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Ritual/sexual abuse case in Cornwall, ON, Canada

The Commission of Inquiry

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Commission of inquiry is opened:

In 2005-APR, a delegation, including members of Citizens for Community Renewal (CCR) and a number of MPPs including Garry Guzzo, went to Toronto to persuade Attorney General Michael Bryant to create a public inquiry. Bryant agreed and took almost immediate action. On 2005-APR-11, the provincial government introduced Bill 185:

"An Act to establish a commission to inquire into the investigations by police forces of complaints of sexual abuse against minors in the Cornwall area." 1

The commission of inquiry was created under Ontario's Public Inquiries Act. It was mandated

"to inquire into and report on the events surrounding allegations of abuse of young people in Cornwall by examining the response of the justice system and other public institutions to the allegations." 2

The inquiry began in Cornwall on 2005-FEB-12, under the stewardship of Mr. Justice Norman Glaude, a senior judge from the Sudbury area. The commission studied allegations of decades of sexual abuse of young people by adults in positions of authority in the community, and that why major institutions in the community -- the Roman Catholic Church, two police forces, and other organizations, did not respond adequately to the cries for help by the alleged victims. It was originally expected to hear testimony from hundreds of lawyers, police and probation officials, youth workers, therapists and concerned citizens until the end of 2006-NOV.

bulletMayor Phil Poirier referred to the inquiry as:

"...a double-edged sword...On the one hand, it is important to bring closure to everybody involved -- the victims, the people who were accused, the police, the Children's Aid, the church -- everybody. But there have been a lot of innuendos and a lot of people have suffered. This has been like an albatross around Cornwall's neck. We didn't invent sexual abuse in Cornwall. We hope people will realize that. I hope this inquiry will bring justice. But I know it will also victimize the community all over again. Nobody likes to wash their dirty laundry in public. I guess that's the price of justice." 2

bulletLawyer Paul Ledroit represents dozens of plaintiffs. He commented:

"There's a good judge and a good counsel, and they're hopefully going to get to the bottom of this."

bulletReporter Timothy Appleby, reporter for the Globe and Mail newspaper wrote:

"The inquiry's primary focus will be on the array of institutions involved, and how they responded to claims that community leaders in their midst were guilty of sexual abuse against children." 3

bulletPaul Scott, is president of Citizens for Community Renewal, a 200-member group who were very influential in convincing the Attorney General of Ontario to call the inquiry. He describes it as "a Godsend." According to the Ottawa Citizen:

"He says getting it called was an uphill battle that got little support from a 'very cozy Cornwall establishment,' which still gives it only 'muted approval.' He says, for example, that the first attempt to get city council's support failed in 2000 and it was only when a 'big crowd' showed up in 2002 that a supportive motion was passed. 2

bulletAn editorial in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper stated:

"Judge Glaude will have to balance the privacy rights of the accused and accusers with the public interest. And he will have to pass judgment on public institutions, from the police to the Roman Catholic Church. Critics will scrutinize his conduct."

"The inquiry itself will not bring justice. But it could help Canadian communities deal with allegations of abuse quickly and thoroughly.
It cold bring attention to gaps in social service, in particular for abused men. It could cause religious institutions to examine their policies and rededicate themselves to protecting children above all else. Most important, it cold bring peace of mind to Cornwall's parents." 4

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A move to silence alleged victims:

On 2006-FEB-23, attorney Guiseppe Cipriano submitted a motion to the commission on behalf his clients, Rev. Charles MacDonald and the Estate of Kenneth Seguin. He said:

"It is our opinion alleged victims should not testify, and if they do they should not name who these people accused of wrongdoings are.....What we’re trying to do is protect the interests of our clients in that accusations are not made against them."

Terri Saunders, writing for the Standard-Freeholder newspaper in Cornwall, wrote:

"Cipriano’s motion is grounded in the opinion the commission will have to lend merit to any allegations it hears through the course of the Inquiry, something he says will damage his clients."

Peter Engelmann, lead counsel for the Inquiry, disagreed with the motion. He said:

"We believe we need to call some evidence from alleged victims in order to determine response to those allegations. ...This Inquiry is not about determining whether allegations actually happened because this is not a criminal trial or civil trial. We’re looking at institutional response and we feel it’s important, in examining response, to know what they (the institutions) were responding to.""

Some of the alleged victims left the hearing room in tears. One alleged victim, Steve Parisien, assumed that the motion would be granted. He said:

"It will be over. I will stand out in front with a sign, simple as that, and we’ll go back to where we were before." 5

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Votes and Proceedings: Legislative Assembly of Ontario #126," 2005-APR-11, at: http://www.ontla.on.ca/
  2. Bob Rupert, "A time to 'clear the air'," Ottawa Citizen, 2006-FEB-11.
  3. Timothy Appleby, "Seeking the truth of Project Truth. Inquiry starts today into the investigation of an alleged sex ring in Cornwall, Ont.," The Globe and Mail (Toronto), 2006-FEB-13.
  4. "A worthwhile investigation," Editorial, Ottawa Citizen, 2006-FEB-16. Reprinted in the Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-17, Page A22.
  5. Terri Saunders, "Lawyer seeks to muzzle abuse victims at inquiry. 'It will be all over,’ says sexual abuse survivor," Standard Freeholder (Cornwall), 2006-FEB-24, Front page.

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Site navigation:

Home > Not so spiritual menu > Ritual Abuse > CasesCornwall > here

or: Home > Hot topics > Ritual Abuse > CasesCornwall > here

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Copyright © 2006 and 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2006-FEB-14
Latest update: 2007-JUL-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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