A retired Ottawa priest, who has admitted he suffered from a powerful attraction to adolescents as a young cleric, appeared in court Friday on historical sexual assault charges.
Rev. Barry McGrory, 82, faces two counts of gross indecency and two counts of indecent assault in connection with offences alleged to have occurred in the late 1960s. The charges are based on the Criminal Code as it existed at that time.
McGrory, who now lives in Toronto, was released on a $10,000 bond and ordered not to communicate with the victim, or take work that would put him in a position of trust with anyone under the age of 16.
His case was remanded to December.
Outside court, McGrory, dressed in a blue blazer and grey pants, refused to tell reporters how he intended to plead in the case, saying: “It’s none of your business.”
Ottawa police said Friday investigators are concerned there could be more potential victims out there.
The man newly alleging he was victimized by McGrory was 15 years old at the time of the alleged crimes. He lodged a complaint with Ottawa police in September — three months after the Citizen revealed the story of McGrory’s disturbing sexual misdeeds while pastor of the Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s and 80s.
The new charges against McGrory stem from incidents alleged to have happened before the four sex-abuse cases described by this newspaper.
Colleen Passard, who was a young teen when she was manipulated and abused by McGrory in the mid-70s, said Friday the historic nature of the charges suggest that church officials might have prevented “lifelong trauma” had they only acted in his case.
“As I’ve said all along, the Catholic diocese has been aware since (McGrory) was a seminarian that he had psycho-sexual issues,” she said. “If they had acted it the first place, it would have saved so much pain and suffering.”
Passard said she was relieved that McGrory will finally have to face a judge. None of the allegations McGrory was charged with Friday has been proven in court.
In the late 1960s, McGrory was working at the Major Seminary of Ottawa and at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish on Alta Vista Drive.
In 1974, he was named pastor of the Holy Cross Parish, where he became a high-profile peace and social justice activist. He remained at the church until 1986.
Earlier this year, he admitted in an interview that he was then a sex addict and abused three young parishioners at the Holy Cross. He said then-archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde knew he had sexual problems but did not send him for treatment despite his pleas.
McGrory was moved out of town, appointed president of an organization that aided remote Catholic missions in Canada.
Four years later, in 1991, McGrory was charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old indigenous boy. He was convicted of that crime and handed a suspended sentence and three years’ probation.
The Archdiocese of Ottawa subsequently settled out of court with two of McGrory’s victims at Holy Cross. One of them was paid $300,000 in one of the largest clergy sex-abuse settlements negotiated by the diocese. Another Ottawa victim is now suing for $1.5 million.
McGrory previously told the Citizen that, as a young priest, he suffered from a sexual disorder from which he has since been cured. “There was this terrible dark side that I had to confront — and I just didn’t handle it well,” he said at the time.
McGrory said he was healed of his sex addiction and his attraction to adolescents after “surrendering” himself to God following the humiliation of his 1991 arrest. In Toronto, he belongs to a group called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, which employs a 12-step program similar to that pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous. It has helped him, he said, remain celibate for more than two decades.
Other possible victims of the priest have already contacted police. In late July, four people wrote to Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau through their lawyer, Rob Talach, alleging they had been victimized by McGrory. They all volunteered evidence against him.
“I can put an officer in contact with all four of these alleged victims, or alternatively, I can direct them to contact a specific assigned officer,” Talach wrote in the letter, obtained by the Citizen. “All we require is some guidance on how to get their evidence into the hands of police.”
However, for reasons that are not yet clear, neither Talach nor any of the four were contacted by investigators.
One of those people, an Ottawa woman who has asked to remain anonymous, said she has “waited a long time” to face McGrory in court. “I’m ready to go forward,” she said Friday.
The Archdiocese of Ottawa said in a news release it was “deeply saddened” by McGrory’s arrest and would co-operate fully with any ongoing investigation. A diocesan spokesman, Deacon Gilles Ouellette, noted that McGrory’s right to present himself as a Catholic priest was removed more than 20 years ago.
McGrory remains an official member of the priesthood, however, and has never been defrocked by the Vatican.
Ottawa born and raised, McGrory holds a PhD in theology from Thomas Aquinas University in Rome.