Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cover-up

http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Sylvestre+moved+protect+faithful/4549011/story.html

Sylvestre moved to 'protect faithful'
Priest's abuse known, trial told
By Trevor Wilhelm, The Windsor Star April 2, 2011 •Story•Photos ( 1 )
Friday, April 1, 2011, marked the end of a three-week trial in the civil case against the London diocese by Kelly Murphy-Myers, 41, of Chatham, who is suing the diocese for $3.5 million for sexual abuse at the hands of Father Charle Sylvestre at St. Ursula’s parish in Chatham. Shown here is this 2006 file photo, police officers escort Sylvestre after leaving a Chatham courtroom. Sylvestre was convicted in 2006 of 47 counts of indecent assault involving girls at parishes in Windsor, Sarnia, London, Chatham and Pain Court over four decades. He died in 2007 at age 84, only months into his three-year prison sentence.Photograph by: Dan Janisse, The Windsor StarChurch officials quietly shuffled pedophile priest Charles Sylvestre from church to church in order to "protect the victims," a London diocese lawyer said Friday.

Susan Metzler made the acknowledgment in a London courtroom during closing arguments of the first lawsuit involving Sylvestre to go to trial.

She said parishes were historically not told about abuse to "protect the faithful overall" and not "shake their faith" in the church or good priests. In the past, said Metzler, there was a belief that praying about the abuse problem would "correct" it.

"But the impact was not appreciated, nor was the fact you can't put a pedophile back with children. It just wasn't known," Metzler, with the Toronto law firm Miller Thomson, said during her closing arguments.

"They wanted to protect the victims and they thought they were doing that."

Friday marked the end of a three-week civil trial. Kelly Murphy-Myers, 41, of Chatham, is suing the diocese for $3.5 million for sexual abuse at the hands of Sylvestre at St. Ursula's parish in Chatham.

Sylvestre was convicted in 2006 of 47 counts of indecent assault involving girls at parishes in Windsor, Sarnia, London, Chatham and Pain Court over four decades. Dozens more victims of Sylvester have since come forward.

He died in 2007 at age 84, only months into his threeyear prison sentence. The diocese has settled 65 lawsuits involving Sylvestre and has 12 remaining, including the Murphy-Myers case.

Metzler said the diocese now openly deals with abuse, including creating new policies and making public apologies. The practice of keeping things quiet to protect identities and reputations is a thing of the past, she said.

"We look back now and see that was completely wrong," said Metzler. "The reason for keeping it quiet was completely wrong. We know that now."

Murphy-Myers' lawyer Rob Talach said that doesn't free the diocese of responsibility. He said the church was really more worried about its own image and "keeping customers" than protecting children.

"We're not dealing with an issue of 'we didn't know better,'" said Talach, with the London law firm Ledroit Beckett. "Clearly, the intention here was to protect the church over the people."

He said the diocese must be punished for its secrecy, border line obstruction of justice and "silent shuffle" of Sylvestre to send a strong message to other groups thinking of doing the same.

"If there is one thing this decision can do.... it can send a piercing sound in the form of punitive damages that this conduct is not acceptable and this conduct will be punished," said Talach.

He said the diocese was negligent because it either lost or destroyed personnel files on Sylvestre, didn't always cooperate with police and quietly shuffled Sylvestre from church to church to avoid scandal.

"The negligence is so extreme here," said Talach.

"By the time he gets to Chatham, the diocese is recklessly employing an unfit person to be with children."

Talach said the diocese's repeated transferring of Sylvestre from one parish to the next and the "failure" to stop the abuse was "a true opportunity missed."

If they had done some "snooping around," Talach said, his client might never have been abused.


Read more: http://www.windsorstar.com/news/Sylvestre+moved+protect+faithful/4549011/story.html#ixzz1IS4KLv3J

1 comment:

Logan Furniture Movers said...

very nice..don't abuse the childs.