‘Ottawa’ Victims Say House Arrest not Enough for former Priest Convicted of Molesting Altar Boys
After four decades, three men who were molested as altar boys by their priest finally got some closure Thursday when a judge sentenced Jacques Faucher for his historical sex crimes.
But the three men, now 56 years old, say the sentence is little comfort for the abuse they suffered and the years of mental trauma because the man who committed the crimes will not spend another night in jail.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Pierre Roger sentenced the 80-year-old former priest to one year of house arrest for three convictions of indecent assault, followed by 18 months of probation.
“He should have got jail time and case closed,” said one upset victim outside of the Ottawa courthouse.
“Even if he gets three months in jail, at least it feels that we got some kind of … justice, you know?” said another victim.
“He’s still home. He still sleeps in his own bed, takes his warm baths, listens to music. I mean, no real change.”
The Crown had asked for a sentence of 18 months in jail, followed by three years of probation. The defence argued that a conditional sentence was more appropriate.
On Thursday, the judge imposed several house arrest conditions for Faucher, such as avoiding public parks and swimming pools where people under 16 are expected to be present. He will be on the sex offender registry for 20 years.
The three victims cannot be named because their identities are protected by a publication ban.
At trial, they all told a similar story: Faucher would invite the boys to sit on his knee in private in his office to pray or to watch hockey, and he would start touching them. Court heard that he admitted to police that he had been sexually excited during these encounters, and that he sometimes ejaculated in his pants.
The offences date back to the late 1960s and early ’70s at the Notre-Dame-des-Anges parish near Tunney’s Pasture where Faucher was a priest.
Five male complainants testified against him, but the judge acquitted Faucher on evidence from two of the men because he said he had reasonable doubt. Faucher was also convicted of three counts of gross indecency, but those charges were stayed at his sentencing.
In his ruling, the judge said there was no proof that Faucher would pose a risk to reoffend or pose a risk to the community. He said a psychiatric report prepared for the court noted the 80-year-old lost his interest in sexuality and that “the risk toward the community is for all intents and purposes practically nil.”
Thursday’s sentencing decision came after Faucher was thrown back in jail last month after police alleged he visited an Aylmer swimming pool during family and children’s hours 96 times between Nov. 24, 2015 and Dec. 22, 2016, while he was out on bail.
Faucher’s bail conditions prohibited him from visiting parks or swimming pools where people under 16 are expected to be present, however the court permitted him to visit a public swimming pool in Lowertown only on Tuesdays and Thursdays in time slots for people 50 and older.
He was found guilty of the breach on Feb. 1 and was sentenced to 40 days in jail, according to court records from the Gatineau courthouse.
“For the judge to say (Faucher) doesn’t have any tendencies anymore, that’s a lot of B.S.,” said a victim after the sentencing. “That’s crap. I don’t believe it.”
One man said he felt the judge gave little weight to the mental effects of the abuse when, in his ruling, he characterized the former priest’s offences as “less intrusive” than other sex acts.
In victim impact statements heard in court last October, the victims said the childhood trauma took its toll throughout their adult lives. One said the hatred and shame he felt “ate at me like a vile cancer.” He turned to alcohol to cope with the memories of the abuse, which caused him to leave a management position at work.
Faucher apologized to his victims in court for his sex crimes. He said, “I regret them sincerely,” and, in the same speech, also criticized the media for its coverage of sex-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. The victims said they didn’t believe the apology was sincere.
As previously reported by the Citizen, the Archdiocese of Ottawa gave one complainant a $50,000 cheque in 1998 after he alleged to the church that Faucher molested him as a child.
After his conviction in March, a statement from Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said the archbishop had extended “indefinitely” an order he made when Faucher was arrested in 2013. The order suspends him from all ministry and prohibits him from representing himself as a Catholic priest.