13 Feb 2011

Ontario diocese settles with 10 victims of pedophile priest who sexually assaulted them in the confessional booth

Montreal Gazette  -  Canada    February 4, 2011

Roman Catholic diocese to pay sex abuse victims $1.5 million

By Linda Nguyen  |  Postmedia News

A Roman Catholic diocese in Ontario has quietly settled 10 sexual abuse lawsuits in the past month, paying out more than $1.5 million in connection to allegations dating back more than 50 years.

All of the settlements involve male victims who allege they were repeatedly molested by two priests from the Diocese of London at parishes across southwestern Ontario.

The victims, who are now in their 60s and 70s, launched individual lawsuits last year, said London, Ont.-based lawyer Robert Talach on Friday.

"The book never really truly closes, but this is definitely a big step toward closure for some of them," he said. "Some of the gentlemen I dealt with waited half a century before they really spoke this aloud to anyone else. Coming out after all those years, it just goes to the fact to show how traumatic it is, that you wouldn't breathe a word of it for five decades."

The settlements were quickly reached between Talach and diocese officials following two days of negotiations. They range from around $100,000 to $315,000.

The diocese said it was "pleased" to have reached the settlements, and urged others who are victims of historical sexual abuse to continue to come forward.

"We are committed to living up to our responsibilities and obligations to victims of sexual misconduct in the search for justice and truth," said Mark Adkinson, a spokesman with the Diocese of London in an email. "We are sorry for all of the hurt these and other victims have experienced. We continue to offer counselling to all victims of sexual misconduct by clergy."

Most of the cases involve Father Lawrence (Laurent) Paquette, a priest who died in 1986 before any of these allegations were officially brought forward.

The sexual abuse occurred at various parishes Paquette worked at since he was ordained in 1943, with the majority in Grande Pointe, a small francophone community near Windsor, Ont.

The victims allege the sexual abuse was repeated over a period as long as two years while some of the boys were as young as 11.

The abuse with the early victims started with fondling and escalated over the years to "everything but sodomy," said Talach. All of the abuse occurred inside a confessional booth, which Paquette would attend with each boy once a month.

"This was a staunch Catholic French community. These boys knew they couldn't call in sick for a confession," he said. "They were in these private booths, which were a perfect context for the abuse to be perpetuated for years."

Meanwhile, one of the other lawsuits involves Father Barry Glendinning and a sexual abuse claim on a boy who was then 15, in the mid-1960s in Windsor, Ont.

This isn't the first molestation claim brought forward against the priest.

In 1974, Glendinning was convicted in relation to six counts of sexual abuse but continued to work across southwestern Ontario.

In 2004, a lawsuit naming him and the diocese resulted in a $1.4-million judgment for three brothers who were victimized by the priest as boys.

Glendinning was defrocked in 2006 or 2007 and is believed to be living in Toronto.

Talach said the effects of the abuse still linger for many of his clients, many whom have kept the abuse and the litigation a secret, even to their own spouses.

"Many dealt with drug, alcohol abuse, attempted suicides, educational and vocational failings," he said. "A lot of them stood out like a sore thumb from the accomplishments of their siblings, so clearly they had been struggling lifelong from the effects of the abuse.

"The bottom line is that it's too little, too late, but it's better than nothing."

Talach is still dealing with at least 200 more lawsuits involving sexual abuse claims against Roman Catholic clergy from Nova Scotia to Saskatchewan. More than a dozen of them involve the Diocese of London.

Last month, Eric Dejaeger, 63, returned to Canada to face six abuse charges allegedly committed on boys at least 30 years ago while he was a Roman Catholic priest in what is now known as Nunavut. He had been living in Belgium for the last 15 years.

In May 2009, the church paid a $1.745-million settlement to a victim of former Windsor, Ont., priest Charles Sylvestre. He died in January 2007 while serving a sentence for sexual assault after 47 women came forward with allegations of sexual abuse.

It was believed to be largest payout in Canada by the Roman Catholic Church to a victim of clergy abuse.

This article was found at:


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  1. Church warns that sanctity of confessional at risk in lawsuit

    Warns sanctity of confessional at risk

    by JOE GYAN JR, The Advocate July 08, 2014

    The Diocese of Baton Rouge warned Monday the sanctity of the confessional is under attack by a recent Louisiana Supreme Court ruling the church says might force a priest to reveal in court what was privately told to him.

    The case involves a young girl who claims she was sexually abused by a now-deceased church parishioner but that her confession to a local priest fell on deaf ears.

    The decision resuscitates a 5-year-old lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, the Rev. Jeff Bayhi and others, and gave the girl, now an older teenager, the green light to testify and introduce evidence of “her own confession.”

    At the same time, the state high court sent the case back to 19th Judicial District Court Judge Mike Caldwell, saying there is still a dispute “concerning whether the communications between the child and the priest were confessions per se and whether the priest obtained knowledge outside the confessional that would trigger his duty to report” sexual abuse allegations.

    In a strongly worded two-page statement posted to its website, the Baton Rouge Diocese says the religious implications cannot be overstated.

    “The Supreme Court of Louisiana cannot order the district court to do that which no civil court possibly can — determine what constitutes the sacrament of reconciliation in the Catholic Church,” the statement reads.

    “A foundational doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church for thousands of years mandates that the seal of confession is absolute and inviolable. Pursuant to his oath to the church, a priest is compelled never to break that seal. Neither is a priest allowed to admit that someone went to confession to him,” the statement continues.

    “If necessary, the priest would have to suffer a finding of contempt in a civil court and suffer imprisonment rather than violate his sacred duty and violate the seal of confession and his duty to the penitent.”

    Bayhi acted appropriately, the statement adds.

    The diocese, which said it will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, added that the matter “is of serious consequence to all religions, not just the Catholic faith.”

    The statement from the diocese refers to “the attempt by the plaintiffs to have the court compel testimony from Fr. Bayhi as to whether or not there were confessions and, if so, what the contents of any such confessions were.”

    But Brian Abels, an attorney for the girl’s parents, said Monday, “We are not trying to do that.”

    “No court has ordered him to testify about what he heard,” Abels said.

    Abels said the issue has always been about the girl’s testimony.

    “Our client can testify about what she said, regardless of where she said it,” he said in summarizing the state Supreme Court’s decision.

    Abels noted that the priest’s deposition has been taken. The diocese, however, said Bayhi did not disclose what was said in the confessional.

    continued below

  2. The lawsuit also names as defendants the girl’s alleged perpetrator, George J. Charlet Jr., who died in February 2009 at the age of 65, and Charlet Funeral Home Inc. Charlet was president of the company.

    Charlet was a well-known, longtime parishioner and active member of Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church in Clinton, where Bayhi was pastor, according to the Supreme Court opinion.

    The suit alleges Charlet began emailing the girl in the summer of 2008, and that the emails quickly increased in frequency and became “laced with seductive nuances.” The suit contends Charlet ultimately kissed and fondled the child.

    A phone message left Monday at the home of Charlet’s widow, Miriam Joy “Sue” Stelly Charlet, was not returned.

    In George Charlet’s obituary, which was published in The Advocate, he shared a message that read in part, “I am alright with my God. He knows my heart. I bet my life on Him. I ain’t worried.”

    The suit alleges the girl went to confession three times, telling Bayhi that Charlet had inappropriately touched her, kissed her and told her that “he wanted to make love to her.”

    The priest allegedly told her she needed to handle the situation herself because “too many people would be hurt” otherwise, the suit says. He also allegedly told her, “This is your problem. Sweep it under the floor and get rid of it,” the suit alleges.

    Charlet’s alleged abusive acts continued after the confessions, the suit adds.

    The Supreme Court opinion says various parishioners observed the seemingly inappropriate closeness between Charlet and the girl.

    The child’s parents filed a formal complaint against Charlet with the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office, but he died while the investigation was ongoing, the high court’s decision notes.

    Shortly before the trial of the suit was set to begin, the church filed a motion seeking to prevent the plaintiffs from “mentioning, referencing, and/or introducing evidence at trial of any confessions that may or may not have taken place.”

    Caldwell denied the motion. The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal not only reversed the judge but also dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims against the priest and church in their entirety.

    The Supreme Court reversed the appellate court and, in a concurring opinion, Justice Jeff Hughes emphasized that the issue of whether the communications were confessions must be addressed before the legalities can be resolved.

    “I believe the integrity of the sacrament must be protected to the utmost, not only for the sake of the participants, but to protect the ability of individuals to freely confess their sins,” he wrote. “I see nothing that prevents the child from testifying about her own communications to the priest.”


  3. Catholic seal of the confessional upheld as religious liberty issue

    Kimberly Winston | Religion News Service March 1, 2016

    A Louisiana judge has ruled that a state law requiring clergy to report child abuse or other crimes learned in the confessional is unconstitutional because it infringes on religious liberty.

    At issue is a long-running case involving Rebecca Mayeaux, a 22-year-old who claims that when she was 14 she told the Rev. Jeff Bayhi, a Catholic priest, during confession that a church member was abusing her. Mayeaux claims Bayhi told her to “sweep it under the rug.”

    In his testimony, Bayhi told state District Judge Mike Caldwell that he had no choice but to keep Mayeaux’s allegations private because of the inviolability of the seal of the confessional.

    Caldwell agreed and ruled Friday (Feb. 26) in favor of Bayhi.

    Confession is a Catholic sacrament in which a penitent recounts his or her sins privately to a priest, who then absolves them and usually sets up some regimen of penance, such as extra prayers.

    The confidentiality of the sacrament is considered so paramount that under church law a priest who reveals anything he hears in the confessional incurs automatic excommunication.

    The Louisiana State Children’s Code includes clergy among the “mandatory reporters” of suspected or known abuse. It makes no exception for the confidentiality of confession and specifically states that “notwithstanding any claim of privileged communication, any mandatory reporter who has cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare is endangered” must report it to authorities.

    Mayeaux’s attorneys pledged to appeal. The seal of the confessional has been challenged before, and at least one bishop has said he would violate it in favor of “the greatest good, the protection of innocent people.”