Retired Quebec judge says he believes sexual abuse allegations against former Nunavut priest

— Canadian Oblates commissioned Andre Denis to investigate handling of allegations against Johannes Rivoire

Former Quebec Superior Court justice André Denis leads the Oblate Safeguarding Commission, an independent review of historical allegations of sexual abuse against Johannes Rivoire in present-day Nunavut.

By Emma Tranter, Tessa Vikander

A retired Quebec Superior Court judge, in a report commissioned by the Canadian Oblates, says he believes allegations made against former Nunavut priest Johannes Rivoire of sexually abusing children in the territory are true.

The report, written by Andre Denis, also suggests the Catholic church was not aware of the allegations made against Rivoire at the time because the RCMP didn’t notify them.

“Rivoire did not tell the whole truth to his superiors, to his confrères, to the Inuit for whom he had pastoral responsibility, and he himself denies a reality that has nevertheless been demonstrated,” Denis wrote in a 57-page report released Tuesday.

Denis’s report is not a legal finding of guilt. His investigation makes conclusions based on a “preponderance of evidence,” and not “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Rivoire, an Oblate priest from France, has long faced allegations he sexually abused children in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s. He spent more than 30 years working as a priest in the territory, mostly in Arviat and Naujaat.

Rivoire, who is 92 and lives in Lyon, France, and his lawyer have denied all of the allegations against him. CBC has reached out to Rivoire’s lawyer about the report, but has not received a response.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI Lacombe Canada and the Oblates of the Province of France hired Denis to investigate how past allegations against Rivoire were addressed within the congregation.

“The scandal for the plaintiffs is that Joannès Rivoire remains a religious despite all he has done. This is a reality the victims do not accept,” Denis wrote.

Tall man in black frock, in black and white.
Rev. Johannes Rivoire moved to Nunavut in the 1960s and stayed there until returning to France in 1993.

6 years before charges were laid

Denis travelled to France, Italy and Canada, including Nunavut, where he interviewed some of Rivoire’s alleged victims.

He also met at length with Rivoire, who denied the allegations but claimed he had a consenting sexual relationship with a woman in the territory.

Denis also concluded the Catholic church didn’t try to help him escape the Canadian justice system.

Three charges of sexual abuse were laid against Rivoire in 1998. They were stayed in 2017 after the Crown decided there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

A new charge was brought forward in 2022 and an arrest warrant was issued for Rivoire.

Days before the first complaint was filed with the RCMP in 1993, Rivoire fled Canada for France.

Denis says Rivoire told the church he needed to return home to take care of his elderly parents.

The RCMP finally charged Rivoire in 1998.

“The RCMP had no communication with the Oblates, nor did they notify them of anything throughout the legal process,” Denis wrote.

“Had these complaints been brought before the court in 1993, it is possible to believe that Joannès Rivoire would have returned to Nunavut to face Canadian justice. He probably could have been persuaded to do so.”

Denis says the Oblates were not informed of Rivoire’s charges until more than a decade later.

Five seated people look at the camera.
Delegates with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. speaking to media in Paris, France, in an effort to push the French government to extradite Johannes Rivoire in 2022.

Inuit survivors began speaking publicly about what they went through. A delegation also travelled to France in 2022, and asked that Rivoire return to Canada and face trial, and advocates for survivors of child sexual abuse in France also campaigned on the issue. The Oblates in both countries supported the request.

Although the priest has faced several criminal charges from the Canadian courts, France does not typically extradite people, and in October 2022, the country denied the latest request for Rivoire’s extradition.

Last month, leadership in Rome ruled against Rivoire’s dismissal from the Oblates.

‘I was angry’

Tanya Tungilik, whose late father Marius Tungilik had accused Rivoire of sexual abuse, said she had mixed feelings after reading the report.

“I was angry at a lot of parts but glad that [Denis] said that Rivoire was guilty of the crimes … that he believed us,” she said on Tuesday.

A woman wearing a blue traditional Inuit amauti
Tanya Tungilik, pictured in Rankin Inlet in 2022. Tungilik, whose late father Marius Tungilik had accused Rivoire of sexual abuse, said she believes RCMP also need to be held accountable for why Rivoire was not charged until 1998.

Tungilik said she was troubled by how long it took for the RCMP to investigate the allegations brought against Rivoire.

“Why did it take so long?” she said. “They need to be held accountable, too.”

She also said she doesn’t believe Denis’s claim that the Oblates didn’t know about the allegations made against Rivoire.

“I’m glad that it’s out there,” Tungilik said. “But I’m disappointed and angry that he says that the Oblates didn’t know at all.”

Facts hidden

Denis met with Rivoire in Lyon, France, in the spring of 2023, but explains in the report that he doesn’t believe “the version of events” that Rivoire told him.

Instead, Rivoire left Canada “hiding this terrible reality” from church authorities. He told a “true but incomplete story” that he was only returning to France to care for his sick parents.

Reflecting on meeting the Inuit delegates in 2022, Denis said Rivoire told him he thought those who were accusing him “may be trying to get money out of the Oblates.”

Denis’ research of historical documents found Rivoire “did not tell the whole truth to his superiors.”

His report quotes a 2013 conversation between Rivoire and Father Yves Chalvet de Récy, when Chalvet had just learned of the arrest warrant for Rivoire.

At that point, Rivoire is said to have told Chalvet the children he was accused of abusing “were looking for tenderness that they didn’t have in their families.”

“If I’m not innocent, the children aren’t either,” Rivoire told Chalvet.

“It’s true that I’m not innocent, but allegations of sexual assaults on minors are a fabrication. That’s why I came back to France in the first place.”

Ken Thorson, provincial lead of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe, poses for a photo.
Ken Thorson, provincial lead of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe, says he accept the report’s findings.

Rev. Ken Thorson, with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Canada, said they accept the report’s findings “with a heavy heart.”

“We wish to apologize unequivocally to anyone who was harmed by an Oblate priest and to continue taking concrete steps towards transparency and transformation, informed by guidance from victims, survivors and Inuit representatives.”

Complete Article HERE!

The End of Church Militant

By Hank Kennedy

We fighters for LGBTQ rights have to take our victories where we can get them. As state governments continue to try to take our rights away, as right-wing bigots fulminate about eliminating us from public life, as we reel in horror from the death of Nex Benedict, it’s nice to get some good news. What kind of good news? How about an anti-LGBT hate group shutting down?

In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBT hate group Church Militant is closing its doors and shutting down its website. The group had its headquarters on Hilton Street, incongruously in Detroit’s premiere Gayborhood of Ferndale. The brainchild behind Church Militant was former broadcaster Michael Voris. Voris was incensed by what he viewed as inaccuracies about Catholicism presented in the book and film the DaVinci Code. He sought to clear up misconceptions about Catholicism through the website RealCatholictv.com, later renamed Church Militant.

It appears that clearing up misconceptions about Catholicism was really a front for Voris’s true goal, spreading hatred and intolerance. Church Militant insinuated that more liberal Catholics were gay in an attempt to force them out of the church. They called composer of Catholic hymns Dan Schuette an “active homosexual,” and garnered even more publicity by calling the Archbishop of Washington D.C, a Black man, a “Marxist” and an “African Queen.” These racist and homophobic slurs were too much for the Detroit Catholic archdiocese, who wrote an official rebuke of the organization.

This rebuke did not lead to a moderation of Church Militant’s message. They promoted Holocaust denier and Trump-dinner guest Nicholas Fuentes and hosted a fawning interview with conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Within Ferndale, they attempted to get their neighbors on city council to fly their flag but wisely, the city decided against flying the flag of a hate group. In an episode that showed the group’s influence, Donald Trump’s head of the Federal Elections Commission, James E. Trainor, gave an interview to Church Militant. In his interview, Trainor called the separation of church and state “a fallacy” and declared that the 2020 presidential election was “a spiritual war.”

As to what else Church Militant did to earn their hate group designation, for one they endorsed the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy. They ran homophobic headlines like “Episcopal Sodomy: Exposing the Enablers” and “The Gay Rainbow is the Mark of the Beast.” They targeted a LGBTQ owned bakery by asking them to bake a cake with a homophobic message.

I only encountered Church Militant once, during a counter-protest in Royal Oak. They were there, along with the 11th District Republican Committee led by fellow bigot Shane Trejo, to protest a Drag Queen Story Time event at Sidetrack Books. Happily they were vastly outnumbered. An estimated two dozen protested the event but there were 1,000 joyful counter protesters. Church Militant and friends could not halt the event and had to slink away in defeat. No children were harmed by the storytime or by any bigots.

An obvious influence on the group was notorious historical resident of Metro Detroit: The Anti-Semitic “Radio Priest” Father Charles Coughlin, who broadcast in Royal Oak. Like Church Militant, Coughlin spewed hate against minority groups and theorized that foreigners and Communists were secretly controlling the United States. Coughlin’s hated minority was Jews, for Church Militant it was LGBTQ people. Also like Church Militant, Coughlin used modern media to spread his message. In the 1930s that was radio; today it is the internet. Church Militant seemed aware of the connection given that they posted an article to their website recommending Coughlin to members as a fighter against Communism and the welfare state. For obvious reasons, they avoided the swastika-covered elephant in the room of Coughlin’s Nazi sympathies.

A few months ago, Vorhis stepped down. He had admitted in a 2017 Atlantic documentary that he had “live-in relationships with homosexual men”, but that he was now no longer gay. Apparently that change did not take since he had been sending out shirtless selfies to male staffers at Church Militant, surely embarrassing behavior for such a virulently anti-LGBTQ organization. After that misfortune, the group was sued for defamation by Reverend Georges de Laire due to Church Militant publishing an article calling him unstable and vindictive. The costs of the lawsuit settlement are so great that Church Militant will have to shut down in April. When I mentioned at a vigil for Nex Benedict in Ferndale that Church Militant would no longer be in operation, there were cheers and applause.

While I may fantasize that Church Militant were driven out a pitchfork and torch-wielding mob out of a Gothic horror story, I’m glad to see them gone, regardless of what eventually shut them down. They are down for the count, regardless of who delivered the knockout blow. But, we must be ever vigilant and ready to mobilize against any groups that may try to take the place of that dark satanic mill of propaganda.

Complete Article HERE!

Banned priest Tony Flannery to break silence on fate of the Catholic Church

Fr Tony Flattery has been unable to celebrate mass publicly since his faculties were revoked in a Vatican crackdown on liberal views.

By Lorna Siggins

Banned Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery plans to question the survival of the Roman Catholic church at a public talk in Galway shortly before Easter Sunday.

Fr Flannery (77), who was suspended from public ministry by the Vatican in 2012, intends to give his views on whether “religious belief as we have known it can survive in modern Ireland”.

He also intends to pay tribute to Pope Francis for “freeing up discussion, areas of study and the search for the truth”.

The Redemptorist priest had been disciplined in 2012 for publicly expressing support for women’s ordination and same-sex marriage, and for expressing more liberal views on homosexuality.

Although he has been outspoken since his suspension and was profiled in a recent TG4 documentary, he has not given a public talk with a question and answer session in six years.

He says the talk he intends to give in the Clayton Hotel, Galway on March 27 was scheduled to be given in church property several months ago.

However, when the organisers learned that the ban imposed on him applied not only to speaking in churches but to speaking in “all church-owned property”, a new venue had to be found.

Fr Flannery says that in spite of his suspension, he has “studied and read” and has been contemplating “how best to address the falling attendances at Mass” and “the falling away in general from the Catholic faith”.

“If we take the traditional indications of the health of the faith as measured by the Catholic Church… then all the signs are that it is in serious trouble, and that the faith is in the terminal stage of ill health,” he says.

“Churches are emptying or are being frequented only by the older generation,” he says, noting that “seminaries are closing down, and priest numbers are declining rapidly”.

“There appear to be few, if any signs of new growth – but that is by no means the full story.

“We are living in a really interesting time in the [Catholic] church since the arrival of the papacy of Francis. Even in the 11 years since his appointment he has brought about a great deal of change,”he says.

“I have no doubt that the biggest legacy Pope Francis will leave from his time in charge is that he has freed up discussion, areas of study and the search for truth in the church – all of which had been seriously restricted for many centuries by rigid imposition of official teachings.

“The “pre-Francis” church had adopted the position that it had the full truth, and that it had nothing to learn from the world.

“Francis, on the other hand, realised that in order for the church to be relevant, it must engage with modern life, and be part of the debate about the future of the world and of people.”

He cites as examples of that attitude change “the extent to which Francis has engaged in the debate about the destruction of the environment and the necessity of facing up to climate change”.

Fr Flannery says all are welcome to his talk in Galway’s Clayton Hotel, Briarhill, on March 27, and will allow for a question and answer session.

Last year, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and Lay Catholic Group (LCG) called for him to be restored to the ministry and said he had experienced a “grave injustice”.

Complete Article HERE!

Right-Winger Accuses Gay Dad of “Criminal Sexual Conduct”

— José Rolón is speaking out against a right-winger’s accusation that he is sexualizing his children by exposing them to LGBTQ culture.

José Rolón (left) – Photo: TikTok. Stew Peters – Video screenshot – StewPeters.com, via Instagram

By

José Rolón, who has 150,000 followers on Instagram and over 500,000 followers on TikTok under the user name @nycgaydad, found himself bombarded with threats from right-wing users after conservative commentator Stew Peters tagged him in an Instagram video.

In the video, Peters called Rolón a “creep” and a “pervert homo,” and called for his public execution. He also accused Rolón of “criminal sexual conduct,” tagging the New York Police Department and urging them to investigate the gay widower.

“Some pervert homo has access to at least four kids around the clock all the time,” Peters said, misstating the number of Rolón’s children. “He can take them to drag conventions and then post the evidence, post pictures and videos of criminal sexual conduct … and somehow not end up in jail, or better yet, the gallows.”

The video has since been removed from the platform.

The “sexual conduct” Peters appeared to be referring to is a post in which Rolón took his children to RuPaul’s Drag Con and bought what he thought were rainbow-colored bracelets, only to realize that they were in fact cock rings.

Rolón made a video about the incident, saying he was “mortified” by his mistake. He also claimed to have spoken with the vendor, who he said tried to warn him but didn’t know how, because his children were so excited by the “bracelets.”

Peters expressed outrage that “this homosexual” takes his children to drag shows and allows them to see “cross-dressing wigs” in his closet

He aired a clip from one of Rolón’s videos, in which the children joked that they have rainbows and disco balls over their house.

Rolón was horrified by Peters’ commentary. “I just couldn’t believe the things that were coming out of his mouth,” he told The Advocate. “He tagged the NYPD and requested for them to investigate me for not only sex crimes, but also [for me to] be met at the gallows. That, to me, is the line that was [most] shocking. … This man is actually calling for my hanging in public.”

Rolón began getting threats and was deluged with negative comments accusing him of “grooming” his children by exposing his children to LGBTQ content.

In an Instagram video, he accused Peters of spreading “misinformation,” and called him a “D-list version of Tucker Carlson.” “It’s people like you that are destroying this country,” he says in the post.

Rolón told The Advocate he struggled with the idea of speaking out against Peters, but felt he needed to respond publicly to ensure his own children’s safety and dispel misconceptions about gay parents.

“In our community, we’re often faced with this question of do we ignore it so that we don’t give this person a voice, or make it so that people are aware of the kind of people that are out there spreading misinformation about our community,” Rolón said. “I made the decision to talk about it because I think it’s important.”

While Peters blurred the faces of Rolón’s children in his Instagram clip, he did not do so in the full segment on Rumble, a video-hosting platform popular among conservatives.

The full video, which runs more than 50 minutes and targets LGBTQ parents as unfit to raise children, covers a significant amount of time criticizing Rolón’s parenting and shows his children’s faces, without safeguarding their identities.

Rolón told The Advocate he is seeking legal advice and weighing whether to take legal action against Peters and Rumble for not blurring his children’s faces in the longer video.

He also noted that he has had to take measures, including changing his schedule to ensure only he can pick up his children from school in order to protect them.

“My kids were initially allowed to self-dismiss from their school, and they are no longer able to self-dismiss,” Rolón said. “It’s forcing us to be a little bit more vigilant and just take extra precaution. These are the things that our community is constantly having to deal with.”

Complete Article HERE!

‘It Erases Us’

— Sex Abuse Survivors Troubled By Washington Bill

By Hannah Albarazi

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign into law a bill that eliminates time limits for bringing child sex abuse claims in the future, but survivors say they are disappointed by an amendment stripping the bill’s retroactivity, saying the legislation doesn’t go far enough to hold abusers accountable.

The bill’s own author says it no longer expands access to justice for past abuses — only future ones. Fearing that the state itself could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in liability stemming from decades of negligent supervision, the Legislature struck language from the bill that would have allowed survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring civil claims against individuals and institutions regardless of when the abuse occurred.

The overhauled bill doesn’t sit well for Seattle attorney Tim Law, who advocates for clergy abuse survivors around the world. The proposed legislation, H.B. 1618, “heavily favors institutions” and is “grossly unfair to survivors,” he told Law360 in an interview.

“There should be a window of opportunity for survivors to make their case, and without that it’s just a total giveaway,” said Law, who co-founded the nonprofit Ending Clergy Abuse.

But the Democrat-controlled state Legislature’s decision to not reopen a lookback window for survivors to bring timed-out claims came amid concerns that it could cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars and an opposition campaign by well-heeled tort reformers.

While at least 27 U.S. states have created temporary or permanent revival windows to allow survivors of child sex abuse to bring otherwise time-barred civil claims, the Washington Legislature has exhibited strong resistance to passing a bill that would allow survivors to bring claims related to past abuse.

No Looking Back

Currently, Washington’s civil statute of limitations on recovering damages from childhood sexual abuse begins tolling once the victim turns 18. The survivor then has three years from the abuse, or three years from when they discovered or reasonably should have discovered an injury caused by the abuse.

As statehouses across the U.S. pass laws allowing previously timed-out child sex abuse claims, State Rep. Darya Farivar, a Democrat, saw a need to bring Washington’s law up to date.

Farivar first introduced H.B. 1618 last year, but it stalled out in the state Senate. After being reintroduced in January, the House overwhelmingly adopted an amendment proposed by State Rep. Peter Abbarno, a Republican, that stripped the bill of its retroactivity. In its amended form, H.B. 1618 will only eliminate the statute of limitations for civil child sex abuse claims going forward.

In comments on the House floor, Abbarno said the amendment “substantively leaves the bill the same.”

Abbarno said the decision to amend the bill stemmed from the fiscal note provided by the state attorney general’s office, which estimated that it could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars to defend its Department of Children, Youth and Families — which manages the state’s foster care system — against previously time-barred claims resulting from negligent supervision. He added that making the bill prospective-only would meet both policy and fiscal needs.

But speaking on the House floor in January, Farivar said the amendment means this bill is “not going to be able to expand access to justice for current survivors.” Nonetheless, on Jan. 25 she joined her House colleagues in unanimously passing the amended bill.

Survivors Speak Out

While some survivors of childhood sexual abuse offered their support for the bill during a public hearing held by the Washington Senate’s Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 22, many expressed disappointment with the bill being neither retroactive nor containing a lookback window for survivors to bring civil claims.

It’s not hard to find states that have reformed their statutes of limitations regarding child sexual abuse claims.

Civil statutes of limitations for some or all child sex abuse claims have been eliminated in more than a third of all U.S. states, and more than half of all states have passed some form of lookback window to allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring civil claims that would otherwise be time-barred, according to the nonprofit advocacy group Child USA.

Washington resident Christene Hansen told the Senate Ways and Means Committee that her life was derailed at the age of 13 when a teacher began abusing her. She said that while she believes the bill “will inspire change in the establishments that are in place to safeguard our children,” she hoped the law would be applied retroactively.

The Washington State Association for Justice likewise urged the committee to pass the amended legislation, as did the Sexual Violence Law Firm.

But other advocates spoke out in opposition to the bill, saying its lack of retroactivity means those responsible for past abuses won’t be held to account and urged the Legislature to pass a bill that increases past and future survivors’ access to justice.

Sarah Pearson, a survivor of sexual assault and an advocate for survivors, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee in late February that she can’t support the bill as amended, saying that children deserve justice regardless of whether the abuse occurs before or after the bill takes effect.

The bill also lost support from Peter Isely, a survivor of childhood sexual assault and founder of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests who testified that the bill “must be changed and made retroactive.”

“It erases us,” testified Isely.

Michael Polenberg, vice president of government affairs at the victims’ services group Safe Horizon, pushed for the passage of New York’s Child Victims Act and Adult Survivors Act, both of which created lookback windows for survivors.

Polenberg told Law360 that while any effort to reform or eliminate the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse is a step in the right direction, he stressed that “bills should allow survivors who are outside of the current statute of limitations to seek justice as well.”

“This is why the Child Victims Act in New York was so impactful. The lookback window allowed over 10,000 lawsuits to be filed on behalf of previously time-barred survivors of childhood sexual abuse,” Polenberg said. “Similar measures to seek relief in court should be put in place for individuals who were sexually abused as adults.”

On Feb. 29, the Senate unanimously voted to pass the amended bill.

“Tip of the Iceberg”

In an interview with Law360 in late February, Farivar said it “was a deeply painful decision” to amend the bill to prospective-only, but she saw it as the only way to get support for the bill in the Legislature.

If the fiscal note is correct and the state would truly face such a steep mountain of liability under a retroactive bill, that is “egregious,” Farivar said.

But even without retroactivity, Farivar says her bill is “a really bold statement that we take recovery seriously, we know it’s not linear, we know that folks need time to come forward.”

“By giving folks that time to come forward and pursue justice on their terms, we’re going to be able to identify folks who are predators and folks who are protecting predators,” Farivar said. “That, in the long run, is going to fundamentally change what the landscape of abuse looks like in Washington and what justice survivors have access to.”

Farivar said H.B. 1618 “is really just the tip of the iceberg,” and that she’s continued to speak with advocates and survivors about how to push for legislation that allows for retroactivity or a lookback window.

“We’re not done,” she said, adding that she believes it’s important for institutions — including the government — to take responsibility for abuse that occurs on their watch.

Abbarno and the chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, State Sen. June Robinson, a Democrat, did not make themselves available for an interview with Law360.

Opposition to Lookbacks

Survivors’ desire to bring previously time-barred claims is at odds with the goals of the American Tort Reform Association, which voiced opposition to the original version of the bill.

Cary Silverman of Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP, speaking on behalf of ATRA, told Law360 in late February that “ATRA’s position is that every civil action should be subject to a finite statute of limitations, which is a key part of a properly functioning civil justice system in which courts can evaluate liability when records and witnesses are available.”

ATRA has been among the most outspoken opponents of efforts to end statutes of limitations on child sex abuse, voicing opposition in legislatures from Maine to Nevada. At least one of the states, North Dakota, has backed away from opening up a lookback window for sex abuse claims.

Silverman said ATRA “is particularly concerned with legislative proposals that retroactively revive any type of time-barred claim.”

“These proposals are especially problematic because businesses cannot go back in time to retain records already discarded, purchase more insurance, or decide not to enter an area with such an extreme liability risk,” he added.

However, Silverman said ATRA has not taken a position on Washington’s H.B. 1618 as it’s been amended.

H.B. 1618 now awaits Inslee’s signature. A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to Law360’s request for comment on the opposition voiced by survivors to the amended bill, and declined to speculate as to if or when the governor might sign the bill.

But survivors and their advocates say holding perpetrators and institutions responsible for past abuse is key to obtaining justice, and warned that rushing a bill into law that lets past abusers off the hook will only make it more difficult to pass stronger bills in the future.

“Once it passes, trying to get momentum next year to get a window becomes harder,” Law, the Seattle attorney and advocate for clergy sex abuse survivors, told Law360.

For survivors, he added, the law “sounds good, but it has no practical effect.”

Complete Article HERE!