Former Ottawa priest convicted of molesting altar boys in 1969-74
By Tom Spears
March 30, 2016
|Former Ottawa priest, Jacques Faucher, convicted of molesting altar boys in 1969-74.|
They were altar boys mostly aged nine to 11, given a gold star each time they attended mass, and sometimes invited to see Rev. Jacques Faucher in private.
Let’s practise a prayer, he’d say to one. Let’s watch a hockey game, he said to another. To a third: Let’s look at my stamp collection.
Then he would sit them on his knee and start touching them.
Faucher, 79, was convicted Wednesday of six counts of indecent assault and gross indecency, all involving young boys from the former Notre-Dame-des-Anges parish near Tunney’s Pasture. The charges date from 1969 to 1974, when Faucher was a priest there.
He was convicted of molesting three of five boys who testified against him. Judge Pierre Roger acquitted him on charges involving two other boys, not discounting their stories but saying there was a reasonable doubt.
“I wanted to have the most stars. I loved going to mass, but that changed dramatically,” one of the victims said outside court after the decision. (By court order, none of the victims can be publicly identified.)
“We were all emotionally abused. The emotional scars still last today,” he said. “At least for me I can put it to rest a little bit,” but he worries that the two men whose testimony did not lead to convictions will still suffer.
“I had one event (assault), and I’ve been battling it all my years, and I thought I was alone,” the man said. “People say, ‘Why don’t you talk to your friends?’ and it’s the kind of thing where, especially at that time, the priest is the pillar of society.
“So you don’t talk against the priest. So I couldn’t alert my friends, they couldn’t alert me, we just didn’t talk.
“So you feel alone for 40 years, right?”
He had decades of flashbacks that would come out of nowhere at times. Other times, he would read or hear a news story where someone said something kind about Faucher. He would feel the hate boil up, though it didn’t show on the outside.
“I’m known as a very happy and relaxed and smiling person.”
Even in later years when there were news reports of pedophile priests he kept silent. He told himself: “It’s one event, so many years ago … All the heartache I’m going to go through for that one thing — it didn’t seem to be worth it.”
Then three years ago he learned that one man from Notre-Dame-des-Anges had gone to the police, and that Faucher had been charged.
“I said to myself, well, I’d better come forward to help this other guy.
“And from that point on, it’s the point when I stopped thinking about it. And that was my release, when I could see that I was not actually alone, and that I could talk to people. I started talking to my father, my mother, my family and friends. And now it’s just a matter of due course to make sure he gets what he well deserves.”
Faucher will undergo a psychiatric examination before he is sentenced.
The five complainants all told much the same story. The priest would invite them inside and have them sit on his knee. He would rub their backs and shoulders, but didn’t touch their genitals. Some of the boys later reported they could feel that he had an erection, but others did not. (The cases where the witnesses couldn’t recall whether the priest had an erection were the cases where he was acquitted.)
Some reported one occurrence, others four to five.
Faucher didn’t testify at the trial, but court heard that he admitted to police that he had been sexually excited in these encounters, and sometime ejaculated in his pants.
The victim said in the interview that he himself is doing well, but one of the four others has had a difficult time with alcohol and drugs. That man was the first to go to the police, but the judge acquitted Faucher on those counts.
“I’ve never gone to church since that time,” said the victim in the interview, “and I used to go to church all the time.
“I’m not a believer any more.”
A statement from Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast says the archbishop has extended “indefinitely” an order he made when Faucher was arrested in 2013. This suspends him from all ministry and prohibits him from representing himself as a Catholic priest.