INDEPTH: CORNWALL PUBLIC INQUIRY
The Cornwall Public Inquiry: Getting to the bottom of a sex abuse scandal
CBC News Online | February 13, 2006
On Monday, Feb. 13, 2006, a public inquiry opened in Cornwall, Ont., into a case that has dogged the region for decades. It involved allegations that a ring of pedophiles had operated in the eastern Ontario community since the late 1950s.
There had been sordid tales that the ring passed its victims among its members, which allegedly included members of the region's Roman Catholic clergy, police and probation officers, and other professionals in the community.
In 1992, a former altar boy came forward to say he had been sexually abused by two Catholic priests in the late 1960s. He was the first person to allege abuse. But the Alexandria-Cornwall Roman Catholic Diocese agreed to pay him $32,000 in exchange for a vow of silence. The man then refused to co-operate with police and the investigation was dropped.
The Children's Aid Society pursued the case anyway, after a local police officer – Perry Dunlop – handed over the original complaint. Dunlop was disciplined for speaking out. Cornwall police investigated his concerns, but no charges were laid.
In 1997, a citizens group handed over written affidavits from alleged victims to Ontario's attorney general. The Ontario Provincial Police were persuaded to pick up the case. "Project Truth" was set up. Over its four years, the investigation led to more than 100 charges from gross indecency to sexual assault. A total of 15 people were charged.
But the OPP concluded there was no organized ring of pedophiles preying on Cornwall's youth.
"It doesn't mean it was a ring, just because the same person may or may not have been victimized by two different people," Det.-Sgt. Jim Miller said on Aug. 23, 2001, in announcing the end of the investigation.
A spokesperson for the Cornwall police force said Project Truth's conclusion that there was no pedophile ring lifted a cloud of suspicion over the city's police force – a force that had been accused of covering-up the existence of the ring.
Despite all the charges, only one person was ever convicted in the scandal. Jean-Luc Leblanc pleaded guilty in June 2001 to 12 attacks on 10 boys.
Some of the other suspects named in the case died before their cases got to trial. Others were either acquitted or their cases were tossed out. The last involved Jacques Leduc, who was once the lawyer for Cornwall's Roman Catholic archdiocese.
On Oct. 18, 2004, a judge stayed eight charges against Leduc because of unreasonable delays in his case. It was the second time the charges against him had been stayed. It marked the end of the legal road for Project Truth.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty had promised to get to the bottom of the allegations in Cornwall. Six months after the last court case wrapped, McGuinty announced that he was establishing the Cornwall Public Inquiry. That was on April 14, 2005.
Justice Normand Glaude of Sudbury, Ont., is shown in this undated handout photo.
(CP Photo/ Sudbury Star)
Justice G. Normand Glaude was asked to chair the inquiry. He's been an Ontario court judge since 1990. In 2000, he was appointed regional senior judge for the Northeast Region of Ontario.
Glaude's mandate is divided into two sections:
In opening the inquiry, Glaude said it would be a "lengthy and sometimes difficult process."
- Inquire into and report on the events surrounding allegations of abuse of young people in Cornwall by examining the response of the justice system and other public institutions to the allegations.
- Inquire into and report on processes, services and programs that will encourage community healing and reconciliation in Cornwall.
A total of 14 groups or individuals have been granted standing before the inquiry. One of the groups represents 48 people who say they were sexually abused by various individuals in the Cornwall area. "The perpetrators included a local lawyer, a teacher, two probation officers, two federal employees, a dozen priests, several Christian Brothers, a Bishop and many other residents of the Cornwall area," their brief states.
Their brief adds that the victims have suffered "long-lasting detrimental effects to their own lives." That's been compounded by what they've perceived to be a "lack of institutional response to their cries for help."
The early stages of the inquiry will hear testimony from experts in the field of child abuse. The inquiry is expected to hear some of the specific allegations of abuse by the end of March 2006.
Testimony is expected to wrap up by the end of 2006. Glaude's mandate is not to find criminal liability. His mission is to find out what happened and – if there was anything sinister – to make sure it never happens again.
Note: You can read more about Justice Glaude in the judges directory at http://www.OttawaMensCentre.com