WINDSOR, Ont. â€” Canada has long been a â€œdumping groundâ€ for Americansex abuser priests, who come here either to flee prosecution or aretransferred by churches hoping to keep things quiet, according toexperts and victims.
â€œItâ€™s bad and bound to get worse,â€ said David Clohessy,national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests(SNAP) in St. Louis. â€œAs predator priests become more fearful ofgetting caught and bishops become more worried about scandal, both thetemptation and incidents of transferring dangerous men will becomegreater. Itâ€™s very safe to say there are dozens and dozens of cases.â€
Meanwhile, Tuesday, alleged sex abuse victims launched lawsuitsagainst two former Windsor priests, who co-incidentally lived acrossthe hall from each other at St. Peterâ€™s Seminary in London, Ont., whenone of them was abusing children in his room.
London lawyer Rob Talach, who filed the suits on behalf of hisclients, said the similar career paths of Rev. Barry Glendinning,already convicted in 1974 of gross indecency against six other boys,and the late Rev. William Ring suggest the diocese hid the abuse byshuffling the accused into academic work. Both were also transferredfrom their first parish assignments to Rome for higher education, hesaid.
Clohessy said it makes sense accused American priests comehere. Most are in their 50s or 60s when they get caught, arenâ€™tmultilingual and donâ€™t want to live in a Third World country.
Canada, with its proximity, similar culture, language and living standard, is an obvious choice, he said.
Spokesman Ron Pickersgill said heâ€™s not aware of that happeningin the London diocese. He said a priest couldnâ€™t transfer here withoutBishop Ronald Fabbroâ€™s permission, which would require investigation.If anything were â€œquestionable,â€ he wouldnâ€™t get in, said Pickersgill.
President Terry McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org, awebsite tracking clergy abuse in the U.S., said the transfer of accusedpriests across borders isnâ€™t new.
â€œThe church has for decades used political borders and diocesanborders to keep priests working and keep whatever facts that came outin previous cases secret from the people theyâ€™re currently workingwith,â€ he said.
Rev. Paul Desilets, released from a Massachusetts prison lastmonth, had to be extradited from Canada in 2005 after he was indictedon sex charges in the U.S. in 2002.
After he was caught, he pleaded guilty to multiple counts ofindecent assault and battery on a child and several other chargesinvolving 18 boys. When released from prison, Desilets, 82, gotpermission from a U.S. judge to return to his religious order in Quebecto serve probation.
Pickersgill said the only way a priest accused of abuse mightget work in a different diocese is through religious orders, which runtheir own churches.
Heads of orders have the authority to transfer priests acrossdiocese borders, said Pickersgill. He said it still requires thebishopâ€™s permission, but itâ€™s usually a formality.