For more than 30 years, the Catholic Church of Montreal covered up the abuse committed from parish to parish by a serial abuser priest. Thanks to their hard work, two women are now busy cleaning up to prevent such situations from happening again.
Priest Brian Boucher is languishing in prison today after being sentenced to eight years in prison in 2019 for sexually assaulting two barely teenage boys during the 1990s and 2000s.
But s he was able to rage for so many years in at least three parishes in the West of Montreal, it is because the leaders of the clergy minimized his deviations, sometimes swept the warning signs under the carpet, or even the transferred from parish to parish which allowed him to make other innocent victims.
These disturbing findings are highlighted in a documentary by our Bureau of Investigation, broadcast since Thursday on Quebecor's Vrai content platform and entitled Secrets and sins of the Church.
The documentary features retired judge Pepita G. Capriolo, who signed a report on Brian Boucher's case, and lawyer Marie Christine Kirouack, the new ombudsman for the Archdiocese of Montreal.
Retired judge Pepita Capriolo and the ombudsman of the diocese of Montreal, Marie Christine Kirouack (Pink jacket)
These two women are shaking the columns of the temple. The measures they put in place forced Montreal's religious authorities to demonstrate greater accountability and responsibility for the actions of their priests.
These changes may have done less less noise than the recent visit of Pope Francis to Canada, but they are likely to have almost as much impact.
A shocking documentary, available now on VRAI Watch in full on VRAI Videoreporters-director and editor: Manu Chataigner Journalist: Jules Richer/ Editing: Stephan Joncas
A closed environment
“The clergy community is a closed, protective environment,” notes the former judge of the Superior Court of Quebec in the documentary.
“People protect each other,” she continues. I believe it is an organization that has been very dysfunctional. And like any closed organization where there is a certain omertà, it is very unhealthy.”
It was unhealthy to the point where ex-priest Brian Boucher was able to multiply, without being worried by his superiors, abuse of power with his parishioners and assaults on children.
Yet the warning signs had begun to sound even before Boucher became a priest. In his early twenties, in the eighties, Boucher had volunteered to give catechism lessons to the children of his native parish, that is to say that of St. Veronica, in Dorval.
St. Veronica Church, Dorval. Documentary on Brian Boucher.
“I found, says Ms. Capriolo, in her file [of the archdiocese], a letter from 1987 […] which said: it is not normal, he meets young people, he brings them to La Ronde , he brings them home too late, he shows them inappropriate movies, he uses inappropriate language.”
Despite these questionable behaviors, the religious authorities decided to accept Boucher's candidacy when he wished to become a priest. However, he will have to do it twice before he gets there. First, in 1987, at St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ontario, where his excessively intense behavior with other priesthood students earned him an expulsion, then at the Major Seminary of Montreal, in 1992, where he finally succeeded. his shot.
“Despite all the red flags, all the doubts of the past, when Boucher's file arrives for approval, all that is swept away, everything is put on the carpet. Mgr [Jean-Claude] Turcotte [then Archbishop of Montreal] decides to allow Boucher access to the priesthood”, laments the judge.
Mgr Jean-Claude Turcotte, now deceased, is one of those who turned a blind eye to Boucher.
The priest above all
Ms. Capriolo observes that the Church did not care much about the devastation that an individual like Boucher can cause on those around him. “The priest above all. And that can be seen through my report,” she said.
“The number of times we say: we have to save the priest, we have to look after his take care of it. That's fine, you have to take care of people, but you also have to take care of the damage they can do around them.”
The centerpiece of the report on the Boucher case of Ms. Capriolo is the extensive series of recommendations it contains. In all, there are 31 of them, 30 of which have already been implemented by the follow-up committee to the report.
“My recommendations relate to several aspects that need to be reviewed [within the archdiocese]. The first and most glaring aspect is the accountability, the responsibility, the empowerment of individuals in authority,” she says.
The content of these recommendations is very concrete, and this is what makes the originality of Ms. Capriolo's approach.
For example: the system of personal files for priests has been thoroughly reviewed to avoid the loss of information, as was the case with Brian Boucher; severe internal sanctions have been provided for any member of the clergy who has knowledge of a case of child abuse and who fails to report it to the Directorate of Youth Protection; we also specified the responsibilities of each of the leaders of the archdiocese to avoid everyone passing the buck, as happened with Boucher.
Another originality of Ms. Capriolo's contribution: despite her Italian-sounding name, the former judge is not Catholic, but of the Jewish faith. This is also the case of Me Marie-Christine Kirouack, whose position as ombudsman of the Archdiocese of Montreal stems from a recommendation of the Capriolo report.
In an interview for our documentary, Me Kirouack stressed that she will not compromise as ombudsman in the defense of the victims of the Church. “I am the spokesperson for the victims, I am the representative of the victims. […] I also say that I am the concrete wall: do not touch my victims!”
Its mandate includes writing a public report twice a year. She has produced three so far. In the one published in the spring, she is moreover not shy about flaying the leaders of the archdiocese by denouncing the internal resistance to her work.
In her opinion, it is now clear that a cases like that of Boucher would not happen again in Montreal. “If it happened now, from the moment there would be rumours, allegations that someone is actually touching minors, I will be required to act,” she says
< p>“So, she adds, the chances that something like this could happen without anyone reacting now are very slim.”
Essential work< /p>
In an interview for our documentary, the Archbishop of Montreal, Msgr. Lépine, acknowledged that the work of Ms. Capriolo and Ms. Kirouack was essential in tackling the issue of abuse in the Montreal church. “For me, it became clear very quickly that we were not able to do this alone. The challenge was to recognize that we needed help, and to get this help, which exists, but to get it, ”he says.
The priest sowed terror
Brian Boucher even threatened to sue those who could have exposed his abuse of young boys
A burly man, Brian Boucher used his power as a priest to attack both his parishioners and the young boys he sexually abused.
< p>“He was a tall gentleman: 6ft 2, 6ft 3, very imposing physically, manipulative to the extreme”, as described by retired judge Pepita Capriolo.
“He had no behavioral guidelines, she adds, and [he] took advantage of his role as a moral and 'divine' authority to harm people, to hurt them.”  ;
Ex-priest Brian Boucher during his sexual assault trial at the Montreal courthouse in 2019.
As soon as he was assigned to a parish, that of St. John Brébeuf in the LaSalle borough of Montreal, after being ordained a priest in 1996, Boucher did not hesitate before undertaking his abuse. “A reign of terror begins,” Ms. Capriolo points out.
The parish secretary at the time, Nancy Gallie, recounts how she had to confront Boucher who did not appreciate the questions she raised about him.
Mrs. Gallie had realized that the priest was spending a lot of time with a young boy of about twelve years old. Boucher had given him the keys to the parish presbytery so that he could access it as he pleased.
“I was not comfortable with that. I did not find it appropriate for the boy to be there,” she explains. from Boucher.
Mrs. Gallie confides in another parishioner, who hastens to tell Boucher. Furious, Boucher confronts Ms. Gallie and threatens to sue her for defamation – a threat he will not carry out.
“To tell the truth, he scared me. You know, I was alone to take care of my two children. What would have happened to them if something had happened [with me]?”
But Madame Gallie's intuition was right. The young boy would prove to be one of Boucher's two victims. His testimony would later serve to have Boucher sentenced to prison. He was called Jeremy, a fictitious name to protect his identity.
The trial that took place in 2019 is moreover indicative of the manipulative tactics that Boucher used to force his young victims to have sex with him.
The young boy from LaSalle, now an adult, then told during the trial that he came from a broken home. “My father ended up in prison when I was very young, and [he] was never present with me,” he said during his 2019 testimony, which we had access to.
St. John Brébeuf parish, LaSalle borough, Montreal. Documentary on Brian Boucher.
Before taking action, Boucher acts surreptitiously. “It started with very, very subtle gestures. […] We were in [his] car and he put his hand on my lap. […] His hand slowly, slowly, slowly moved up my leg [over time] until it ended up on my crotch,” Jeremy claims.
Claiming fatigue, Boucher takes the youngster to a motel room, a scenario that will often repeat itself. And that's where the sordid sexual assaults take place.
Boucher will change parishes several times and each time he will have clashes with parishioners and have questionable relationships with young boys and young men. He will never be worried or reprimanded by religious authorities.
His reign of terror will end when he is arrested in 2017 following a complaint brought against him by one of his victims, the young boy from LaSalle.
< h3>Complacent psychologists
Brian Boucher was able to benefit not only from the lenient attitude of his superiors towards him, but also from complacent psychologists to commit sexual abuse with impunity for several years.
The Montreal Police Department is looking for potential victims of Montreal priest Brian Boucher.
He had therapy twice at a Catholic Church-controlled treatment institute, the Southdown Institute, north of Toronto, where psychologists were unable to detect the condition. extent of his deviant personality.
Institute officials even gave Boucher an outdated, easy-to-fool test in an attempt to uncover pedophile tendencies in him without success.
However, the Southdown Institute has a very sad reputation.
“Southdown is literally one of the tools that bishops around the world have used to cover up the sexual assault scandal”, underlines the Californian jurist Patrick J. Wall, a former religious specializing in the defense of victims of the clergy, interviewed as part of our documentary.
Not a pedophile, really?
Each time Boucher was sent there, it was at the request of religious leaders in Montreal who wanted his difficult personality treated. On the second recovery, in 2003, it was decided to give him an Abel test. This test is partly based on measuring the time a test person spends looking at pictures of children presented to them.
Psychologists at the Southdown Institute conclude through the test and to their assessments that Boucher is not a pedophile.
“It is an instrument [the Abel test] which has already had a certain popularity, but which quickly lost its reputation”, underlines in our documentary the psychologist Patrice Renaud, researcher at the Philippe-Pinel Institute of Montreal and at the University of Quebec in Outaouais.
“The problem with the [Abel test], he continues, is that it is relatively easy to manipulate the data. From the moment when one knows, when one knows the rational behind the instrument […], it becomes easy to act in such a way as to falsify the results, especially if one is the least intelligent.”
Retired judge Pepita Capriolo says she was 'flabbergasted' by Southdown's sloppy work. “I think it's a lack of responsibility on their part,” she says.
Contacted by our Bureau of Investigation, officials at the Southdown Institute declined to comment on Brian Boucher's case. They nevertheless indicated that they were no longer using the Abel test.
When Boucher finished his therapy at Southdown, he was deemed fit to resume his duties by the Archbishop of Montreal Jean-Claude Turcotte, now deceased, who assigns him a new parish. Boucher found himself parish priest at Our Lady of the Annunciation parish in 2005, in Mount Royal.
Our Lady of the Annunciation Church, Town of Mount Royal. Documentary on Brian Boucher.
As soon as he arrived, a committee of parishioners formed to oppose his coming, because of the bad reputation that preceded him.
But the authorities of the archdiocese then replied that Boucher was ” correct” and that it was “repaired” at Southdown, explains Ms. Capriolo. >
What is the Southdown Institute?
The Southdown Institute provides therapy to members of the Catholic clergy. Seen here are his former Aurora buildings in suburban Toronto. ATTENTION: THE LICENSE OF THE PHOTO IS VALID ONLY TO ILLUSTRATE THE TEXT ON THE DOCUMENTARY ABOUT PEDOPHILE PRIEST BRIAN BOUCHER.
Founded in 1966 by Canadian bishops, initially to treat clerics suffering from alcoholism, the Southdown Institute soon became involved in the treatment of pedophile priests. Many American clerics stayed there in the 80s and 90s, without being properly assessed, only to come out and immediately start their attacks on children again.
Some of them passed the Abel test (Abel Assessment for Sexual Interest), named after its inventor, the American researcher Gene Abel. Now outdated, the Abel test was already disputed at the time.
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Katrine Johns has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Gal Post, Katrine Johns worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7128