|Priest Guilty in Attacks: Sexually Molested 13 Young Boys
By Tina Peplinski
January 15, 2008
PEMBROKE -- Monsignor Bernard Prince was sentenced yesterday to four years in a federal penitentiary for sexually abusing 13 boys.
The retired priest pleaded guilty to 11 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault. He was found guilty on another count of indecent assault.
Prince's name will be added to the national sex offender registry for the next 20 years. He must also provide a sample of his DNA and is prohibited from attending any public parks or pools, or volunteering where children under the age of 14 are present.
The abuse occurred at his Wilno cottage and Ottawa apartment. At the time of the incidents, the boys, all from devout Roman Catholic families, ranged in age from 12 to 16 years.
Twelve of the victims and their families packed the Pembroke courtroom to hear the decision.
Two of the men read their victim impact statements aloud and Crown attorney John Pepper read the remaining four.
One man, now 42, looked the 72-year-old Prince in the eye as he described the years he's spent trying to understand why he was a victim.
"I am sad to say that the only answer can be that my innocence, poverty, and admiration made me an easy target and his respected stature in the community and Catholic church as a priest gave him the perfect opportunity to take advantage of this easy target," he said.
In response to the four-year sentence, the victim said the Canadian system has to be much tougher if it is going to deter priests or other adults from abusing young children.
"They must hand out a punishment that equals the torment of the victims of these crimes," he said.
It was very important for the man to read his statement and direct the comments directly at his abuser.
"I want him to understand the amount of pain and emotional torment I've felt," he explained.
The other man, now 41, told the court he has thought about the abuse every day for the past 20 years, but was prepared to go to the grave with his secret.
"I lived a lie all my life as my family brought me up to be a devout Catholic, respect the church, however no one could learn of the terrible acts Msgr. Prince perpetrated on me," he read, hands trembling.
He contemplated suicide on four occasions, wanting to end his life because he could no longer bear the pain.
He said the priest's guilty plea and sentencing provided some sense of relief.
"He was found guilty of what I knew all my life," he said. " I don't think any sentence will replace what he took away from us."
Prior to hearing the sentence, Prince addressed the court and his victims, acknowledging his moral and legal wrongdoing.
"I want to sincerely apologize to everyone concerned, for the harm I've caused directly or indirectly," he said in a clear voice, reading from a notepad he carried with him throughout the proceedings.
"My wish is to begin the healing process and not frustrate it in any way," he continued. "I wished what is true to be known."
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