‘Otawa’ Ottawa Diocese Repeatedly Warned About Local Clergy’s Most Notorious Abuser
The Archdiocese of Ottawa continues to pay for the many sins of Rev. Dale Crampton.
Court documents reveal that the diocese has paid $741,783.44 in compensation to 10 of Crampton’s victims, who were sexually abused by the Catholic priest between 1963 and 1982.
More lawsuits are before the courts. The victims in those cases are seeking $3.7 million.
In total, the diocese now knows of at least 17 people who say they were victimized by the priest as children.
Through interviews and court documents, the Citizen has learned that members of the Ottawa clergy were warned at least seven times about Crampton’s sexual misconduct, beginning in 1965.
In a statement issued Wednesday, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese, Deacon Gilles Ouellette, said it has been engaged in a process of “justice and reconciliation” with victims for many years. “We engage with victims in the forum which they choose, but we do so always in a spirit of reconciliation and repentance,” he said.
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Crampton is the most notorious perpetrator in Ottawa’s clergy sexual abuse scandal, a pedophile and alcoholic who has cost the diocese and its insurance companies more money than any other priest.
Crampton killed himself in October 2010, jumping from an Ottawa highrise when he was 74.
At the time of Crampton’s death, the Ottawa Police Service was investigating sex abuse allegations made against him by five new complainants.
One of Crampton’s oldest friends, Rev. Barry McGrory, himself a convicted sex abuser, told the Citizen that the then-retired priest could not bear the prospect of another trial.
“What an awful death he had,” said McGrory. “Apparently old stuff came up and he was going to be recharged. He couldn’t face it.”
McGrory, 82, admits to being one member of the Catholic clergy who was made aware of Crampton’s sexual abuse and did nothing to stop it.
He was not alone.
At least four priests were told about Crampton’s abuse. What’s more, two complainants said they approached senior diocesan officials with allegations of abuse between 1980 and 1986.
Another one of Crampton’s victims, C.B., told the Citizen that he went to his older brother with his story of abuse in 1965. C.B., then 13, told him that Crampton had aggressively fondled him in a darkened movie theatre in Old Ottawa South on several occasions.
That same year, C.B.’s older brother reported the abuse to Rev. John Beahan, who was close to the family.
In 1976, Beahan would be named vicar general of the Archdiocese of Ottawa, one of its senior-most officials. He became auxiliary bishop the following year.
“The archdiocese knew. They knew in the ’60s,” charged C.B., a retired educator. “A lot of other people could have been saved, and not subjected to abuse as I was, and more serious kinds of abuse … He was just getting started with me.”
Beahan died in March 1988.
The diocese has publicly apologized to Crampton’s victims, but it has never admitted mistakes in how it dealt with the priest.
It has, however, changed the way it manages allegations of sexual abuse against Ottawa clergy.
In 2011, the Archdiocese of Ottawa issued a protocol that requires all clergy members and church employees to report any allegation of child sexual abuse to the Office of the Archbishop and to the Children’s Aid Society.
Inside the church, allegations deemed credible are forwarded to a review board for investigation. The board then makes recommendations to the archbishop about whether there are reasonable and probable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has made it his policy that any clergy member convicted of sexual abuse, or found liable in a civil action, will be prohibited from conducting “any and all” priestly functions. Such cases are then reported to the Vatican for a decision about whether to remove the perpetrator from the priesthood.
So far, all of the Crampton lawsuits have been settled out of court, obviating the need for a trial. Crampton did not have a criminal trial, either, since he pleaded guilty in December 1986 to indecently assaulting seven altar boys over the course of a decade beginning in 1973.
He was initially handed a suspended sentence, but the Ontario Court of Appeal set aside that penalty and imposed an eight-month jail term.
Crampton was first charged in June 1986 after a group of parents from St. Maurice Parish went to police with sex abuse allegations.
The parents approached police in March after growing frustrated by the inaction of then Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde and Bishop John Beahan, both of whom had been presented with evidence of Crampton’s crimes.
The diocese’s principal response had been to send Crampton to an alcohol treatment facility in February 1986.
Remarkably, when the charges against Crampton were laid by police, Plourde used the occasion to criticize the parents who made the abuse claims public:
“I regret that some of these parents have seen fit to seek a remedy through the media rather than placing their trust in their own pastors, priests and bishops,” Plourde wrote in a prepared statement after the charges were announced.
Lawyer Robert Talach, who has represented 10 of Crampton’s victims in lawsuits against the diocese, said that attitude is at the heart of the clergy sex abuse scandal.
The church, he said, operated behind “an institutional veil of secrecy” designed to protect its reputation, even at the expense of children’s safety.
It is why, Talach said, that he’s not surprised the Archdiocese of Ottawa was warned seven times about Crampton.
“It’s not unusual because what usually triggers more action is some kind of spectre of public knowledge,” he said.
More lawsuits are pending against Crampton and the diocese.
One of the cases involves a man who said Crampton began to abuse him in 1966 when he was 12 years old. According to a statement of claim filed in the case, Crampton made the victim feel special in the eyes of the church and God, and “used his position of authority and trust to ensure he didn’t tell anyone about the behaviours,” which included massage, masturbation, oral sex and sodomy.
According to the statement, the abuse occurred over a two-year period and took place in the rectory of St. Margaret Mary Parish, its basement and stairwell.
Another victim claims he was abused over a two-year period at St. Elizabeth Parish when he was an altar boy. According to a statement of claim filed in the case, Crampton took him to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in August 1976 for a tour of the facility after the end of the Olympic Games. He was 12 years old. On the night before the trip, the claim alleges, the boy stayed with Crampton at the church rectory.
The priest demanded that he shower with him, and sexually abused and molested the boy, the claim alleges. The abuse, it says, continued in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium and St. Joseph’s Oratory.
The claims made in the court documents have not been proven in court.
Adopted and raised in Ottawa, Crampton went to St. Patrick’s High School and was ordained a priest in 1963.
Tall, handsome and athletic, he was a popular addition to St. Margaret Mary Parish, where he first served as a curate. He later worked at St. Elizabeth Parish, St. Phillip Parish and St. Maurice Parish.
In 1974, he became one of the first two priests ever elected to the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Crampton collected more votes than any other trustee in that election.
The other priest elected that year was Rev. Kenneth Keeler, who would later plead guilty to sexually abusing three boys in the 1970s and 1980s.
Both Crampton and Keeler were re-elected as trustees in 1976.
Crampton also had a lifelong association with Rev. Barry McGrory, who has admitted to sexually abusing four teenagers. The two were boyhood friends and attended high school and the seminary together.
McGrory said he did not know about Crampton’s pedophilia. But a man approached him, he said, around 1984 with a story about Crampton’s abuse.
“This man came to see me and he was just shaking with rage,” McGrory remembered.
McGrory did not confront his friend with the allegations, an omission that he regrets.
“I should have gone over and said, ‘Dale, let’s have a drink. You and I have to sit down and talk.’”
McGrory visited Crampton while the priest was in jail to apologize for his failure.
“He (Crampton) said, ‘Barry, you couldn’t have done anything. So many people knew about my problem and your voice wouldn’t have made that much difference.’
“So he forgave me for not confronting him.”
In its statement issued Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Ottawa acknowledged that victims of clergy abuse had their pain compounded by the betrayal of trust involved in the cases. Said Deacon Gilles Ouellette: “The cost to victims, to their families, as well as to our Catholic faith community, cannot be calculated.”