Duthie Denies Allegations

By Aaron Hall
The Daily News

December 4, 2008

Judge's Decision In Case Expected To Be Made Today

Rev. Robert James Duthie denied all allegations of sexual abuse yesterday.

The 69-year-old former minister of Victoria Avenue United Church in Chatham was called as a witness by his lawyer David Jacklin during the third day of the trial in Superior Court.

"During your time at Victoria Avenue United Church was there ever any type of sexual activities of any kind with you and (the complainant)?" Jacklin asked his client.

Duthie replied "no."

The retired minister, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, testified that during his time as pastor at Victoria Avenue United Church from 1972-1981, he recalled the complainant attending the church.

"Not a great memory of him but a memory," Duthie told the court.

Duthie said the alleged victim likely attended his home, his office at church, and the winter retreats to Forest during his tenure at the local church.

Duthie said he was invited over to the home of the complainant, who was 19 or 20 at the time.

"He called me and wanted to come over," Duthie testified.

"He wanted to talk to me."

Assistant Crown attorney Rob MacDonald questioned Duthie regarding the complainants "problematic home life" growing up.

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Duthie told the court he was aware of the problems and tried to help the complainant through pastoral care.

MacDonald referred to a transcript of a videotaped interview that Det. Jim Niven of the Chatham-Kent Police Service conducted with Duthie on July 25, 2006.

MacDonald read a question from Niven which asked Duthie if he wanted to help the complainant. Duthie replied "maybe I'm not the one to help him," MacDonald read.

Duthie said he was sorry "if it was I that has hurt" the complainant, MacDonald read.

In open court Duthie explained his rationale for his comments.

"I'm really trying to provide myself as a caring person to help him and be able to get further help," he testified.

After a break, Jacklin and MacDonald made their final submissions to Superior Court Justice Terrence Patterson.

Jacklin said his defence was based solely of the credibility of the witnesses -- primarily from the complainant.

Jacklin said the alleged victim's lack of memory from the Forest incident and his past drug, alcohol and gambling addictions discredits the allegations.

"There is nothing you can point to that lays credence to his testimony," Jacklin told the court.

Jacklin said Duthie's testimony was given in a "direct manner" and "he was unshaken" during cross-examination from MacDonald.

"Even if you were to disbelieve the accused," Jacklin told Patterson.

"Based on the evidence of the complainant . . . there is reasonable doubt."

MacDonald said the alleged victims spotty memory can be "appropriately" connected to someone "telling the truth.

"Rather than someone who is concocting a tale. There were in fact too many incidents . . . many blended together. For someone suffering from this type of serial abuse, what he said makes perfect sense," he told the court.

MacDonald discredited Duthie's testimony as well.

"The court can quite confidently reject his denial," he said.

MacDonald said Duthie's statement to Niven had Duthie "offering an apology" to the complainant, somewhat proving his guilt.

"I would simply suggest Rev. Duthie is a man who is very torn . . . he's not telling the truth," MacDonald said.

Court is scheduled to resume at 2 p. m. today.

Patterson said "I will give you my decision then."

Duthie, of Cambridge, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges of indecent assault on a male and gross indecency stemming from incidents that allegedly took place between 1975-1982.


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