Just moments after he was sentenced in a Sudbury courtroom to almost two years in jail for sex crimes, an unrepentant Catholic priest turned and spoke to his victims.
Donald Holmes, 63, told the women that he had fondled, kissed and rubbed three decades ago that he didn’t commit any crime.
“I still love you as God’s children, daughters and sons,” he said.
Many of the women, who were deeply religious girls aged 9 to 15 when they were abused, gasped.
The priest said he “has prayed and will continue to pray for the jury. I will pray for the Crown attorney, for my accusers.”
Madam Justice Louise Gauthier of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice sentenced Father Holmes yesterday to two years less a day for 14 counts of indecent assault against 12 victims.
The priest was suspended by the local Catholic diocese for the rest of his life after he was found guilty of abusing the girls at two Sudbury churches and one in nearby Sturgeon Falls from 1972 to 1983.
The first allegation of sexual impropriety surfaced in 1999. Other complainants then came forward.
Every witness testified that they had admired and trusted Father Holmes, only to have that trust betrayed when he would get them alone to kiss and fondle them.
Defence counsel Andrew Buttazzoni had asked the court to impose a conditional sentence of strict house arrest for up to two years. Assistant Crown attorney Diana Fuller had asked for a penitentiary term of three years.
Judge Gauthier said she considered the 110 letters of support from parishioners, and that Father Holmes is a first-time offender with health problems. However, granting a conditional sentence would send the wrong message she said.