you all worked hard and you were a very great help to me.”
[Lapierre was eventually found guilty in his Montreal sexual abuse trial. The victim in that instance was also John Doe.
Do we conclude that Lapierre sexually abused John Doe in Montreal and never laid a hand on him in the Cornwall area?]