Priest left legacy of pain

The Windsor Star, Canada/July 23, 2011

Some will remember him as the pedophile priest who "opened the floodgates" of clergy abuse in North America.

Barry Glendinning, 77, a former priest defrocked for his years of abuse against minors, died July 14 in Toronto.

John Swales, one of Glendinning's many victims, said the death leaves him with conflicting emotions of love, sadness and anger for the man who forever changed his life.

"He's dead; what happens from here I'm not quite sure," said Swales, 52, one of the first sex abuse victims in North America to go public. "Higher powers will deal with that stuff. But his many, many victims will carry this. The Glendinning saga will continue until all of his victims are dead. We're going to take this to our own graves."

Glendinning was born Oct. 27, 1933. He entered St. Peter's Seminary in London in September 1957 and was ordained May 21, 1964. His first assignment a month later was as assistant pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Windsor. It was there that he met Richard Corbett, his first known victim.

In June 1965 he was transferred to Windsor's Holy Name parish, before being shipped to the Vatican. He returned in June 1967 to be a professor at St. Peter's. In 1974, he was convicted of six counts of gross indecency against five boys and one girl, though it's believed he had many more victims there.

He was placed on probation and shipped to St. Clare parish in Windsor. Two boys would later tell the head priest that "Father Barry acts queer when he drinks."

Glendinning spent the next couple of decades being quietly shuffled from church to church each time someone would complain about him.

He was even shipped to Alberta, where it's believed he sexually assaulted at least 15 boys before he was moved again to Toronto.

Swales said Glendinning was more than just a pedophile priest. He was also the subject of perhaps the first sex assault civil case, which the London diocese lost, that broke open North America's priest abuse scandal.

"The man who opened the floodgates of clergy abuse," said Swales, who launched that lawsuit with his brothers. "This is before Boston, this is before Ireland. There was smatterings of it happening but not the way it is today. In contemporary times, Glendinning was the case that opened the floodgates."

Swales met Glendinning at age 10. He said he was an "awestruck" by the charismatic priest.

"My first emotional physical encounter with a human being was with Father Barry Donald Glendinning. It's sad. The whole damn thing is sad."

He said Glendinning was an "intimate" part of his life, though he hadn't seen him in years.

"I'm sad," said Swales. "I loved the man. If a father abuses a child, there's still love there. It's complicated."

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