Trial Begins for Former Local Minister

By Aaron Hall
Daily News
December 2, 2008

he trial began yesterday for a 69-year-old former Chatham minister who faces sexual abuse allegations.

Robert James Duthie, of Cambridge, pleaded not guilty in Superior Court in Chatham to charges of indecent assault on a male and gross indecency stemming from incidents that took place between 1975-1982.

Assistant Crown attorney Rob Mac-Donald called the complainant to the stand, who is not being named.

The man testified that he met Duthie after his family switched to the Victoria Avenue United Church, where Duthie worked. The alleged victim, now 46, said he was 11 when he met Duthie.

"The first time I met him he embraced me with a hug," he said.

"I found it very strange . . . he would interlock his legs with mine and I could feel the bulge" of his private parts.

MacDonald asked the complainant if he recalled the "instances" which brought him to court.

"It's going to be hard," he said, fighting back tears.

The complainant described an incident at the age of 13 when Duthie invited him into his office at the church.

"I asked him, 'What do you want to talk about?' The next thing you know he was taking my clothes off," the complainant testified.

He said Duthie laid him across his lap and started caressing his back, chest and buttocks. He then moved to his genitalia, he said.

"I looked at him and asked 'Is this right in God's eye? . . . he said 'Yes, I also believe it's right in Jesus's eye, too.'"

The victim admitted he also became aroused. He also testified Duthie tried to penetrate him and kiss him.

"He told me we'll just keep this as a secret between us," he told the court.

On a different occasion, the man said another minister knocked on the door of Duthie's office, while he laid naked on his lap.

Duthie covered the complainant's mouth and told the person everything was OK, he said.

The complainant described a separate incident, which occurred at Duthie's home.

He said Duthie brought him into the recreational room in the basement and "told Fern (Duthie's wife at the time) he was going to do some counselling with (me).

"We'd go downstairs and he'd start taking my clothes off," he told the court.

Duthie took his own clothes off on this occasion, the alleged victim said.

"He asked me to touch his penis and I did," he said.

"That's all I did . . . it didn't feel right."

He testified Duthie performed oral sex on him as well.

"I couldn't believe it was going on in his own home, with his wife upstairs," he said.

The complainant said he was about 15 at the time of this incident. He described another incident, which occurred on a church retreat to a location outside of Forest.

He said Duthie woke him up in the middle of the night, brought him into the church and performed oral sex on him in front of the altar.

The alleged victim described an incident when he was 19 and living on his own. He said Duthie attended his apartment and performed oral sex.

The complainant said he never consented to any of the sexual occurrences.

"He did it so many times, I lost track and that's the hardest part," he told the court.

Defence lawyer David Jacklin requested the trial be adjourned before he began his cross-examination.

The trial is scheduled to resume this morning.


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