Priest found guilty of sexual assault defrocked by Montreal archdiocese

·3 min read

Brian Boucher is no longer a priest.

Boucher was sentenced to eight years in prison last March for sexually abusing two boys when he worked as a priest in LaSalle in the 1990s and the Town of Mount Royal, around 2010.

The news of Boucher's laicization came as a great relief to parishioner Kurt Reckziegel, who attends Our Lady of the Annunciation church in TMR.

"I'm glad to see it's happened," said Reckziegel. "It doesn't help the victims of the past, but maybe it will save some young people in the future."

Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine formally dismissed Boucher from the clerical state last year, but the decision was subject to appeal. No appeal was filed this summer, so the decision stands.

Erika Jacinto, a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal, said from the moment of Boucher's dismissal, all financial support to him stopped.

He cannot exercise any priestly function or occupy any office reserved for clerics.

He is also prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools and institutions, and cannot participate as a lector or assist a priest in administering communion.

Boucher is the only diocesan priest in the history of the Archdiocese of Montreal to be sanctioned in this way, said Jacinto.

CBC
CBC

External review will be made public next month

Last November, the archdiocese hired Pepita G. Capriolo, a former Quebec Superior Court justice, to get to the bottom of how complaints and concerns about Boucher were handled.

Boucher worked in 10 Montreal-area churches between 1985 and 2015.

CBC Montreal has reported extensively about complaints from parishioners about Boucher dating back to the mid-1980s, before he began studying for the priesthood.

The external review was supposed to be completed last spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it. Capriolo presented her findings to Archbishop Lépine at the beginning of September. The findings and recommendations will be released to the public at the end of next month.

Reckziegel and several other parishioners who spoke to CBC Montreal on the condition of anonymity, are eager to see what Capriolo discovered.

"My hope is that this doesn't ever happen again in any parish, any jurisdiction," said Reckziegel, who hopes it will encourage the Archdiocese of Montreal to change its ways going forward.

"They have to be open, and hopefully with some of that openness about the situation, they are able to stop any further abuse of children and young adults in the future," he said.

Broader external audit

Shortly after Boucher's sentencing last year, one of his victims became the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal.

The suit is seeking compensation for anyone who may have been sexually assaulted by a Montreal priest or church staff member since 1940.

Lawyer Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, said negotiations in the lawsuit are still ongoing, but she was pleased to hear the news about Boucher today.

CBC
CBC

"It's really important the church doesn't protect people who are convicted of the sexual assault of minors," Dufresne-Lemire said.

She too was also looking forward to seeing Capriolo's findings, but said a broader audit is still needed.

Last year, the Archdiocese of Montreal had planned a statistical audit of its archives dating back 70 years, looking into other priests who may have abused children.

Retired Superior Court Justice Anne-Marie Trahan was appointed to do the external audit last year, but she died in the summer of 2019.

Once the Capriolo report is released, Jacinto said it will be a priority.

In the last 10 years, Dufresne-Lemire says more victims are speaking up about the abuse they suffered, but it's still a source of shame.

"Many of the victims thought they were the only ones being abused," she said. "People want answers. How come we let this go so far? How come there so many victims of sexual abuse by priests? It's really important. It's an event we need to understand to make sure it doesn't happen again. I think we owe it to the victims to shed light on these shameful events."