9 Jun 2011

Ontario Catholic priest who sexually assaulted his students for three decades sentenced to just two years

Toronto Star   -  Canada     June 9, 2011

Priest who taught at St. Michael’s College sentenced to 2 years for sex abuse

by Mary Ormsby  | Feature Writer

The Roman Catholic priest who routinely pulled boys out of class to sexually assault them at schools where he taught was sentenced to two years in prison on Thursday.

Rev. William Hodgson Marshall, 88, was led out of a Windsor courtroom after Ontario Court Justice Lloyd Dean also placed him on probation for three years, ordered that he report to police to be placed on the national sex offender registry and give a DNA sample.

Marshall, who taught at Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School in the 1950s, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 16 children — 15 boys and one girl — during his decades-long teaching career across Ontario. Four of the victims are from Toronto, at least one a former St. Mike’s student. There are six each from Sudbury and Windsor.

The earliest charge dates back to 1953, the later ones from the 1980s.

Most of the retired priest’s victims were students at all-boys’ high schools run by the Congregation of St. Basil, a Roman Catholic order of teaching priests. The Basilian fathers operate St. Mike’s, where at least one victim was assaulted in a private room at the school.

[read victim impact statement below]

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Toronto Star  -  June 8, 2011

Toronto priest pleads guilty to molesting children

by Mary Ormsby  |  Feature Writer

William Hodgson Marshall entered a Windsor courtroom Wednesday morning as a Roman Catholic priest, a championship basketball coach and a teacher of young men for half a century.

The 88-year-old left that afternoon as a criminal, an admitted sexual abuser of children — some of them former students, at least one the son of close friends — after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting 15 boys and one girl during his teaching career in Windsor, Toronto and Sudbury. He will be sentenced Thursday.

[read victim impact statement below]

The earliest charge dates back to 1953, the later ones from the 1980s.

Four victims are from Toronto, at least one of them a student at St. Michael’s College School in the 1950s where Marshall taught mathematics and coached basketball. There are six victims from both Sudbury and Windsor.

Most of Marshall’s victims were students at all-boys’ high schools run by the congregation of St. Basil’s, a Roman Catholic order of teaching priests. The Basilian Fathers, as the priests are more commonly known, operate St. Mike’s.

Windsor crown attorney Walter Costa said it was a “difficult, emotional day” with the reading of all the victim impact statements. But he hopes it was a cathartic experience.

“Now that (the victims) have been vindicated, hopefully that will give them the power and ability to enjoy themselves moving forward and not have to carry that secret burden any more.’’

A joint sentencing submission from the crown and Marshall’s lawyer Andrew Bradie requests a two-year prison term, three years probation and an order to report to the sexual offender information registry and provide a DNA sample.

The Basilians issued a statement from spokesperson Rev. Timothy Scott that read in part:

“The Basilian Fathers wish to express our deep shame that one of our members has acted this way. These criminal acts against children are a violation of our religious vows and are grievously sinful ... This should never have happened.”

Marshall’s decades-long string of sexual assaults on children went unreported for nearly 60 years until a 43-year-old Windsor man complained to police in May of 2010.

The retired priest’s long pattern of abuse raises questions about how Marshall was able to operate so brazenly, particularly since he routinely preyed on students during school hours.

“A perfect storm of factors” allows this to happen, said David Clohessy, the national director of U.S.-based non-profit group SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He said a church with a history of protecting offenders and a priest’s criminal guile help cloak molesters from outsiders’ scrutiny.

“You’ve got an amazingly shrewd and cunning predator. You’ve got savvy, secretive, powerful church officials. You’ve got timid lay people trained not to question the church hierarchy and I think you’ve got somewhat timid and passive law enforcement,’’ Clohessy said in an interview this week.

Clohessy has followed the Marshall case closely and said it’s unlikely the priest’s victim count was only 16.

“For every one victim who finds the courage, strength and ability to speak up, I think there are easily 10 to 20 more who can’t and won’t,’’ Clohessy said.

Marshall, who is battling skin cancer, worked at Windsor’s Assumption College and St. Mike’s in the 1950s. He then moved to Sudbury’s St. Charles College, where he worked for nearly two decades. His next stop was as principal at St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Marie before returning to Windsor in 1985. There, he was the founding principal of Holy Names.

Marshall remains a priest. He has not been laicized (defrocked) and there appears no move to initiate that process with the Vatican, which oversees expulsions.

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Toronto Star  -  June 8, 2011

One victim’s lament

This is a victim impact statement read in court on Wednesday

I was sexually abused when I was 13 years old by YOU, Hod Marshall — Catholic school principal, Basilian priest, family friend and my own sponsor for Confirmation. You called me your Godson.

When you decided to start getting into my bed, repeatedly, and violating me — you violated everything I had been taught and everything I believed in. You violated my trust, my faith, my self-respect, and my innocence. In many ways you destroyed parts of my life that were yet to be, and because of you, never have been. Before I had ever even kissed a girl I had a grown man in my bed pulling my pants down, whispering in my ear, telling me lies. I’d like to tell you what happened when you destroyed my confidence and self-worth as a child, but after 30 years how can I separate who I am from who I could have been?

I look back now and see I went from winning an award for academic excellence in Grade 8 to being a decidedly middling student thereafter. Before you, I believed so thoroughly in myself and my academic abilities, that I felt life was limitless. After you, I feared adults — especially teachers, I trusted no one, and to put it quite simply, I underachieved and withdrew from everyone and everything. You stymied my academic advancement, my social and sexual development, my career opportunities and my spiritual growth. I could spend hours detailing a life of loneliness, and despair — hoping to die, planning my own death, staring into the Detroit River as a high school student. Listen to me so I can tell you of a lifetime without friendships, of 30 years of depression, addictions and suicidal thoughts that burden me to this day. You will hear the damage those things in turn have wrought upon my wife, my innocent children. (Even though I realize you have no concern for children or anyone but yourself.)

Listen to me so you know for the rest of your life what price I paid these past three years pursuing this matter: . . . losing my job last year which I know was influenced by this pursuit of justice, an inability to this day to focus on my job and perform to my ability, the pain of telling my parents and living with the guilt they endure because of YOUR actions not theirs. The few friends I did have silently drifting away. I can’t even count the number of days I’ve had at work sitting at my desk trying to prepare a report and I am 13 again, afraid to get into bed — wondering if I should try to hide. Some days I literally sit at my desk and bang my fists against my head trying to pound memories of you out of my mind. Will I ever function to my capability when you haunt me to this day?

My wife is a beautiful and loving woman who has supported me through this every single day. I love her but I want you to know that we struggle every day to make our marriage work because what you did to me changed me forever. When you abuse a young boy, you change the man he becomes — the husband, the father. And when I say father I mean a daddy to children, not some pedophile priest hiding behind a collar. By hurting me you hurt my marriage. By hurting my marriage you hurt my children. Just the time, energy and emotional investment I have had to put into seeing you brought to justice for your crimes was time and love taken from them. How sad I am when I have to repeatedly tell my 4-year-old daughter that she never lets anybody but mommy and daddy into her bed?

On top of all that, I am now seeing a psychiatrist, and taking multiple medications every day to try and stay my own hand from taking my life so my children will have a father as they grow up — even if I am only half the father I should be. If nothing else, I have to live so they can be protected from the likes of cunning deceivers like you

I pay for my medications out my own pocket as I am unemployed, I spent thousands of dollars on sexual abuse counseling, I have a $4,000 bill outstanding from a lawyer who did nothing, and I have to defend myself against people who accuse me of bad intentions.

You abused me in Windsor, in my own bed with my parents, your life-long friends, asleep right on the other side of the wall. You abused me in Sault Ste. Marie in the Priests’ Residence of St. Mary’s College High School where your Basilian order’s motto was displayed for all to see: “Teach me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge.” When you were done abusing me, you went down the hall and got into bed with another boy and abused him. That’s right — I heard you and I cried because I didn’t know how to stop you. I didn’t know how to stop you from abusing me, from abusing that boy down the hall and all the others I feared would come after us.

I suffered silently not knowing how many others suffered like me but knowing you were a powerful and respected man, a principal, a priest, my father’s friend. How would I look — standing against you? I feared you but didn’t even know enough to show it, as the confusion, and shame overwhelmed everything else. Even as I stand here today, I can scarcely express the fear, remorse, embarrassment, anger, shame, confusion, and regret that threaten to overwhelm me at any moment. But I feel pride too for bringing you here. You did not come on your own. And I know there are 17 other individuals here today to speak to or of you, for reasons of their own, but by being here they also help me to know in my heart that I did the right thing.

Every day I have to remind myself that you are to blame and I am not. I was a child and you were wrong.

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More charges laid against retired Canadian priest facing trial for child sex abuse

Trial set to begin for retired Canadian priest, former school principal, charged with sex abuse of child, court records sealed


  1. Catholic officials failed to report sex abuse, Ontario suits allege

    by TU THANH HA, Globe and Mail December 08, 2011

    Roman Catholic officials in Ontario were told on two occasions that a priest was molesting young boys but didn’t alert the police or the children’s aid society, allowing Rev. William Hodgson Marshall to assault children for three decades, two new civil suits allege.

    One of the clerics who is alleged to have failed to report Father Marshall’s sexual abuse is the late Monsignor W.E. Dillon, a long-time pastor at Sacred Heart parish in Windsor. Father Dillon had already been identified in a previous court case as having helped cover up the transgressions of another Windsor priest, Charles Sylvestre, who sexually assaulted dozens of young girls over four decades.

    In the most recent case, Father Marshall, who is now 89, received a two-year sentence this summer after pleading guilty to 17 counts of indecent assault. A member of the Congregation of St. Basile, Father Marshall taught and coached basketball at Windsor’s Assumption High School, Sudbury’s St. Charles College and Toronto’s prestigious St. Michael’s College School.

    In a statement of claim filed this week, Jerry Boyle, a former Assumption student, alleges that Father Marshall sexually assaulted him several times, starting in the fall of 1954. Mr. Boyle, who was 14, confided at the time to his parish pastor, Father Dillon, but the priest scolded him rather than report the allegations, the statement of claim says. “I approached him in the confessional,” Mr. Boyle said Thursday. “… He screamed at me, saying that whatever happened was my fault.”

    A schoolmate of Mr. Boyle was Bob McMahon, who considered Father Marshall a mentor and kept in touch with him for decades. In 1981, Father Marshall began molesting Mr. McMahon’s 14-year-son, Patrick, according to the second of the statements of claim filed this week. “That is over a quarter century after he had abused Jerry [Boyle]. Jerry is the same age as Patrick’s father,” said lawyer Rob Talach, who represents Mr. Boyle and the younger Mr. McMahon.

    “How could Marshall get away with so much abuse over so many years? That’s the central question for the Basilian fathers to answer in this lawsuit.” Mr. McMahon’s statement of claim says that before Father Marshall began abusing him, two other victims in Sudbury had complained about the priest’s sexual misconduct to the Basilians. “Had this been dealt with properly … he would have never been abused by Marshall,” the statement said.

    Mr. Talach said the two Sudbury victims made their complaint in the late 1970s. The statement of claim also says that the Basilian Superior General, Ronald Fabbro – who is now bishop of the London diocese – learned of Father Marshall’s behaviour in 1998 but didn’t alert the police.

    Father Marshall and the Basilians have already been sued in Toronto by four former students represented by Toronto lawyer Simona Jellinek. Their statements of claims allege that they were assaulted between 1952 to 1955. One plaintiff said he was only seven years old when Father Marshall began molesting him, saying that it was “God’s will.”

    In statements of defence filed in the civil suits filed against him in Toronto, Father Marshall denied that his conduct had caused damages. “The plaintiff’s damages are remote, speculative and not recoverable in law,” his statements of defence said. ...
    Father Dillon, the parish pastor who brushed off Mr. Boyle in 1954, was named in a Ontario Superior Court decision this spring. The ruling found that the London diocese engaged in a cover-up of the activities of Father Sylvestre, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to 47 counts of indecent assault on 47 separate women. ...

    read the full article at:


  2. Priest faces 38 sex abuse charges in Newfoundland

    CBC News December 14, 2011

    A priest appeared in a western Newfoundland courtroom Wednesday on more than three dozen counts connected to complaints of sexual abuse that date back more than four decades.

    George Ansel Smith appeared at provincial court in Corner Brook on 38 separate charges, including gross indecency, indecent assault, assault and sexual assault.

    Smith had turned himself in to police earlier in the day.

    The charges related to incidents alleged to have happened between 1969 and 1989.

    The incidents are alleged to have happened in a string of communities along the west coast where Smith had been working as a Roman Catholic priest.

    CBC News reported in 2010 that the RCMP was investigating a complaint connected to the time when Smith worked in Deer Lake.

    Sgt. Boyd Merrill said Tuesday the charges are the result of a 16-month investigation.

    Smith, who was released on a surety of $10,000, is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 23.

    In May 2010, Smith was removed from his duties as a church administrator in Kinkora, P.E.I.

    A publication ban on the new charges is in effect.


  3. Former priest to face more charges in sex abuse case

    George Smith removed from duties in P.E.I. in 2010; new allegations are from Nova Scotia

    CBC News April 9, 2012

    Former Roman Catholic priest George Smith is facing more charges related to an ongoing sexual abuse investigation.

    Smith was supposed to appear at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Corner Brook Monday morning for arraignment.

    The Crown prosecutor says Smith's case had to be postponed because the investigation uncovered more allegations, this time from Nova Scotia.

    The Crown says there's at least one more charge to be added to the list of 62 already laid against Smith.

    Smith was working at St. Malachy's Church in Kinkora, P.E.I., in 2010 when he was removed from his duties after a complaint about an incident alleged to have occurred during his time in western Newfoundland. He served in Deer Lake from 1986 to 1991.

    Smith went to Prince Edward Island in 1994.

    He was charged in December 2011 after a lengthy investigation by the RCMP.

    Another 24 sexual abuse charges were laid in February, bringing the total number to 62.

    Smith had been a parish priest in western Newfoundland in the 1980s.