By Gary Kean
The Western Star— Corner Brook
Noting that George Ansel Smith committed more sexual crimes against more victims than anyone involved in the infamous Mount Cashel orphanage abuse scandal, Justice William Goodridge gave the retired Roman Catholic priest 11 years in prison Thursday morning.
Smith, 75, had pleaded guilty to a total of 41 charges of sexual assault, indecent assault and assault, but Goodridge entered stays on three of the charges after hearing an agreed statement of facts in late February.
Thirteen victims came forward with their complaints of abuse at the hands of Smith. The offences occurred over a nearly 20-year period from 1969 to 1989 in several western Newfoundland communities including Corner Brook, St. Fintan’s, Stephenville, Cape St. George, Deer Lake and Port Saunders. Some of the assaults happened while Smith was escorting boys on trips to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
In many cases, Smith groomed his victims and plied them with alcohol and gifts before assaulting them. Several of the boys were assaulted repeatedly for years.
Crown attorney Trina Simms had asked Goodridge to sentence Smith to between nine and 13 years in prison, given the number of young victims and the duration of his abusive behaviour, while defence lawyer Tom Williams argued that Smith should be given seven to nine years, minus a little more than one year he has already served in custody.
Smith will get credit for time served, reducing the time he has left on his sentence to nine years and 347 days.
Outside the court room, one victim said 11 years was what he had hoped Smith would get.
Simms said the Crown was also satisfied that the sentence was within the range it had asked for.
Williams said his remorseful client had expected such a lengthy sentence and was prepared to accept his punishment.