How a U.S. Child Sex Abuse Report Hit Close to Home in York Region

By Lisa Queen
July 25, 2019

Lisa Queen. Nov 7 2018. - Mike Barrett/Metroland

It’s about trust. Our relationship with our readers is built on transparency, honesty and integrity. As such, we have launched a trust initiative to tell you who we are and how and why we do what we do. This column is part of that project.

Even amid child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church globally, revelations in last summer’s Pennsylvania grand jury report commanded attention.

“We, the members of this grand jury, need you to hear this,” the report began.

“We know some of you have heard some of it before. There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale. For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”


Including here.

The report, I discovered, included details of seven Pennsylvanian priests guilty of a litany of sexual assaults against children who had been sent to York Region's Southdown Institute.

An accredited and independent but little-known mental health and addictions treatment centre for clergy, originally in Aurora and now in Holland Landing, Southdown stood accused of having been used as part of the church’s strategy of covering up abuse.

As a longtime York Region reporter, I knew predator priests weren’t always from elsewhere.

For example, Father Barry Glendinning, who served at Our Lady of Grace in Aurora in the 1980s among other parishes across Canada before eventually being convicted of six counts of gross indecency, had been treated at the centre.

It was important my story convey the devastation suffered by victims of child sexual abuse.

I interviewed Rob Talach, a London lawyer who has represented in civil suits hundreds of people preyed on by predator priests.

He asked a York Region victim if he would talk to me. Even with assurances I wouldn’t publish his name, the man couldn’t bring himself to publicly relive the abuse he suffered.

I did interview a U.S. victim.

And I talked to Newmarket’s Jacques Soucie, who shared the emotional toll sex abuse scandals facing the church were having on his congregation.

While Southdown initially declined to comment, the centre’s new president and chief psychologist, Father Stephan Kappler, invited me for a far-reaching interview earlier this year.

There were no restrictions on what I could ask.

“It’s painful but it has to be talked about. Because we’re only as unhealthy as our secrets,” Kappler said.

Which seems to me a good place to start.

We welcome your questions and value your comments. Email our trust committee at








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.