William O’Sullivan

A Priest in Wolf’s Clothing: Diocese settlement satisfying to other Grecco victim William O’Sullivan

St. Catharines Standard [St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada]

January 6, 2022

By Kris Dubé

[Photo above: Survivor William O’Sullivan.]

‘Even though it’s financial, there’s some kind of accountability there,’ says St. Catharines resident abused at Welland church as a child

A recent settlement reached by a sexual abuse victim of Donald Grecco, who had sued the disgraced ex-priest and Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines, comes as gratifying news to William O’Sullivan.

“I’m glad to see this happen for him. It’s about time,” said O’Sullivan, who also was abused by Grecco, between the ages of nine and 12 at St. Kevin’s Catholic church in Welland, a place he had protested in front of weekly for more than two years.

In October 2017, Grecco received an 18-month sentence for sexually abusing three boys between 1975 and 1982. It was his second conviction for sexually abusing children; his total number of known victims is six.

Six months later, Grecco was granted an early release from Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene.

In 2010, he pleaded guilty to sexually molesting three altar boys between 1978 and 1986 while a parish priest in Cayuga and later in Welland. He was handed an 18-month sentence and two years’ probation for three counts of gross indecency.

This week, it was learned a civil lawsuit involving the diocese and one of Grecco’s victims ended in a $1-million settlement.

“There’s a lot of empathy, obviously, for those people,” said O’Sullivan, referring to victims of priests around the world, “but it seems like there’s more satisfaction when I read this about Grecco and the Catholic diocese of St. Catharines.

“Even though it’s financial, there’s some kind of accountability there.”

The 51-year-old St. Catharines resident said the settlement appears to be an attempt by the diocese to “reconcile” what happened to the man whose name can’t be disclosed due to a court-imposed publication ban.

O’Sullivan began a legal process “a few years ago” against the church, as well as the provincial government and former St. John’s Training School in Uxbridge, where he was sent as a teenager by the court system. He was also sexually abused there, he said.

O’Sullivan said he is acquainted with the man who recently settled his lawsuit, and that he is aware of “at least” seven more legal battles involving Grecco’s victims.

“Believe me, I’m looking forward to them coming forward and holding the church accountable.”

A date has yet to be set for his case to be heard in court.

O’Sullivan late last year embarked on a walk to Ottawa to raise awareness about child abuse.

His weekly protests outside St. Kevin’s have slowed down, but he plans to continue making noise at the diocese and other churches where Grecco served.

He recalled a man who had been abused by a priest, but had never shared his story, came by to speak with him once while outside the diocese.

“He was so distraught, I had to help him out of the car,” said O’Sullivan, who later put the man in touch with counsellors. They remain in contact with one another.

“It’s sad to see people come forward, but it’s also liberating,” he said.

The man, who recently settled his lawsuit filed it in 2017 against Grecco and the diocese, was abused while at St. Thomas More Church in Niagara Falls.

Grecco also served at St. Mary and St. Kevin churches in Welland, St. Alexander in Fonthill, St. George in Crystal Beach, St. Vincent de Paul in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Stephen in Cayuga.

The diocese could not be reached for comment Tuesday and Wednesday.

— With files from Alison Langley

Kris Dubé is a St. Catharines-based reporter for the Welland Tribune. Reach him via email: kris.dube@niagaradailies.com