|Crown Defended Following Misstatement
By Trevor Pritchard
November 14, 2008
Officials for the Ministry of the Attorney General say they are "considering (their) position'' after the commissioner of an eastern Ontario sexual abuse inquiry said there were allegations a Crown attorney sexually abused children.
Leslie McIntosh, a ministry lawyer, called commissioner Normand Glaude's remarks Wednesday that Murray MacDonald was a suspected child molester a "serious misstatement,'' and asked that the record show "clearly and unequivocally'' there were never any such allegations made against him.
"I cannot overstate the damage and distress that such a misstatement causes,'' McIntosh said Thursday. "And I am obliged to advise you, Mr. Commissioner, that the ministry and Mr. MacDonald will reserve their rights to raise the issue, should they be so advised.''
In a statement Thursday, ministry spokesperson Brendan Crawley said the Attorney General's office had not decided whether "anything else should be done.''
MacDonald is the Crown attorney in Cornwall, Ont., where the long-running Cornwall Public Inquiry has been hearing witnesses since early 2006.
On Wednesday, the inquiry heard from Det. Insp. Tim Smith, the retired Ontario Provincial Police investigator who in 1994 looked into allegations that Cornwall police and the Catholic church conspired to cover up sex abuse cases.
Smith had been explaining why he didn't feel MacDonald was a part of the alleged conspiracy when Glaude pointed out that at the time, there were allegations floating around that the Crown attorney had abused children.
Quickly realizing his mistake, Glaude apologized and admitted he misspoke.
He repeated those apologies Thursday.
"I certainly regret any distress that may have caused,'' the commissioner said. "However, given the length of this inquiry and given the complexity of it, I would hope that one would be forgiving for a misstatement, especially when it is corrected.''
At that point, MacDonald -- who was in the hearings room -- stood up and left.
Thursday was not the first time the Ministry of the Attorney General has leaped to MacDonald's defence.
In June 2007, a witness testified he'd seen MacDonald socializing with alleged child abusers at the Summerstown home of probation officer Ken Seguin, and a Stanley Island cottage owned by another former Crown attorney, Malcolm MacDonald.
Afterwards, a ministry spokesperson issued a statement saying the Ontario Provincial Police had investigated that allegation and found it "baseless.''
When reached Thursday afternoon, Murray MacDonald said the fact he is scheduled to testify prevented him from talking about Glaude's remarks.
"I will be in a position to comment at a later date,'' the Crown attorney said.
Glaude's statement might partially be explained by the fact there have been at least three Mac-Donalds discussed at the inquiry who faced sexual abuse charges -- including Malcolm MacDonald, Rev. Charles MacDonald, and Milton MacDonald, Murray MacDonald's father.
Of those three, only Milton Mac-Donald was ever convicted.
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