|"The Author of His Own Misfortune"
By John Vessoyan
October 30, 2010
Wearing a navy blue jacket and light blue shirt, Donald Grecco sat in the prisoner's box inside the John Sopinka Courthouse and avoided making eye contact with two of his victims and their supporters.
About 15 kilograms lighter than he was in the summer, Grecco looked frail as he listened for nearly four hours to his lawyer, Brian Donnelly, who offered mitigating circumstances and submissions before his client would be sentenced for the crimes he committed against three teenaged boys in cases that date back 30 years.
Grecco, a former Roman Catholic priest, didn't receive his judgment Friday afternoon as was expected. Instead, his sentencing has been delayed a third time. Court will reconvene Nov. 26 to hear the Crown's submissions. The new date for sentencing has been set for Dec. 14 in Hamilton.
In March, Grecco pleaded guilty to three counts of gross indecency for molesting altar boys in the 1970s and 1980s.
On Friday, the defence argued Grecco should serve his term in the community with strict restrictions, or at the most, get a two-year-less-a-day reformatory sentence.
In November, court will hear what the Crown believes his penalty should be.
During his lengthy submissions, which started at about 11 a.m., Donnelly told the court that considering incidents involving Grecco and the altar boys happened more than 25 years ago, his client is at low risk to reoffend. He also cited Grecco's health issues for reasons to give him a lesser sentence.
The defence said Grecco had colon cancer, which he underwent surgery for on July 12, and also suffers from arthritis, anxiety and colitis for which he needs routine care and surveillance.
The defence argued Grecco's assaults on the teenagers aren't as severe as some other sexual abuse cases that have been presented to Canadians courts in recent years. With all three boys, Donnelly pointed out that there was no sexual intercourse or penetration, nor was there any oral sex performed on Grecco or his victims. Also, Grecco, now 70, didn't use drugs, alcohol or violence when he molested the boys.
"No high-end sexual assault of any kind," Donnelly said.
In a pair of telephone conversations with one of his victims about two years ago, Grecco apparently apologized for his actions and wishes he could retract them, court heard.
"My client can't repair the damage that has followed these men into adulthood," Donnelly said.
Grecco was born on March 6, 1940, in St. Catharines. He was raised in Thorold along with his brothers Patrick, Richard and Denis, who all spent time in the priesthood.
Grecco attended Notre Dame College School in Welland, then spent a few years studying in New Brunswick.
In 1960, he attended St. Augustine Seminary, where he received his bachelor of theology. He was ordained in St. Catharines in 1966. He served as a pastor at St. Mary's and St. Kevin's in Welland, St. Thomas More in Niagara Falls, St. Stephen's in Cayuga, St. Vincent de Paul in Niagara-on-the-Lake and St. Alexander in Fonthill. He ended his stint at St. Alexander in 1998 and left the priesthood in 2000.
In 2002, Grecco got married and worked as a grief and marriage counsellor before retiring in 2008.
Now with all of his criminal and legal problems -- he's named in a $3-million lawsuit launched by victim Michael Blum -- Grecco has separated from his wife and a divorce is forthcoming, court heard on Friday.
Grecco remains in custody facing a charge for failing to notify authorities of his change of address while awaiting sentencing. Nobody has come forward to post bail for him. He returns to a Picton court for that matter on Nov. 3.
His attorney said Grecco is "the author of his own misfortune."
Following the proceedings on Friday, Blum spoke with the media.
The victim said he wants to see his former tormentor serve time in a federal prison. He also said he and the other victims are tired of waiting for Grecco to receive his fate.
"It's been a long waiting game all along. It doesn't surprise me. I was very hopeful, but I was hopeful 2 1/2 years ago when I started this. Just hope for the best," Blum said.
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