Cornwall Sex Abuse Inquiry Set to Open

CBC News [Canada]
February 12, 2006

A public inquiry into a decades-old sexual abuse scandal in eastern Ontario is set to begin on Monday.

People who reported having been abused and their families in Cornwall demanded the inquiry into how the justice system responded to allegations that high-profile members of the community sexually abused children over the course of 50 years.

Initial police investigations found no wrongdoing, sparking the first allegations of a coverup. In 1997, a provincial police investigation called Project Truth resulted in 114 charges against 15 men, including doctors, lawyers and three Catholic priests.

But only one person, unconnected to the alleged sex ring, was ever convicted of sexual offences.

Some of those who said they were abused claimed that since the perpetrators were in positions of power in the community of about 50,000, those responsible were able to manipulate the system so that they were never arrested.

In 1992, a former altar boy came forward to say he had been sexually abused by two Catholic priests in the late 1960s.

The Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese agreed to pay him $32,000 in exchange for a vow of silence. The man then refused to co-operate with police and the investigation was dropped.

A lawyer for one of the priests was later charged and found guilty of obstruction of justice for his role in the deal.

The inquiry will look into how police, courts, the Children's Aid Society and the Catholic Church handled the sexual abuse allegations, but it won't draw any conclusions about criminal liability.


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