4 Jan 2011

Former Ontario priest guilty of abusing altar boys arrested for violating bail, diocese and ex-Bishop sued for neglect

The Globe and Mail - Canada October 7, 2010

Priest who confessed to child abuse re-arrested

by Adrian Morrow

A former Catholic priest who pleaded guilty in March to sexually abusing three boys has been arrested on allegations he violated his bail conditions while awaiting sentencing.

Donald Grecco, 70, was taken into custody Wednesday in Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario. Ontario Provincial Police confirmed the arrest, but declined to provide other details, such as which condition Mr. Grecco is accused of breaching.

The abuse took place between 1978 and 1986, while Mr. Grecco was a priest at churches in Cayuga, a small town in the Niagara peninsula, and Welland. The victims were altar boys.

One victim, Mike Blum, 46, announced a lawsuit against the ex-priest earlier this week. [see below] He is also suing the diocese of St. Catharines and former bishop James Wingle, who stepped down shortly after Mr. Grecco's guilty plea.

In his statement of claim, Mr. Blum alleges the diocese didn't do enough to assist him after he came forward with abuse allegations in 2005 and that the family of another victim informed the church of Mr. Grecco's indiscretions in 1986.

The claims have not been tested in court.

Mr. Grecco left the priesthood before Mr. Blum approached the diocese.

The diocese has not responded to The Globe and Mail's requests for comment.

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The Globe and Mail - Canada October 4, 2010

Man sues former priest, ex-bishop in abuse case

by Adrian Morrow

A 46-year-old man is suing a former Catholic priest who pleaded guilty earlier this year to sexually abusing him and two other boys. Also named in the suit are the Diocese of St. Catharines, which he says did nothing to help him when he complained of the abuse, and former bishop James Wingle, who resigned shortly after the ex-priest, Donald Grecco, pleaded guilty.

The suit claims a total of $3-million in damages. The diocese did not respond to requests for comment Monday evening; Mr. Grecco could not be reached for comment.

“The burning question is what the diocese knew and when,” said Robert Talach, a lawyer for the man, Mike Blum.

When the abuse began in 1978, Mr. Blum was a teenage altar boy who helped out with odd painting jobs at his parish church in Cayuga, Mr. Talach said Monday. He said it lasted roughly a year and a half.

In 2005, he told the diocese about the abuse, shortly after Mr. Grecco had left the priesthood. He claims nothing came of his complaint, so he went to the police in 2008. The resulting investigation led to criminal proceedings and Mr. Grecco’s guilty plea in March. The ex-priest is awaiting sentencing.

Mr. Blum is currently on disability, unable to work as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder, Mr. Talach said.

In April, the bishop abruptly resigned, citing only a lack of “stamina” in a letter to parishioners.

“I believe that my resignation will serve not only my own spiritual and personal well-being, but the good of the diocese and the Church as well,” he wrote. “If my shortcomings and limitations have caused any disappointment, I ask for God’s mercy and your understanding.”

It is not clear why the bishop resigned or exactly what post he took up afterward. His only official statement since his departure from the diocese, a letter released in July, said he had been in the Holy Land on sabbatical and that he was writing and researching a project.

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The Globe and Mail - Canada April 7, 2010

Southern Ontario bishop resigns

The Canadian Press

The Roman Catholic bishop of a southern Ontario diocese has unexpectedly resigned his post.

Bishop James Wingle says in a letter to the Diocese of St. Catharines that the Pope has accepted his resignation, effective today.

Bishop Wingle, 63, writes that he can no longer “maintain the necessary stamina to fulfill properly my duties.”

No further explanation is given for his resignation.

In his letter, posted on the diocese's website, the bishop also writes, “if my shortcomings and limitations have caused any disappointment I ask for God's mercy and your understanding.”

He was installed as the diocese's bishop in January 2002.

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1 comment:

  1. Niagara bishop who disappeared amid abuse case found in Montreal

    by ISHANI NATH, Globe and Mail May 19, 2012

    The ornate downtown cathedral was preparing for the inauguration of Montreal’s new Archbishop, but the private investigators waiting outside weren’t there for the ceremony. They were waiting to serve court papers to the former leader of St. Catharines’ Roman Catholic church, a man who resigned and disappeared two years ago amid a growing sex-abuse scandal in his diocese.

    The investigators had to time it perfectly. “Once he was on hallowed ground, we could not serve him,” said Rob Talach, one of the lawyers pursuing Bishop James Wingle in a civil lawsuit, explaining that in Quebec, no one can be served court documents on religious property or during a religious holiday.

    Mr. Talach works for Ledroit Beckett Litigation Lawyers in London, Ont. The law firm hired the private investigators to help track down the bishop. Based on internet photos and public sources, they determined that he was either in Ottawa or Montreal. It wasn’t until they came across this photograph of Bishop Wingle walking in a religious procession in Montreal that they planned the stakeout.

    The now 65-year-old bishop, with white hair and a matching white clerical collar, showed up at Montreal’s Mary Queen of the World Cathedral at 6:50 p.m. on April 27, and before he could enter he was served with a notice of the civil lawsuit related to the sexual abuse of altar boys by former priest Donald Grecco.

    Mr. Grecco, who served in Welland, Ont., and Cayuga, Ont., pleaded guilty in March of 2010 to sexually abusing three altar boys between 1978 and 1986. The incidents were brought to the Niagara region Roman Catholic church in the 1990s and early 2000s, during Bishop Wingle’s leadership, but the victims allege that the diocese did not take appropriate action.

    Michael Blum, one of Mr. Grecco’s other victims, went to the diocese in 2005, but said in an interview that “they did nothing, they turned a blind eye.” He then took his case to the police.

    “This effort to hear from Bishop Wingle was to find out exactly what happened.” said Mr. Talach, the lawyer representing the 48-year-old Ontario man identified in court documents by his initials who is suing Bishop Wingle. “We want to know what he did or didn’t do when he learned of Grecco.”

    The victim behind the lawsuit was molested by Mr. Grecco, his local parish priest of the Diocese, when he was 15 years old.

    Shortly after Mr. Grecco pleaded guilty in 2010, Bishop Wingle resigned from the Southern Ontario diocese. Bishop Wingle, originally from Eganville, Ont., said he was “no longer able to maintain the necessary stamina” required to fulfill his duties.

    “If my shortcomings and limitations have caused any disappointment,” he wrote in his resignation letter, “I ask for God’s mercy and your understanding.”

    And with that, Bishop Wingle disappeared from the community.

    Bishop Wingle and Roman Catholic officials in Montreal and St. Catharines did not return requests for comment.