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Priest accused of sex abuse allowed to teach despite ‘psycho-sexual tendencies’

ADRIAN GHOBRIAL, MEREDITH BOND AND JESSICA BRUNO | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2020

CAUTION: This story contains graphic content related to allegations of sexual assault and might be upsetting to some readers.

If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence, you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. 

If you’re a Catholic Priest accused of sexually assaulting a child in North America, there’s a good chance you could be sent to a sprawling inpatient complex just north of Toronto many have never heard of.

Southdown Treatment Centre is run by Catholic clergy to treat those in religious life with a long list of diagnoses, including pedophilia. Reports by its staff have shaped the Church’s decisions on how to handle admitted sexual abusers – including whether to allow them to continue to teach and minister to children.

CityNews first became aware of Southdown as part of its investigation into Father Leo Campbell, the now-deceased priest, teacher and principal, who allegedly abused teen boys, including Peter Luci.

Fr. Campbell was a member of the Basilian Fathers of Toronto, whose headquarters are in Toronto. The order’s calling is to teach, and they operate or staff schools and universities across Canada and into the United States and South America.

The Basilians’ personnel file on Fr. Campbell shows that he was sent to Southdown for evaluation twice, each time after allegations arose that he had sexually abused a minor.

The first time he checked in for a 10-day stay was in spring 1980. At the time, Fr. Campbell was working as assistant pastor in Windsor’s Assumption Parish, where he was also responsible for Chaplaincy at Assumption High School.

The incident that led to his stay at Southdown has been redacted from the staff’s report on Fr. Campbell’s time there. However, as part of the priest’s conditions of treatment, the full report was sent to his Basilian superiors at the time. An uncensored portion of the report does appear in a 2008 document by a Basilian priest investigating Luci’s allegations against Fr. Campbell.

It says when Fr. Campbell was at Southdown, he admitted to sexually touching a 14-year-old boy in the 1970s. The report reads, “He said that this boy initiated sexual touching with him and that they started to mutually kiss each other and fondle each other’s genitals.”

Southdown’s assessment of Fr. Campbell concluded that he had “psycho-sexual tendencies” and recommended he stay in treatment for three months. However, Fr. Canice Connors, the Catholic psychologist who was Southdown’s executive director, wrote that he did not believe Fr. Campbell needed immediate care.

Southdown letter regarding … by CityNewsToronto

 

He noted in his discharge letter to the Basilians that when Fr. Campbell learned of other priests with pedophilic tendencies, “It helped him to feel he was not a complete oddity but represented a variant of human behaviour.”

Fr. Connors concluded: “He will have to be cautious in his expression of affection for his students. [But there] would be no reason to dissuade him from undertaking his teaching post in the Fall.”

That September, Fr. Campbell would take a teaching post at St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Mary, where he met Peter Luci, a timid 15-year-old away from home for the first time.

CityNews reached out to the Basilians multiple times, requesting an on-camera interview with one of their top priests, Vicar General David Katulski. Father Katulski is the Basilians’ contact person for victims of sexual abuse. He’s also the order’s spokesperson, though he never responded to our emails. Instead, the Basilians’ longtime lawyer denied our requests.

Eventually, we sent a detailed list of questions for an official response. The order wouldn’t speak about specific priests or events, including the role Southdown played in the Basilians’ handling of Fr. Campbell. Their lawyer did forward a statement addressing some of our questions about policy and the history of the Basilians’ understanding of sex abuse.

“There has never been any doubt or misunderstanding that sexual abuse of a child is, and always has been, wrong,” the Basilians write. “Where there has been historical misunderstanding by professionals, the Basilians included, is with respect to the impact of sexual abuse upon a child.”

Full response from the Basi… by CityNewsToronto

 

The statement says professionals, including the Basilians, historically believed children wouldn’t remember sexual abuse “and would not be impacted by it.” It goes on to say, in the past, attraction to children wasn’t well understood, which contributed to the thinking that sex abuse “was a moral failing, and could be addressed by deeper spiritual focus and commitment.”

A second stay at Southdown

Spring 1980 wouldn’t be the last time Fr. Campbell checked into Southdown.

In 1992, while Fr. Campbell was principal of Toronto’s prestigious all-boys St. Michael’s College School, he was again evaluated after another historic sexual abuse claim came to light. The details of the allegation are unknown, but it allegedly occurred in 1974 in Windsor and involved a then-14-year-old victim.

Fr. Campbell denied the allegation but remained at Southdown for three months of treatment.

Southdown’s mental health team reported that “Leo experiences sexual arousal or feelings of sexual pleasure, sexual ideation or urges by looking at certain young boys from ages 10 or 11, up to 18. He clearly states that his sexual attraction towards these boys is lost beyond their late teens.”

A Southdown therapist diagnosed Fr. Campbell with ephebophilia — a sexual attraction to teenagers — and concluded he should have no unsupervised contact with early teenage boys.

The therapist told the Basilians, “Leo was able to acknowledge all the sexually abusive or problematic behaviour as identified in the presenting issue. To his credit he admitted more than we had known. He was very direct and honest in talking about all the sexual activities which caused him shame and embarrassment.”

In the time since Fr. Campbell’s first stay at Southdown, the Church and Canadian society at large was forced to acknowledge the prevalence of child sexual abuse. A major scandal in Newfoundland revealed dozens of children who had been harmed by predator priests, forcing the Canadian Church to systemically address the issue for the first time.

“It’s amazing how late we started paying attention to the issue.”

“I was practising pediatrics just at the time when society was becoming aware of the devastating harm of sexual abuse on children,” says Sister Nuala Kenny, a Catholic nun and pediatrician who has been at the forefront of the Canadian Church’s examination of sexual assault scandals for four decades.

“It’s amazing how late we started paying attention to the issue.”

In the late 1980s, the Church convened a committee to review its response to the sex abuse crisis, including why some leaders allowed known offending priests to continue to have access to children. Sr. Kenny was on that committee. It also included a nun who was a former counsellor at Southdown, and a priest who was a former director there.

Their report, From Pain to Hope, was released in 1992, the same year Fr. Campbell was re-admitted to Southdown. The committee’s report is split on whether convicted priests should return to ministry: “Some people refuse even to consider the possibility. Others insist with equal vigour that human beings have immense potential for radical conversion.”

Ultimately, the report recommends Church leaders “decide, in consultation with the treatment centre,” what’s best in each case. “Such a decision must give the protection of children first priority and, correspondingly, evaluate the potential risk constituted by the priest’s eventual return to the ministry.”

The priest would have to recognize he had a problem, and agree to maintain a relatively low profile in the community. His superiors would also have to ensure an effective system of monitoring was available, along with support groups and programs.

As Fr. Campbell prepared to leave Southdown, his therapist began to discuss appropriate next steps for the priest with the Basilians. Though Fr. Campbell was never formally convicted of abuse, she placed him on Southdown’s sexual abuse protocol. Plans for his ongoing care included monthly follow-up calls or letters, sporadic in-person visits, and access to a crisis line, for two years after his discharge.

The therapist said that while Fr. Campbell told therapists he did not have sexual contact with young boys for the past 12 years, “prudence and a consideration for the safety of Leo and any potential victims necessitates removal of him from his position.”

After his Southdown stay, Fr. Campbell initially didn’t return to St. Michael’s College School. Instead he became a chaplain at St. Thomas More College in Saskatoon, which was founded by the Basilians. During the application process, the Basilians informed the post-secondary school’s president of Fr. Campbell’s diagnosis, and stated they supported his application.

The president of Southdown also supported his hiring, writing to the head of the college: “There exists little likelihood of him offending in the future. We cannot of course offer any guarantees of future behaviour, but […] the risk involved in his serving at St. Thomas College would be minimal.”

As his therapist noted to the Basilians, Fr. Campbell chose a position “which removes him from the target population.”

However, that would not last.

In 1998, Fr. Campbell was allowed to return St. Michael’s College School, where he oversaw the spiritual guidance of students as the school’s chaplain and taught religion.

A source also tells CityNews the priest also travelled with the private school’s provincial Junior A hockey team, the Buzzers, and was responsible for saying prayers before games.

In a statement to CityNews, St. Michael’s College School says, “to the knowledge of the current school administration, the Basilian Fathers of Toronto did not inform the school administration, at that time, of any allegations against Fr. Campbell.”

The school was founded by the Basilian Fathers, whose priests continue to sit on the board of directors, teach and fill senior administrative positions. The school used to have a bursary in Fr. Campbells’ name, but it was removed in 2015, the same year Peter Luci’s lawsuit was settled.

A recent copy of the Basilian’s sex abuse policy states that priests convicted of child sex abuse who want to continue as clergy “will in most cases be under lifetime supervision.”

“Without in any way excusing or minimizing the gravity of the offence, Basilians should treat [an offending priest] as a brother in community,” states the policy. “Like the victim, he has a right to whatever therapeutic and rehabilitative measures may be judged efficacious.”

Priests and psychology

“What has gone largely unremarked in the scandal is that the Church’s embrace of psychology and psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s presented opportunities to identify and tackle clergy child sexual abuse,” writes U.S. historian Tom McCarthy.

Part of a practice going back decades, Southdown provides Church leaders with “comprehensive clinical and candidate assessments.” Similar facilities also exist in the United States.

“These are strictly funded by the Catholic church, only Catholic clergy and religious [orders] can attend, and most of the staff, or a large percentage of the staff are Catholic clergy or Catholic employees,” notes lawyer Rob Talach, who has been involved in more than 400 cases against Catholic clergy. “So at the end of the day, you have to ask: are they doing what’s best for society or doing what’s best for the Church?”

Psychologically assessing candidates for the priesthood started in the 1940s in the U.S., says McCarthy. By the end of the 1960s, as many as 30 per cent of applicants were being psychologically assessed.

The tests screened applicants for general psychological disorders, not specifically attraction to minors. McCarthy writes that in retrospect, more attention should have been paid to the three-quarters of recent recruits who displayed signs of psycho-sexual immaturity.

A landmark study by criminologists at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, at the City University of New York, examined U.S. Catholic church files from the 1950s to 1980s, and tallied nearly 4,500 accused priests and 11,000 alleged victims.

McCarthy argues that back then, with so many priests’ assessments and treatment files at their disposal, psychologists and the Church missed a chance to connect the dots and identify a systemic issue.

“Throughout the clergy sexual abuse scandal, bishops and church spokesmen have generally taken a ‘Who knew?’ stance. ‘We had no idea that these cases were so numerous.’ ‘What could we have done in any case?’” notes McCarthy. “There is some truth to these statements. But victims, victims’ advocates and the John Jay studies demolished the idea that bishops and religious superiors did not know.”

At the height of the abuse, psychologists were still trying to understand human sexuality, attraction to minors and its consequences, writes McCarthy. As late as the 1970s, he notes child sex abuse was not clearly established to be harmful to victims, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that concern for victims emerged.

Canadian church leaders had started consulting psychological experts in the 1970s on whether clergy who assaulted children could go back to work.

“It has become clear with time that the diagnosis and treatment of offenders was extremely difficult and the incidence of recidivism very high.”

“Unfortunately, the advice they received proved too optimistic,” says Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a 2018 message on child sex abuse policies. “It has become clear with time that the diagnosis and treatment of offenders was extremely difficult and the incidence of recidivism very high.”

Sr. Kenny says the lack of understanding doesn’t excuse Church members who knew of abusers and didn’t stop them: “Even when he didn’t understand the magnitude of the profound harm, he understood that it was a sin.”

In their statement, the Basilians list “some of the things historically not known, misunderstood, or understood wrongly” about child sexual abuse.

“Treatment providers often treated those against whom allegations of sexual abuse had been made and, believing them to be cured, cleared them to return to work.”

It was also thought “over-use or abuse of alcohol led to sexually abusive behaviour (stop the consumption of alcohol and the abuse would stop).”

Now clinicians can better distinguish between situational offenders and those whose sexual orientation is fixed on children, note the Canadian bishops in their 2018 report. The group says Church leaders now have more reliable assessments of priests to rely on.

In the wake of the early “too optimistic” evaluations of offenders, the bishop’s group says “experience has taught everyone how crucial it is to adhere to an attitude of ‘zero tolerance.’”

If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence, you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. 

CityNews has created a Facebook group to give survivors of child sexual assault a safe place for them to know they’re not alone.

This is a confidential space in hopes that those who’ve been abused by a Basilian Father or a priest from any Catholic order may want to share their story, either anonymously or with their name.

You can request to join here.

‘It’s like a pressure cooker in the house:’ Calls to helplines jump during pandemic

BRENNA OWEN, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2020

Several helplines for women experiencing violence at home are reporting dramatic increases in calls since public health measures aimed at fighting the spread of COVID-19 came into effect last spring.

The urgency and severity of many callers’ situations have also intensified, said Angela MacDougall, the executive director of Battered Women’s Support Services based in Vancouver.

“What women are saying is that it’s like a pressure cooker in the house and there isn’t a valve,” she said in an interview.

The United Nations has called violence against women and girls a “shadow pandemic” as the COVID-19 crisis fuels social isolation and tensions caused by concerns over health, safety and financial security.

Claudine Thibaudeau, a social worker and clinical supervisor at the Montreal-based helpline SOS domestic violence, said the pandemic has become a “new tool” for abusers to gain power.

The helpline has fielded calls from women diagnosed with COVID-19 who were then kicked out by their abuser, she said, while others are confined to their homes, cut off from support.

As cases climb across Canada, particularly in Quebec, and several provinces tighten health restrictions again, “we’re basically back to square one,” said Thibaudeau.

SOS serves women across Quebec and received about 33,000 calls between April 2019 and last March. This year, Thibaudeau said calls spiked in April before levelling off in July, though it’s hard to say how the pandemic contributed to the increase because the helpline has stepped up its outreach in recent years.

But calls from family, friends and even employers of women experiencing violence have increased significantly, she said, since public health restrictions mean victims are more isolated.

“They were more worried because they couldn’t keep an eye on the situation.”

Leaving an abusive relationship is already difficult and may require significant preparation, added Thibaudeau.

She said the pandemic has exacerbated existing fears and challenges as she explained the kinds of questions women are asking.

“If I go to a shelter now, if I decide to leave my violent partner today, how can I be sure that I’m going to be able to shop for a new place to live? And to go to court to get my kids?” she said. “Is the court system going to remain open or is it going to close down and for how long?”

In B.C., the Battered Women’s crisis line received more than 1,800 calls in March, doubling the number of calls received for the same month a year earlier, said MacDougall. Calls more than tripled in April compared with the same month in 2019 before levelling off later in the summer, she said.

The number of calls the crisis line receives usually ticks up by five to 10 per cent each year, however the increases in the months corresponding with the start of the pandemic were “massive,” said MacDougall.

In Toronto, the Assaulted Women’s Helpline usually receives about 4,000 calls per month, said resource development manager Yvonne Harding.

This year, counsellors picked up more than 55,000 calls between March and September alone, she said. Call volume began ticking up in March and hit a peak of about 8,000 calls in June. An additional 11,630 calls didn’t get through or were dropped before connecting.

Women have called the helpline from bathrooms or closets when their abuser was taking out the garbage, said Harding, who has also noticed an escalation in the severity of abusive behaviour in the calls.

“Where things maybe were at a level of emotional abuse and verbal abuse, they’ve crossed the line into physical abuse. Where things were already physical, it crossed another line into threats and fear for their safety and their life.”

The helpline serves women across Ontario and Harding said she’s heard from shelter workers in rural areas who noticed an “eerie silence” in the first few weeks of COVID-19 restrictions.

“You don’t just hop on a city bus to be able to get to the shelter,” she said. “It could be tens of miles away before you can access some of the resources and if your partner is home with you it’s a lot more difficult.”

Call volumes to helplines outpace police data, which often showed marginal fluctuations or dips in reported incidents of violence.

A Statistics Canada analysis using data from 17 police departments across the country shows reports of assaults by family members dropped by 4.3 per cent and reports of sexual assaults by family dropped 17.7 per cent between March and June compared with the same four months last year.

However, it shows calls to police related to domestic disturbances increased by nearly 12 per cent. It says such disputes could involve “anything from a verbal quarrel to reports of violence.”

It’s well established that incidents of domestic and sexual violence are under-reported to police and a lack of data has contributed to “gross underestimates” of the prevalence of gender-based violence in Canada, said Colleen Varcoe, a violence researcher and nursing professor at the University of British Columbia.

Varcoe said she is not surprised the number of reports to some police agencies have stayed the same or dipped during the pandemic because there have been even fewer opportunities for victims to seek help.

The pool of people who may call police to report abuse or express concern, such as friends, neighbours, employers or kids’ teachers, has also shrunk, she said.

The Canadian Press contacted police agencies in all 13 provinces and territories requesting the number of reports related to domestic and intimate partner violence between March and June this year compared with the same time last year.

The departments track the reports differently. Some provided separate data about violence between intimate partners, while others included intimate partner violence under the broader category of domestic violence, which could involve parents, children or other family members. Domestic and intimate partner violence may also constitute other crimes, such as sexual assault, harassment or forcible confinement.

The police data show marginal increases in incidents reported in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax, as well as to the RCMP in B.C. for criminal offences related to intimate partner violence. Police in Winnipeg said there was no notable change in the number of reports received.

The exceptions were in Saskatoon, where police reported a 17 per cent increase in calls related to domestic violence, and in Alberta, where the Mounties reported a year-over-year increase of about 11 per cent between March and September. Yukon RCMP also recorded an increase in reports.

Police data show decreases of about 14 per cent in Calgary and Montreal.

Malin Enstrom, a crime analyst and criminologist with the intimate partner violence unit at the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, said they also received fewer reports than usual in February and March.

It was a concerning anomaly, she said in an interview, since the provincial police service has seen fairly steady increases in reports over the years as it expands its outreach.

And, like Harding and MacDougall, Enstrom said they’ve received more “severe” calls.

“Even though we saw the decrease in calls, the ones that came in, they were at a point of escalating.”

The number of reports levelled off when people in Atlantic Canada were allowed to expand social interactions to include a second household in late April, said Enstrom, speculating that the loosening of restrictions meant women had better access to support.

Data from the RCMP in Manitoba show a decrease of 34 per cent and in New Brunswick, RCMP data show a 21 per cent decrease in reported incidents of intimate partner violence between March and June.

Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said a four-month snapshot does not indicate a trend and complaints of domestic violence remain one of the most common calls the RCMP receive in New Brunswick.

RCMP divisions in Nunavut, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia were unable to provided data in time for publication, while Quebec provincial police and the Ontario Provincial Police did not respond to requests for data.

The federal government has announced it will double emergency funding for organizations serving people experiencing gender-based violence, bringing the total to $100 million.

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Province hiring 600 new COVID-19 contact tracers, case managers

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Oct 15th, 2020

The Province of Ontario announced Wednesday that they are hiring 600 new contact tracers and case managers to help track, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19.

One hundred contact tracers have already been hired and many will begin work this week. Up to 500 more recruits are expected to be hired by mid-November. Over 200 will be onboarded for Toronto and 150 for Ottawa, both considered COVID-19 hotspots.

The new hires are part of the government’s fall COVID-19 planning and are included in the $1.37 billion funding dedicated to expand testing and contact tracing in the province.

Premier Ford said thanks to the contact tracers already on board, they have managed to reach “cases and contacts faster, with 30 public health units reaching 90 per cent of cases within 24 hours.”

In addition, the province says public service staff have been volunteering for redeployment to provide support for contact tracing this fall and winter. Over 600 Statistics Canada employees have been assisting with contact follow-up since July.

There are currently over 2,750 case and contact management staff across all public health units in the province. With the 600 new recruits and 600 Statistics Canada staff, the total will soon be nearly 4,000.

Canadians divided over mandatory COVID-19 vaccines, priority inoculations

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

Canadians appear to be turning against mandatory COVID-19 inoculations whenever a vaccine becomes available, with a new poll suggesting the number of people opposed to the idea is growing.

The poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies is the latest to take the public’s temperature during the COVID-19 pandemic, and comes as governments and scientists around the world are scrambling to find a vaccine.

The federal government has also inked a number of agreements with pharmaceutical companies to purchase millions of doses of their vaccine candidates if they prove safe and effective, over fears of a global rush for the drugs.

While the majority of respondents in earlier polls had said they were in favour of the government’s requiring people get inoculated once a vaccine is discovered, the new poll found that was no longer the case.

Only 39 per cent of respondents said getting a vaccine should be mandatory, a decline of 18 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in July and more than 20 points lower than in May.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents instead said a vaccine should be voluntary, an 11 percentage-point increase from July and 15 since May. Six per cent of respondents said they did not know.

The online poll was conducted Oct. 9 to 11 and surveyed 1,539 adult Canadians. It cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.

Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque was puzzled by the change, particularly since the percentage of respondents who said they would get a free vaccine as soon as it becomes available remains relatively high.

Sixty-three per cent said they would take up such an offer, seven points lower than in July. Another 17 per cent said they would not, which was up three points, while 20 per cent did not know.

“So some people who said they would get it would not make it mandatory,” Bourque said. “In other words, it should be like any other flu vaccine, which is voluntary.”

The poll does not provide an explanation for the decline in support for mandatory vaccinations, but a Statistics Canada survey in August found some Canadians are worried about the safety and possible side effects of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“A lot of the media attention has been around whether it will be reliable, is it coming out too early?” Bourque said. “But if they were worried it’s not safe and should not be made mandatory, why do two out of three Canadians say they’ll get it?”

The federal government and public-health officials have insisted that while they have cut red tape to speed approval of a new COVID-19 vaccine, they will not cut corners when it comes to safety requirements.

The poll showed even sharper division over whether Canadians should be able to pay to get a vaccine faster, with 37 per cent agreeing with the idea, 50 per cent opposing and 13 per cent unsure either way.

That comes at a time when Health Canada has said it is investigating reports some private clinics are offering COVID-19 tests for a fee for people who don’t want to wait for appointments with local health authorities.

It also comes as only 59 per cent of respondents said they would probably get a free flu vaccine this year despite public-health authorities encouraging everyone to do so. Thirty-six per cent said they did probably would not get inoculated for the flu.

Despite any misgivings about a COVID-19 vaccine, there was fairly broad support for making inoculations available to certain priority groups such as health-care workers, seniors and workers in long-term care facilities whenever they become available.

3rd person dies in hospital following deadly Mississauga car crash

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

Peel police say a third person has died following a deadly two-car collision on a Mississauga roadway last week.

On Oct. 8th at around 7 p.m., Peel police said they were called to McLaughlin Road near Highway 407 for a report of a vehicle collision between a silver Honda Civic and a red Mercedes-Benz.

“The Honda Civic was operated by a 21-year-old man from Brampton and had a 23-year-old woman and a 19-year-old woman as passengers,” police said in a news release. “The 19-year-old woman was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

Police said the Mercedes-Benz was being driven by a 66-year-old Brampton man.

According to police, there were four people passengers in the vehicle: a 39-year-old woman, a 38-year-old man, a 64-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman.

“The 64-year-old woman was pronounced deceased at the scene,” police said. “All other occupants were taken to the hospital.”

This past Saturday, one of the passengers that had been in the Mercedes-Benz, a 64-year-old man, died in hospital, police said.

Police said they are still investigating the cause of the crash. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Peel police’s Major Collision Bureau. Tips can also be left anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

 

Man claims he was sexually assaulted by former principal of St. Michael’s College School

ADRIAN GHOBRIAL, JESSICA BRUNO AND MEREDITH BOND | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

CAUTION: This story contains graphic content related to allegations of sexual assault and might be upsetting to some readers.

If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence, you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. 

Peter Luci loaded his father’s shotgun into the trunk of his car, drove to St. Michael’s College School, and sat in the parking lot.

His eyes fixed on the front door, he was waiting to kill Father Leo Campbell.

“He looks like a regular person, but he’s not,” says Luci. “He’s a monster. He’s a predator. He really, really is. And he’s wearing the cloth of God.”

What spurred Luci to drive to St. Michael’s was years of sexual assault he tells CityNews he endured at Fr. Campbell’s hand, while Luci was a high school student in the early 1980s.

“He taught me how to give him a blow job… I didn’t know anything about this, I was a child,” Luci reveals. “When I think about it you know, smells come back to me, and textures.”

“It’s really important for me to talk about this, for myself and for others.”

For the last year, CityNews has been investigating reports of sexual assault by Fr. Campbell and other members of an order of Catholic priests, known as the Basilians, whose headquarters are in Toronto. We will be telling their stories in a multi-part series, online and in broadcast, beginning today. The order’s calling is to teach, and they operate or staff schools and universities across Canada and into the United States and South America.

Father Leo Campbell became a member of the Congregation of St. Basil in 1965, and a fully ordained priest in 1973. He worked as a teacher or principal at multiple schools then run by the Basilians, including Michael Power, St. Basil the Great, and St. Michael’s College School in Toronto.

In 1980, Peter Luci and his brother moved from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie, to live with relatives after his family had fallen on difficult times. Peter was 15, and he started grade nine at St. Mary’s College, a high school run by the Basilians.

“My father was in Italy, my mother was in Toronto, we were in the Sault. It was a tough time, especially for a kid,” Luci says. Campell was at St. Mary’s, teaching English and theology. When the priest started paying special attention to him, he was initially pleased.

“When I went to the school, he knew my situation,” Luci says. “He knew my parents weren’t there. He was aware of all this information. And I was vulnerable, and I was looking for it. […] Looking back, he was grooming me from the very beginning.”

Luci played basketball, and Fr. Campbell was a coach. He alleges that it was in the St. Mary’s gym that Fr. Campbell first assaulted him.

“The first time, he actually, we were just doing the same thing, giving me a hug [and he said] ‘Don’t worry your parents will be back soon, your father will be back soon.’”

From there, he alleges Fr. Campbell put him down on his lap while the priest’s penis was out. Luci says Fr. Campbell also tried to get him to perform oral sex, but he refused. He then brought him into his office, where Luci alleges Fr. Campbell took off his pants, took Luci’s hand and put it on his penis, forcing him to stroke it until Fr. Campbell ejaculated.

“He actually came all over my arm. I didn’t know what to do or how to react,” Luci says. “Went to wash myself off, and I went home. And I didn’t say anything to anyone. I kept it to myself.”

Luci says the abuse continued to escalate, alleging Fr. Campbell would force him to give him blowjobs. “It was in sections and in increments,” he says. “It was all, looking back, planned. He didn’t go too fast, he didn’t force me immediately.”

Luci alleges Fr. Campbell first raped him while on a camping trip with three other boys.

“I was frozen in fear. Not able to act or move. It was horrible.”

He says Fr. Campbell came into his small four-man tent at night and began to spoon him before forcefully inserting his penis into Luci’s anus. Another boy was in the tent at the time, Luci says.

Luci say, “I was frozen in fear. Not able to act or move. It was horrible.”

While he never told anyone about the abuse, Luci says one time after he was raped by Fr. Campbell, he began bleeding from his anus.

He said he was in so much pain, he begged his aunt and uncle to take him to the doctor. He says it was his cry for help. He was examined by a doctor, but no connection was ever made, and he was sent home.

“It was my one attempt at trying to get help,” explains Luci. “It’s just so devastating. These are the people that are supposed to protect you.”

Luci alleges Fr. Campbell abused him at least two dozen times over the two years he was at the school. It stopped when Luci left Sault Ste. Marie.

Prior allegations against priest

The Basilians knew of Fr. Campbell’s “pedophilic tendencies” before the priest ever met Luci, yet they still allowed him to teach at St. Mary’s and other institutions, records obtained by CityNews show.

In the summer before he moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Fr. Campbell admitted to sexually touching a minor. He told a therapist about an incident, which he said had happened years before, while he was being evaluated at Southdown Treatment Centre.

Southdown is a Catholic-run inpatient treatment facility north of Toronto that specializes in treating men and women in ministry. Fr. Campbell checked in for a 10-day assessment after allegations surfaced that he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old. Fr. Campbell acknowledged the incident but told his therapist that it was the boy who initiated touching.

This is not the only known allegation against Fr. Campbell from this time. Tomorrow, CityNews will bring you the story of a whistleblower who says he brought children’s complaints to the Basilians.

“He will have to be cautious in his expression of affection for his students. […] there would be no reason to dissuade him from undertaking his teaching post in the fall.”

Fr. Campbell’s therapist would report back to the Basilians, recommending that he check in for a three-month stay at the facility, and undergo regular counselling to better understand his own sexuality. On the matter of Fr. Campbell’s teaching, the therapist tells the Basilians: “He will have to be cautious in his expression of affection for his students. […] there would be no reason to dissuade him from undertaking his teaching post in the fall.”

CityNews reached out to the Basilians multiple times, asking for an on-the-record interview with their senior priest. Our requests were denied. Eventually, we sent a detailed list of questions for an official response. The order declined to answer questions about specific individuals or events, but their lawyer did forward a statement on some of our questions about policy and the history of the Church’s understanding of sex abuse.

“There has never been any doubt or misunderstanding that sexual abuse of a child is, and always has been, wrong,” the Basilians write. “Where there has been historical misunderstanding by professionals, the Basilians included, is with respect to the impact of sexual abuse upon a child.”

Full response from the Basi… by CityNewsToronto

The statement says a historical lack of understanding of paraphilias, such as an attraction to children, contributed to the thinking that sex abuse “was a moral failing, and could be addressed by deeper spiritual focus and commitment.”

“Treatment providers often treated those against whom allegations of sexual abuse had been made and, believing them to be cured, cleared them to return to work.”

From priest to principal

Fr. Campbell would remain at St. Mary’s until 1988. In those years, he became athletic director and then principal, taking over from his predecessor, Basilian Father William Hod Marshall. Marshall would later confess and serve time in prison for sexually assaulting 17 children. Fr. Campbell would also continue to be a director of the Basilian-run Columbus Boys Camp, and to run dozens of other students’ retreats for schools in Ontario and Eastern Canada.

After eight years in the Sault, the Basilians asked Fr. Campbell to move back to Toronto and become principal at St. Michael’s College School. He was in that job until he was suspended in spring 1992, when another historic abuse allegation came to light.

CityNews reached out to St. Michael’s, asking for an interview with Fr. Andrew Leung, the Basilian priest who is president of the school. The school declined an on-camera interview, but said to their knowledge, Basilian headquarters did not inform those in charge at St. Michael’s at the time about any allegations against Fr. Campbell.

Following the most recent allegations, Fr. Campbell once again checked into Southdown. This time he received a formal diagnosis of ephebophilia – a sexual attraction to teenagers.

“It seems clear that within the past six months, even up to a few weeks ago, that Leo experiences sexual arousal or feelings of sexual pleasure, sexual ideation or urges by looking at certain young boys from ages 10 or 11 up to 18,” his therapist wrote in a report to the Basilians. “Leo should have no unsupervised contact with early teen-age boys.”

Fr. Campbell stayed at Southdown receiving treatment for several months, and he would never return as principal to St. Mike’s. However, in 1998 he would return to the prestigious boys’ school to teach religion and be tasked with the spiritual guidance of students as Head of Chaplaincy.

That put a fragile Peter Luci over the edge.

A victim’s confrontation

While Fr. Campbell continued teaching and ministering, Luci had issues with substance abuse, gambling and severe depression. He also estimates he attempted suicide at least 10 times.

“I just wanted to go to sleep and not have to deal with it anymore. I lost everything. I lost myself,” he says. “I had no self-worth. I thought that what he did, I deserved. It wouldn’t happen to a child if that child was worth anything.”

While he can’t recall the exact date, Luci said when he found out Fr. Campbell was working at St. Mike’s, he felt extreme guilt the man who caused him so much pain was still around children.

In a moment of rage, he drove to St. Michael’s College with his father’s shotgun, a disguise and a change of clothes. Gripping his steering wheel, he waited outside for Fr. Campbell to emerge. He never did, and after four hours, Luci restrained himself and drove away.

“The hate just boiled over. I couldn’t control myself.”

“If he’d have walked out, I would have shot him. I would have ruined my life. And I would have regretted it for the rest of my life,” he says. “The hate just boiled over. I couldn’t control myself … and I reacted and thank goodness, like I said, it didn’t come to pass.”

For Luci, the situation came to a head yet again around 2004. At a friend’s wedding he came face to face with Fr. Campbell, who was witnessing the ceremony. During the reception, he says he confronted the priest after seeing him surrounded by children. “I said, ‘Do you remember me?’ and you know, he just, he knew who I was … He knew it and he was just cowering. And he backed off.”

The pain of surviving

This encounter pushed Luci to finally tell his then-wife what happened to him decades earlier. The abuse had been affecting his marriage, not just through Luci’s addictions, but in his difficulty being intimate with his partner.

She encouraged him to seek therapy. He went to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and saw multiple therapists before being referred to psychotherapist Lynne MacDonell, who specializes in men who have survived sexual abuse. He also joined a weekly men’s support group for childhood sexual assault survivors.

On Luci’s behalf, in January 2008, MacDonell emailed his allegations about Fr. Campbell to Basilian Vicar General Fr. Gordon Judd, who was then-case manager for abuse complaints. Judd responded, saying the Basilians were very concerned with victims of abuse, and proposed times to speak about the situation.

“He obviously was very emotional and frightened. But by the end of the interview, he had calmed and said that he found it freeing to finally tell his story.”

Judd asked another Basilian, Fr. William Alden “Bill” Riegel, the order’s Promoter of Justice, to conduct an investigation and meet with Luci to hear the details of his allegations. In his report, Reigel said he found Luci’s story “to be very straight-forward and intelligible.

“He obviously was very emotional and frightened. But by the end of the interview, he had calmed and said that he found it freeing to finally tell his story.”

Reigel also interviewed Fr. Campbell, who said he didn’t remember Luci, but did recall the other boys on the camping trip. Reigel reported that at the end of the interview, Fr. Campbell appeared depressed and concerned about his future as a priest.

Reigel concluded that he found Luci’s story credible, and that “obviously he has suffered trauma that still affects him in a significant way.” On Feb. 11, he submitted his report to the Basilians, recommending they pay for six months of counselling (which they later do).

Three days later, on Valentine’s Day 2008, Fr. Campbell died suddenly from unknown causes at the age of 68. His funeral was held at Holy Rosary Church, down the road from St. Michael’s College School, which established a bursary in his name.

In his obituary posted in the Basilian Newsletter, Campbell is remembered as a priest who “had a special ability to reach out to the disenfranchised and alienated.”

Suing the Basilians

In September 2009, Luci sued the Basilians and Fr. Campbell’s estate. They settled in 2015 for $250,000. The settlement states that the agreement is not an admission of liability from the Basilians.

“I didn’t care about the money. I wanted them to say sorry I wanted them to take responsibility, I wanted them to make changes,” says Luci.

Following multiple suicide attempts and drug addiction, Luci says he has been sober for more than three years. He believes Fr. Campbell has more alleged victims and encourages them to come forward.

“I know it’s a difficult, a very difficult thing, but get some help,” he advises. “The only way you’re going to get any kind of peace and tranquility in your life is if you let go of this and come forward.”

If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence, you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. 

CityNews has created a Facebook group to give survivors of child sexual assault a safe place for them to know they’re not alone.

This is a confidential space in hopes that those who’ve been abused by a Basilian Father or a priest from any Catholic order may want to share their story, either anonymously or with their name.

You can request to join here.

5 arrested after shots fired at downtown condo believed to be short-term rental

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Oct 14th, 2020

Five suspects have been arrested after police say shots were fired through the wall of a condo into an adjacent unit in a downtown building.

Officers were called to the condo building at 12 York street at the intersection of York Street and Bremner Boulevard shortly before 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Police say two shots were fired and they recovered two bullets and a gun. No injuries were reported.

Canadian Press journalist Lucas Timmons says he found bullet holes through a picture frame and through his drier after he was woken up by loud sounds

Timmons says he believes the shots came from a unit that is used as a short-term rental.

Police say the names of the suspects will not be released at this time to avoid compromising the investigation.

Councillor for Spadina-Fort York Joe Cressy says he’s relieved no one was hurt.

“Unmanaged ‘ghost hotels’ in short-term rentals are a detriment to our safety, quality of life, and affordable housing in too many downtown residential buildings like 12 York,” he said in a statement.

City council recently approved new regulations for short-term rentals including a ban on “ghost hotel” operations. The bylaw only permits short-term rentals — less than 28 consecutive days — in principal residences and homeowners must register with the city to do so.

Cressy said these bylaws are currently in the process of being implemented.

“I will continue to advocate for them to be proactively enforced, with an extra focus on buildings that have a high volume of serious complaints,” he said.

He also called on short-term rental companies to remove Toronto listings that do not comply with the bylaw from their platforms.

“They can and should do this now. In light of these serious incidents, there is no justification for the delay,”

High school apologizes, police investigating after racist messages printed in yearbook

FAIZA AMIN AND TODD HAYES | posted Tuesday, Oct 13th, 2020

A Durham Catholic high school is apologizing and launching a police investigation after a student’s tribute to his grandmother was replaced with racist messages in the school’s yearbook.

Joshua Telemaque, a student at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School in Pickering, wanted to honour his grandmother who had recently passed away.

He submitted a touching tribute to her that was to appear under his photo and name in the school’s yearbook. He originally wrote “RIP Grandma. Thank you for guiding me through my four years of high school.” But instead, in the yearbook editions that were handed out to students on Saturday, the passage read, “RIP Harambe Dooga booga.O.”

Harambe was a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo that was shot and killed after a child climbed into the enclosure and was grabbed by the animal. Needless to say the student and his family were devastated when they saw the yearbook.

In a press conference late this afternoon in front of the school with his family behind him, Joshua said he was crushed that someone would replace what he wrote with something so racist.

“It’s hurting me, I’m in shock,” he said adding that he has been breaking down. “I haven’t been myself, it’s devastating. I’m holding back tears, it hurts a lot. As a black man, it’s very degrading.”

In a letter posted online, the principal at St. Mary Catholic Secondary School apologized for the “offensive, hurtful” comments.

“We are horrified to discover that inappropriate comments were unknowingly published in the 2019-2020 edition,” Susan Duane wrote in the letter. “These comments were malicious, hurtful and racist in nature.”

CityNews reached out to the Durham Catholic District School Board for an interview, but one was not granted. Instead, a spokesperson pointed to another statement made by the board’s Education Director.

“I am deeply saddened by what has happened and extend my personal apologies to the individuals who have been harmed by the racist and malicious comments made,” wrote Tracy Barill. “We will work with the school not only to ensure that the incident is fully investigated but also to support students and the community in rectifying the harm that has been done.”

Duane adds that the school has launched a formal investigation with Durham Regional Police to “ensure that all individuals responsible are held accountable.”

Horrified to discover that the racist comments were unknowingly published, Joshua’s mother said it simply isn’t acceptable.

“I just think it should have been looked over before it was printed,” said Marva Massicot-Telemaque. “I hope the school’s investigation will find out what happened and the school board will take a serious look at how they deal with complaints of bullying and protecting my son.”

The principal is asking all students to return their yearbooks to the school on Tuesday, adding that inventory will be conducted to account for each copy.

Despite the pain, Joshua is thanking the thousands around the world who have sent well wishes, saying his grandmother continues to guide him in this painful time.

“She’s my guardian angel,” he said. “I know she’s watching down on me, every day. I want to show her that I’m living my life through her.”

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