Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Thursday, June 07, 2007 – 08:00
News from across S, D and G – “It must be a terrible thing to be falsely accused of being a pedophile. I can’t imagine how a person could survive that experience intact.”
With those opening words, a man who was sexually abused by a former priest and music teacher compelled anyone listening to testimony at the Cornwall Public Inquiry to recognize and identify sexual predators and protect vulnerable children from harm.
The man, who cannot be identified due to a publication ban, testified at the inquiry Wednesday about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Richard Hickerson.
In delivering a statement about the impact of the abuse and recommendations as to how public institutions should handle allegations of abuse in the future, the man first expressed some sympathy for the falsely accused but quickly made certain nobody in the room extended that courtesy to his own abuser.
“I am here today to dispel any lingering doubts people might have about Hickerson,” the man said.
“He was the worst of the worst. I don’t know what happened to turn this ex-priest from Saskatchewan into a serial pedophile, but that’s what he was.”
The man was sexually abused by Hickerson on a number of occasions in 1966 when the man was in middle school.
During police interviews in the 1990s, Hickerson admitted to having what he called a “sexual relationship” with the boy, but suggested all he did wrong was not continue the relationship longer than he did.
Hickerson told police he was sorry the man was hurting and told investigators he regretted not staying longer in the boy’s life.
Police told Hickerson he was going to be charged with having sexually assaulted the man. Soon afterward, Hickerson committed suicide.
The man said he knew at a young age he was not heterosexual and was attracted to men.
It was this knowledge, along with the fact he was going through a period where he was sexually curious and seeking a sexual partner, that led Hickerson to abuse him, the man believes.
“He told me he was going to find me a boyfriend,” said the man. “I believed him.”
The man said society is set up in such a way that young gay men are often ostracized from their peers and rejected by other men in their lives who might otherwise have served as role models.
“The only role parents and society can play in a gay person’s life is whether they’ll produce a happy, healthy gay person or a miserable and self-loathing one,” said the man.
“Pedophiles use that ongoing conflict to their advantage. What easier subject to groom than one who’s been discarded by all the other males in a boy’s life?”
The man said he’s managed to establish a life for himself despite the abuse he suffered as a child, but the impact of the assaults will last forever.
“Nothing brings back the loss of innocence,” the man said. “Once that’s taken away from you the chance (of) coming into healthy human sexual experience is corrupted.”
The inquiry will resume June 18.