Ottawa priest found guilty of indecent assault

CTV News, Canada/April 19, 2011

A now elderly Ottawa priest who taught at St. Pius X High School in the 1970s was convicted Tuesday of indecent assault against two brothers.

Father William Allen, also known as Father Bill, was sentenced Tuesday for indecent assault related to sexual offences that occurred between 1970 and 1976.

One victim - who can't be named - was assaulted weekly after choir practice at St. Monica's Church in Nepean; the other was assaulted at the high school.

In court, one of the victims told the priest to 'rot in hell.'

Allen, who is now in a wheelchair, originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, when the Crown presented its facts in court, he did not contest them.

Allen was handed a nine-month conditional sentence, including four and a half months of house arrest.

Crown prosecutor Meaghan Cunningham told CTV Ottawa she would have asked for significant jail time if it weren't for Allen's advanced age and frail health.

Allen, who is now in his 80s, was ordained to the priesthood in 1955. Over the years, he served at several Ottawa churches and taught at St. Pius X High School. A high school yearbook from the 1970s regards him as the "friendly friar."

Ottawa police began investigating the case in March 2010 after a victim came forward to report incidents involving a Catholic priest. Allen was charged with indecent assault last July.

Allen withdrew from active ministry several years ago, and the Church suspended him after he was charged last summer. He was also prohibited from representing himself as a Catholic priest.

Ottawa's Archbishop said Tuesday he wants to assure people that the Church is committed to preventing incidents of abuse.

"Our diocese is committed to creating a safe environment in the Church for minors and other vulnerable persons. We are also committed to a process of justice and reconciliation for the victims of clergy abuse," Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said in a statement.

Prendergast says Allen remains suspended and the diocese will consider whether further disciplinary action is necessary.

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