'Give me a polygraph'

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Accuser angry about Father Dohey's discharge

Father Wayne Dohey's accuser is angry about the dismissal of charges against the Roman Catholic priest.

Dohey was charged with one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation, for incidents that allegedly happened between 1996 and 2000. He was placed on administrative duties until the case had been tried.

I actually interviewed the victim, who I will call Justine (her identity is protected by court order) in May of this year. During our 90-minute interview, I found her to be credible and believable. So did a reporter with the CBC, the Marystown RCMP and the Crown prosecutor.

However, the judge did not find her as credible. And because there is a ban on the publication of evidence related to the trial, I cannot tell you a lot more than that. However, I can talk about some of the fundamental points in Judge Harold Porter's decision.

And frankly, there is cause for concern.

According to the Library of Parliament, Canada's legal age of consent to sexual activity is 14 years, which is when Justine alleges the abuse began. However, the law "also makes it an offence for an adult to have any such contact with boys and girls over 14 but under 18, where a relationship of trust or authority exists between the adult and child."

Outside of the usual authority that comes with being a priest in a small community, which is substantial in itself, Justine alleges that there was a relationship of trust and authority between her and Dohey. She says she was assigned to the Catholic Church in Marystown, after being sentenced to community service for drinking under age, and placed in the supervision of Father Dohey. However, the judge did not view this as a position of trust.

"Here, while the accused was the clergy for the complainant's mother, he was not in a priest-penitent relationship with the complainant," the judge writes in his decision.

However, Justine feels it was "quite obvious" that she was in a relationship of trust with Dohey.

"Not that I should have to explain this, but I had been going to this church for years before this, even before Wayne came to Marystown. There are cases where people go to a different faith church and never change religions. Does this mean the priest/pastor etc. is not really theirs?

"He (the judge) must have forgotten the fact that the reason I was in the presence alone with Wayne to begin with was because he was my mentor/supervisor' when I had been assigned to do community service. Is this not a position of authority/trust? Judge Porter did not acknowledge Father Dohey's position of trust and authority at any point in his decision."

"(Judge) Porter stated that I gave no evidence of lack of consent... the evidence is that I was a scared, intimidated, impressionable 14 year old and he was a Roman Catholic priest and the adult in this situation."

This issue of consent is just part of the decision, of course. The judge also maintains that Justine's testimony is contradictory and unreliable a contention that Justine finds astonishing. In fact, she has written a five-page letter that rebuts, with anger and indignation, all of the reasons behind the judge's decision. However, I cannot reproduce much of it because it relates to evidence that is banned from publication.

Having worked at The Sunday Express when we broke the Mount Cashel scandal, I will say this: I do not agree with the judge's view that certain alleged behaviors of the accused are "difficult to believe". I found them to be quite believable and within the realm of possibility, even for a priest.

As well, the judge places considerable emphasis on the fact that Justine denied the assaults when approached by the police some years earlier, in response to rumours' they had heard.

"Anyone who is educated in the area of sexual assault/abuse is familiar with the pressure, fear and embarrassment victims and their families experience at the thought of the abuse being exposed," Justine says. "A prime example of this are the many victims of Mount Cashel. Many of them waited years and years before exposing their abusers some never do. It is something that one has to prepare for, psychologically. It is very troublesome to know that judge Porter does not acknowledge the psychological aspects of this case."

The judge also states that no one reported the situation to police, though Justine challenges this view.

"My father consulted a lawyer in Marystown regarding his obligation to report it and was told because I was 18 years old, there was really nothing he could do unless I chose to do it myself.

"I had to visit my family doctor and explain this to him in order to get my exams deferred. He said the same thing. If you were not 18, I would have to report this to the police.'

"If this was so important... WHY DIDN'T THE BISHOP REPORT IT WHEN HE FOUND OUT? He stated on the news that he was not obligated because I was 18 when I approached them."

Justine alleges that there are numerous inconsistencies between her testimony and the judge's apparent understanding of the facts.

"It's funny how, of all the people that I have told this to in detail, (Judge) Porter is the only one that doesn't believe it. The (investigating) police (officer) told me he has never had so much strong evidence in a case, all the testimonys are like a book, all the same. (Corporal) Hall said that every statement I gave which was three to three different officers were exactly the same. Give me a polygraph test!"

According to Justine, the Crown Prosecutor told her and her family that the issue of an appeal will be addressed within two weeks of the judge's decision.

As for Father Dohey, the Archdiocese says he will remain on leave pending a review of the judge's decision. However, as the judge said, Dohey is now "free to go on about his business."

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Recent comments

  • Frank
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Hello Geoff,
    Has anyone in the media asked the Crown whether it can or will seek a preferred indictment in this case? A judge's ruling in a preliminary hearing need not be the end of it. In some cases, the Crown can seek a preferred indictment from the Justice minister, meaning they could possibly to to trial even if a judge discharges an accused person in preliminary trial.