Sex-probe publication ban remains in place: Judge recuses himself after suggestions past work could bias him

Ottawa Citizen
01 December 2006

Neco Cockburn
A publication ban at the Cornwall sex abuse inquiry protecting the name of an Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic diocese employee will stay in place until next week, after a judge withdrew from hearing the matter yesterday.

Commission lawyer Peter Engelmann asked Justice Denis Power to recuse himself because of his involvement as a lawyer in civil legal proceedings about 10 years ago that involved a central witness. The witness will testify in January at the inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in the Cornwall area.

Circumstances surrounding the civil proceedings between 1995 and 1997 were very important to the OPP-led Project Truth investigation and the ongoing commission, Mr. Engelmann argued. He said witnesses had raised concerns over Judge Power’s involvement, adding any public perception of bias could cause problems for the inquiry, which is looking into the institutional response to, and police investigations of, the sexual abuse.

The Ontario Divisional Court was scheduled yesterday to hear arguments regarding the extension of a temporary publication ban on the diocesan employee’s name. The ban was put into effect while Commissioner Normand Glaude decided whether the employee’s identity should be protected.

The employee was charged and acquitted in relation to allegations of abuse by witness Claude Marleau, who is expected to tell the inquiry this week that the employee was among a number of people who abused him.

After Judge Glaude dismissed a motion to protect the employee’s identity, diocesan lawyers were in court yesterday to ask for the continuation of the publication ban — which was to expire at 5 p.m. — until a judicial review of Judge Glaude’s ruling was heard by the Divisional Court.

The Citizen and the CBC are among parties seeking to have the ban lifted. A hearing on the issue is now scheduled to take place next Thursday, ater a new judge has been found.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marleau is expected to finish testifying before the inquiry today. The inquiry is not sitting next week.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2006