Former Newfoundland and Labrador priest John Corrigan convicted in sexual abuse scandal dead at 86

The Telegram

December 30, 2017

[See also the two reports referenced below: the Hughes Report (Volume 1 and Volume 2); and the Winter Report (Volume 1, Volume 2, and the Conclusions and Recommendations). The Winter Report includes a section on Corrigan.

John Corrigan, a Roman Catholic priest once convicted in connection with the sexual abuse scandal that took place in the late 1980s died Thursday.

He was 86.

In December 1988, Corrigan pleaded guilty to five charges of gross indecency and two charges of sexual assault on young boys who ranged in ages from 10 to 13. He received a five-year prison sentence.

Eight other charges originally filed against Corrigan were dropped.

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Corrigan’s guilty plea came only two months after another Roman Catholic priest, Father James Hickey, also of St. John’s, was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting altar boys over 18 years. Hickey pleaded guilty to 20 offences and was sent to Dorchester penitentiary in New Brunswick to serve his sentence. He passed away in 1992.

Corrigan’s and Hickey’s convictions resulted in an investigation into sexual abuse at Mount Cashel Boys’ Orphanage to be reopened in February 1989.

A month later, former Mount Cashel resident Shane Earle went public with his story, triggering huge public reaction.

The provincial government took action, establishing a royal commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Ontario Supreme court Judge Samuel Hughes, to investigate how the justice system had handled complaints at Mount Cashel. The 156-day hearing saw more than 200 witnesses testify.

According to reports, Hughes concluded that that neither the RNC nor the justice department handled the 1975 and 1976 Mount Cashel files normally. It was found that government had acted improperly by giving Mount Cashel privileged status as a foster home.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s also commissioned an inquiry in 1989 into the sexual abuse of boys by members of the clergy and Christian Brothers.

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