Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 9, 2009
Cornwall Diocese denies pedophilia ring exists
Three-year inquiry examines claims of massive pedophilia conspiracy
BY DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
CORNWALL, ONT. — The Catholic Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall says there is no evidence to support lurid charges of a pedophile ring operating in Cornwall, Ont.
“The real rate of incidence of historical sexual abuse of young people by persons in positions of trust and authority in Cornwall has not been shown to be any different from what is or was in any other city, town or place in Ontario, Canada or elsewhere,” the diocese said in its 288-page closing argument to the Cornwall Inquiry.
JUDGE PONDERS SUBMISSIONS
That is one of many narratives Justice Normand Glaude will now consider before writing a report that is expected in July. Interested parties have filed their closing arguments to the inquiry that since February 2006 has been examining how numerous public institutions, including the diocese, handled sexual abuse complaints over a 40-year period.
The various institutions and interested parties filed their closing arguments the week of Feb. 23.
Competing views of former Cornwall Police Officer Perry Dunlop emerged during the inquiry. Dunlop refused to testify before last September and spent seven months in jail for contempt of court. To some Dunlop is a hero for exposing the problem; to others, including the diocese, he’s to blame for making it up.
In 1993, Dunlop blew the whistle on a confidential agreement the diocese made with a victim of priestly sexual abuse. He began investigating other claims involving the diocese and other institutions and soon ran afoul of his superiors at the Cornwall Police Service.
Dunlop’s efforts spawned an OPP investigation called Project Truth in the late ‘90s that resulted in 114 charges against 15 individuals. But charges were stayed against some of the accused because their cases took too long to go to trial. Others who were accused died or committed suicide.
“Perry Dunlop filled a hole created by inept, ineffective, incompetent and corrupt public officials in Cornwall,” said the closing submission of the Victims Group.
“The fact that victims of abuse flocked to disclose their abuse to Dunlop, having never reported to the police or any other agency, should be taken as a scathing indictment of those institutions.”
According to the diocese, however, Dunlop “bears the most serious responsibility for the controversy in Cornwall.”
It cited evidence Dunlop had become paranoid and was under psychiatric care while he conducted his investigation. He engaged in a pattern of “manipulation, pressure, incompetence and ignorance,” the diocese said.
The diocese also cited evidence Dunlop used threats to force Ron Leroux to lie about “dark ritualistic sex taking place at cottages, a pedophile conspiracy, murder plots, sex in Florida by those running institutions in Cornwall, abuse of minors at locations in Cornwall, including Church property.”
Last summer, testifying before the inquiry, Leroux recanted most of the contents of a lurid affidavit concerning the so-called pedophile clan and blamed Dunlop for pressuring him to lie.
“It is submitted that the community conspiracy theory and that of a pedophile clan died with Mr. Leroux’s acknowledgement of his dishonesty,” the diocesan submission said.
The submission catalogues how complaints against about 10 individual priests were handled. It says Ron Leroux’s allegations against a number of other priests, including the former bishop, Eugene LaRocque, “were patently, and obviously false.”
NO CHARGES LAID
It also said that other allegations made against four priests and LaRocque were “uncorroborated” and that police found there was insufficient evidence to lay charges against any of them.
The diocese also laid out evidence that little was known about the extent of abuse prior to the 1990s and showed the steps the diocese has taken to prevent and report abuse.
But the diocese was among a number of institutions that failed victims, according to the Victims Group.
“It is now clear that there has been a culture of sexual abuse within the (diocese) and that it did not have just one or two fallen priests; rather, sexual abuse was a systemic problem,” said the Victim’s Group.
It also said various police forces have never properly investigated allegations of conspiracy “that have plagued this community for more than a decade.”
The Citizens for Community Renewal (CCR) blamed homophobia for the “widespread believe that the perpetrators of acts of homosexual pedophilia were prominent members of the community, acting jointly and were using their positions of influence to ensure that their activities remained undetected and unprosecuted.”
The effects of homophobia in Cornwall “reached extreme proportions,” the CCR said.
“Activities that in a less homophobic community would be seen as benign, in Cornwall became evidence of a pedophile ring,” the CCR’s report said. “For example, it is hardly abnormal for adult gay men to become friends and to socialize with one another, including vacationing together in Florida.”
That activity alone became evidence of a pedophile ring, the organization said.