Priest who sexually abused 12 students at Rigaud school granted parole

Montreal Gazette [Montreal, Quebec, Canada]

October 26, 2022

By Paul Cherry

Parole decision reveals church knew decades ago Jean Pilon abused boys during the 1980s, but merely transferred him to another location.

A former Catholic priest who admitted last year that he sexually abused a dozen students at a school in Rigaud has been granted parole.

A written summary of the decision made by the Parole Board of Canada reveals Jean Pilon, 80, was suspected of having abused other people after he was transferred out of Quebec during the 1980s when allegations of his sexual abuse of boys first surfaced at Collège Bourget in Rigaud.

“Although you do not report any hidden criminality, a community assessment produced in September 2021 with your superior indicates that in order to ‘punish’ you (in connection with abuses committed), you were sent away during the 1980s. You came back to Quebec a few years later because it appears that you continued to commit such gestures (at the other unidentified location) as well, which you deny,” the parole board wrote. 

The assessment was done after Pilon pleaded guilty last year to 12 counts of gross indecency at a courthouse in Valleyfield.

In 2020, Pilon and four other former priests residing at the same retirement residence in Joliette were arrested by the Sûreté du Québec. They were all former members of the Clercs de St-Viateur au Canada and were alleged to have abused minors while the priests were teachers at the high school in Rigaud and at two institutions in Matane and Pohénégamook.

Pilon is serving a 42-month sentence he received in July 2021. The victims were abused between 1982 and 1988.

According to the parole board’s decision: “For some victims, there was only one event while for others, the acts were repeated on several occasions. The gestures began with massages and sometimes ended with more intrusive gestures of a sexual nature.”

The octogenarian has not posed a problem for Correctional Service Canada and he took part in a program to treat sexual deviance. However, the person who runs the program told Pilon’s case management team, the people who prepare an offender for parole, that “you did not acknowledge any deviant sexual interest or sexual intent in these crimes.” Finally, he mentioned that “despite the fact that you were a positive and active participant, the fact that you felt there was little sexuality or not at all made the interventions more difficult.”

Pilon completed another program, designed to address his risk factors, and showed improvement. His parole officer told the board he seems to have “become aware of sexual intentions that you had (when he abused the children). You have understood, according to her, that the massages were excuses, or shortcuts, to live out your sexuality.” 

The parole board agreed with a recommendation that Pilon should be released to a halfway house for three months before he is granted full parole.

Another priest who taught at Collège Bourget, Laurent Madore, 85, pleaded guilty last year to four counts of gross indecency involving four victims. In Madore’s case, the abuse occurred between 1971 and 1986. On Dec. 15, he was sentenced to a 30-month prison term. Two of the other priests who were arrested in 2020 — Raoul Jomphe, 88, and Roger Larue, 91 — also pleaded guilty last year to charges involving sexual abuse. They received sentences that did not involve incarceration.

Gérard Whissell, 84, the other former priest who was arrested by the SQ two years ago, has a case pending at the Valleyfield courthouse.