Priest becomes target of sex abuse allegation
Local News - Wednesday, August 29, 2007 @ 08:00
A Cornwall priest has retired amidst allegations he sexually abused aman who was a minor in Prince Albert, Sask., several decades ago.
Rev. Gaetan Deschamps, who is believed to be in his 70s, hasbeen with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall for thepast 10 years, working part-time as a marriage counsellor.
The ministry Deschamps specialized in didn't deal specifically with young children, said Diocese Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher.
However, on the website for the Diocese ofAlexandria-Cornwall, it states that Deschamps oversaw a support groupcalled "Spectrum," which is described as a curriculum for "adolescentswho live in single-parent families or stepfamilies."
Deschamps has never been charged in relation to this incident.When confronted by a diocesan delegate from Alexandria-Cornwall, Deschamps denied any allegations against him.
There have also never been any complaints received about him by the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall, the bishop said.
The Cornwall Police Service and the local Children's AidSociety were notified, however, the complainant's wish was to ensureDeschamps was no longer involved in the ministry.
Deschamps complied, the bishop told the Standard-Freeholder in an interview, and is now retired.
When contacted Tuesday evening the Prince Albert, Sask. policecould not provide any information regarding the allegations concerningDeschamps.
Deschamps could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Deschamps was ordained under the Prince Albert Diocese and themajority of his ministerial work was done there, Durocher said.
When he arrived in Cornwall, he was semi-retired, Durocher added.
"He never asked to become a member (of the Alexandria-Cornwall Diocese).
"There's nothing out of the ordinary there."
Deschamps, who once wrote a column in the Standard-Freeholderand was involved in fundraising for the Children's Christmas Fund, hadretired from parish ministry last year because of his age.
Prior to that, he was appointed as a priest at Blessed Sacrament in the city's north end in 2000.
Durocher said he was contacted by Bishop Blaise Morand fromthe diocese in Prince Albert a few weeks ago, advising him of thecomplaint of historical sexual abuse.
The diocese issued the press release with an eye to keeping the ministry open and transparent, Durocher said.
In June 1992, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishopsissued a document, entitled "From Pain to Hope," in which theydiscussed how churches should deal with allegations of sexual abusefrom members of the clergy.
The document advised ministries to be open in the wake of sexual abuse allegations.
"One of the objectives of 'From Pain to Hope' was to overcomethe shroud of secrecy around these issues," Durocher explained. "Thisis what we're trying to do."
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