Earlier Reports of Priest's Abuse Surface in Diocese Files

CBC News [Canada]
December 21, 2006

Police reports relating to sexual abuse by former priest Charles Sylvestre dating back to 1962 have been found in a London, Ont., diocese filing cabinet, even though it had been believed reports of his abuse were first made in 1989.

Sylvestre, 84, was sentenced last October to three years in prison after he was convicted of indecent assault against 47 girls.

On Wednesday, London Bishop Ronald Fabbro said that three documents, dating back to 1962, were found in a diocese filing cabinet.

In the documents were transcribed interviews with three girls who told police how Sylvestre had touched them and exposed himself.

The diocese said the reports were not in Sylvestre's personnel file, but rather in the back of a cabinet full of accounting files.

Carol Meiros, of Kingston, Ont., said Sylvestre abused her as a young girl in the mid-'70s. She said she's not surprised old police reports were found at the diocese offices.

"I would imagine that there are many more. Certainly, I myself had gone to the diocese and reported abuse and I also reported it to police, and it was buried by both [the police and the diocese].

Lawyer Paul Ledroit has represented other cases of sexual abuse by priests. Each time, he said, officials with the diocese were asked to swear that they had diligently searched their files for such reports.

"Why weren't these files found before? What, when they were signing their affidavit allowed them to say they had conducted a diligent search?"

Bishop Fabbro said Wednesday his counterpart in 1962 would have been told about the police reports. He said he went public with the information about the documents now, because he is committed to being transparent and to helping victims heal.

Early in 2007, Bishop Fabbro said, he will begin the process of setting new policies for the London diocese, to prevent abuse of children by priests in the future.

Meiros said she hopes the Bishop considers the input of victims when setting those new policies.

Former Ont. Priest Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison


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