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Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver report reveals 36 sexual abuse cases since 1950

Last Updated Nov 24, 2019 at 11:40 am MDT

The Catholic Church's representative in Vancouver is confirming 36 cases of sexual abuse by priests since 1950. (Courtesy, Archdiocese of Vancouver)
Summary

An internal review by the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver confirms at least 36 cases of sexual assault since 1950


The report confirms 26 cases of the sexual assault of children, and 10 of adults in potentially abusive relationships


The Archbishop has promised to implement 31 recommendations to prevent sexual abuse


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An internal investigation by the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has found 36 cases of sexual abuse dating back to 1950.

According to a new report, the church identified 26 cases of sexual assault of children in Vancouver over the last 70 years, and another 10 cases of “consensual” relationships between adults that were “likely to be abusive” because of the imbalance of power.

Nine priests have been convicted or accused of abuse, but privacy laws prevent the release of any other names.

Paul J. Blancard, George Gordon, John McCann, Harold McIntee and Alfred Frank Louis Sasso have been convicted, but not all of them have spent time in prison.

Two men – Lawrence Edward Damian Cooper and Antero Sarmiento – were the focus of lawsuits now settled. Other public cases named Edwin Budiman and John Eason.

Archbishop J. Michael Miller says it has taken the Catholic Church too long to address abuse, and calls on victims to come forward and report any further cases of abuse.

“Even though the brutality of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults is a widespread tragedy that affects every corner of society, it has taken the Catholic Church around the world far too long to address its particularly devastating consequences when that abuse is perpetrated by a priest, whom the faithful hold in a position of trust,” he writes in the report.

In September, the Archdiocese of Vancouver implemented an anonymous phone tip line to report abuse.

Recommendations to stop abuse

A committee formed in October 2018 to study sexual abuse in the church makes 31 recommendations to “take concrete steps to prevent abuse, address it when it happens, and prevent cover-ups from ever happening again.”

Those recommendations include better training for staff to prevent abuse, storing all files in a central location and setting up a victim support office early next year, and mandatory performance reviews for all priests. It also calls for a Canada-wide registry for any clergy credibly accused of abuse.

The Archbishop is promising to implement these recommendations.

Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse

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Archbishop apologizes for ‘trauma’ and ‘betrayal’

In a letter that is included in the report and will be read out to parishioners in all Catholic churches in Greater Vancouver this weekend, Miller apologizes for the trauma suffered by at least 26 children betrayed by the church.

“I realize that no expression of regret can repair the horror of what happened. Although nothing can undo the wrong that was done to you, I nonetheless wish to offer each of you my heartfelt apology for the trauma, the violation in body and soul, and the sense of betrayal and abandonment by the Church that you feel. For those occasions when we failed to protect you or when we were more concerned with the Church’s reputation than with your suffering, I am truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness as I strive to make amends and bind your wounds,” Miller says.

Abuse victim says recommendations aren’t enough

The victim of abuse by priest John McCann, one of the nine priests named in the report, says she’s not convinced the report’s recommendations go far enough.

“A child being abused today, for them to speak out, is really, really difficult – very, very frustrating. I feel like it’s been a persistent effort on behalf of survivors to move to this place,” says Leona Huggins.

Huggins, who is no longer a practicing Catholic, was a parishoner in New Westminster in the mid-1970s when she was abused.

She says McCann later turned up at a church on Saltspring Island.

“He was not monitored. We left it in the hands of a survivor to continue to monitor him,” she says. “He died last year, but I’m convinced that had I not done the work that I did to find out where he was and let people know, he would have still been there until his dying day.”

Huggins is also a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.