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  Home :: 2007 January :: Priest blames girls for abuse he caused

Priest blames girls for abuse he caused

Lawyer speaks at workshop after visiting pedophile in prison

Roberta Pennington, CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007

WINDSOR- Convicted pedophile Reverend Charles Sylvestre blames his victims,other clergy and a school principal for the abuse he caused nearly 50young girls, Ontario Crown Paul Bailey said yesterday.

"What wehave here is a man who minimized his own involvement, blamed others,showed no [remorse] whatsoever to the psychological carnage that hecaused," Mr. Bailey said.

Mr. Bailey told a crowd of about 200priests, deacons and other religious staff gathered at a sexual abuseworkshop that he recently met with Sylvestre in jail to try "tounderstand what made him tick."


Sylvestre was under no obligation to speak to Mr. Bailey, but did sononetheless, giving the lawyer disturbing insight into the84-year-old's distorted psyche.

"According to him, these eight-year-old girls planned the destruction of their own lives," Mr. Bailey said.

Sylvestrewas sentenced in October to three years in a penitentiary for sexuallyabusing 47 girls between the ages of eight and 15 over a period of 30years in five parishes across southwestern Ontario. Since hisconviction, 10 more women have come forward alleging his abuse.

Inan effort to dispel the myth that pedophiles suffer a "mere moralfailure," Mr. Bailey presented excerpts from his conversation withSylvestre that shows the disgraced priest's mental illness, or"distinct psychological pathology."

When speaking to Mr. Baileyof the young girls he molested, Sylvestre talked as though the childrenconspired to have him abuse them.

"These girls that came overthere every day, they planned it," Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey. "I couldhear them talking and they'd come in and sit on a chair and their skirtwould be up to their crotch.? Well, it was kind of attracting."

Whena principal of a school accused Sylvestre of improperly touching thegirls, the priest turned the blame on the principal and the littlegirls. "The principal ... came over and accused me of touching them,"Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey. "I said, 'Why are they here? Aren't theysupposed to stay in the schoolyard? Get them out of here.' "

Accordingto Mr. Bailey, Sylvestre also blamed London Bishop Ronald Fabbro. "He'sthe one who started the whole avalanche by freeing Irene [Deschenes]from her gag order," Sylvestre told Mr. Bailey, referring to one of hisvictims.

The workshop is one of two being held by the Diocese ofLondon as a means of educating the staff and raising awareness ofsexual abuse in the Church in order to help prevent it in the future,said diocese spokesman Ron Pickersgill.

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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia