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Review into how Oblates handled historical sexual assault claims being met with skepticism, hope

Review into how Oblates handled historical sexual assault claims being met with skepticism, hope

An impartial evaluate wanting into how the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate dealt with historic allegations of sexual abuse by a now-retired priest who lived within the Arctic for 3 many years is being met with each hope and skepticism by Inuit in Nunavut and those that have been observing his case.

“I’m glad that is going to be handled,” stated Steve Mapsalak from his residence in Naujaat, a hamlet in Nunavut. “It’s an ongoing factor and taking too lengthy for me.”

He stated Johannes Rivoire sexually abused him when he was 13 years previous in Naujaat.

Now 66, Mapsalak stated he has been ready a very long time for the Catholic Church to take some accountability — not just for what he stated he’s skilled as a sufferer of Rivoire, however for what others have gone by way of as effectively. “We’re not simply saying that we’re victims. It occurred,” he stated.

Former Quebec Superior Court docket justice André Denis has been appointed by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI Lacombe Canada and the Oblates of the Province of France to steer the Oblate Safeguarding Fee.

A press release issued earlier this month known as the fee “an impartial evaluate of historic allegations of sexual abuse in opposition to Johannes Rivoire in present-day Nunavut.”

In the identical assertion, Denis stated, “I recognize the chance to steer this fee and count on that my findings will contribute to better understanding of this historical past, whereas positioning the Oblates to set the next normal of accountability and security.”

Former Quebec Superior Court docket justice André Denis has been appointed to steer an impartial evaluate that may study how the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate dealt with historic allegations of sexual abuse by Rivoire. (Submitted by André Denis)

Inuit delegation travelled to France

Mapsalak and three others filed complaints in opposition to Rivoire with the police in 1998, and he was charged by the Nunavut RCMP, however by then he had returned in France.

A Canadian warrant was issued for Rivoire’s arrest in 1998, however legal expenses associated to the sexual abuse of kids have been stayed in 2017 by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. It stated an excessive amount of time had handed for the reason that alleged occasions occurred, they usually have been not within the curiosity of the general public.

In September 2021, Rivoire, who has been in France since 1993, was charged once more — this time with one depend of indecent assault of a lady in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979. That arrest warrant stays lively. Then, in February 2022, he was charged with sexually assaulting a feminine little one between 1974 and 1979.

A woman with grey hair and glasses, wearing a blue and white striped shirt, stands beside a man with black hair and a moustache, wearing a grey shirt.
Elizabeth and Steve Mapsalak are proven in Montreal earlier than flying to France in September 2022. The couple travelled with a delegation of Inuit to implore French officers to grant Canada’s request to extradite Rivoire so he can face sexual assault expenses right here. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

Rivoire, who was ordained in France in 1958 and lives in Lyon, France, has denied any wrongdoing. His first posting as a Catholic priest was in Igloolik, Nunavut, from 1960-65 — adopted by Repulse Bay (now Naujaat) from 1965-74, and Eskimo Level, now Arviat, from 1974-93.

An extradition request was made to France by the federal Division of Justice on behalf of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Whereas France has an extradition treaty with Canada, it doesn’t sometimes extradite its residents to different nations, and Rivoire doesn’t legally should return to Canada to face expenses.

Final September, Mapsalak, together with a delegation of Inuit, travelled to Paris to implore French officers to grant Canada’s extradition request in order that Rivoire can face the sexual assault expenses right here.

“There are individuals struggling. We’re struggling,” Mapsalak stated.

His group was additionally in France to lift public consciousness within the French media about allegations in opposition to Rivoire as a approach to support them of their trigger. However on Oct. 14, France denied the extradition request.

WATCH | Inuit delegation confronts retired priest accused of sexual abuse:

review into how oblates handled historical sexual assault claims being met with skepticism hope 2

Inuit delegation confronts retired priest accused of sexual abuse

WARNING: This story comprises distressing particulars. An Inuit delegation confronted retired priest Johannes Rivoire in France. Rivoire is accused of sexual abuse carried out whereas he labored in Nunavut beginning within the Sixties.

‘Transparency and accountability’

Rev. Ken Thorson, head of the OMI Lacombe Province in Ottawa, stated Denis’s fee can have full entry to information on Rivoire, together with allegations made in opposition to him in each Canada and France.

“We need to higher perceive how previous allegations of abuse have been addressed inside the group,” he stated in an interview with CBC Information.

A man with greyish hair, wearing glasses and a grey shirt and jacket, stands in front of a crucifix on a wall.
Rev. Ken Thorson, head of the OMI Lacombe Province in Ottawa, says he’s had conversations with Indigenous individuals, church leaders, survivors and their households, together with Catholics, in regards to the many errors that have been made within the church’s historical past. (Duncan McCue/CBC)

Thorson stated Denis was chosen to steer the fee due to his expertise presiding over a trial in 2008-09 involving the federal Crimes Towards Humanity and Conflict Crimes Act, in addition to for his work in 2020 analyzing how the Archdiocese of Montreal and others in Quebec dealt with allegations of sexual abuse of minors.

He stated the previous decide will even establish enhancements in Oblate insurance policies and governance that have to be modified to raised safeguard minors.

“We need to guarantee a excessive degree of transparency and accountability,” Thorson stated.

Retired priest in elder-care facility

Lieve Halsberghe, an advocate for individuals who have been sexually abused by the clergy in Belgium, stated she doesn’t belief the method.

“One other fee, wow. I imply, they haven’t realized as a result of they carry on repeating the identical blah, blah, blah. And this isn’t a brand new factor. It’s a really previous approach that they use.”

A woman with long brownish hair wears an orange shirt.
Lieve Halsberghe, an advocate for individuals who have been sexually abused by the clergy, is proven on the practice station in Lyon, France, final September. As an alternative of a evaluate, she desires Rivoire to face justice. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

Halsberghe travelled to France with the Inuit delegation final fall to stress the federal government to extradite Rivoire to Canada.

“They should stall time, we’re simply ready for Rivoire to die,” she stated of the previous priest, who’s in his early 90s and at present dwelling in a privately run elder-care centre in France, in keeping with Thorson.

“Rivoire disappeared in the course of the evening with only a backpack,” Tanya Tungilik advised a information convention in Paris final fall. Her late father, Marius Tungilik, additionally filed a sexual assault criticism in opposition to Rivoire with the RCMP in Nunavut.

As an alternative of a evaluate, Halsberghe stated she desires Rivoire to face justice. “We’ll let him defend himself in a court docket of legislation, you understand, on the similar normal of each different citizen. He’s additionally a Canadian citizen.”

Inuit group hopes evaluate will deliver peace

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org in Boston, advised CBC Information that over the past 20 years, she’s seen a rise in impartial evaluations commissioned by the church.

“The entire function of those evaluations — and I’m going to sound just a little cynical right here — is to quell public outrage. It’s a recognition by the church that they’ve obtained horrible publicity, that there’s substantial proof that [a] coverup occurred and that they enabled the sexual abuse of kids,” she stated.

A building behind a stone wall.
The Inuit delegation from Canada met with the Oblates on the Provincial Home of Oblates in Lyon throughout their journey to France final September. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

Thorson stated he understands the skepticism that folks might have, saying he’s had conversations with Indigenous individuals, church leaders, survivors and their households, together with Catholics, in regards to the many errors that have been made within the church’s historical past.

“I actually have come to consider that there’s no reconciliation with out belief, and there’s no therapeutic potential. And so I’m doing what we’re in a position to do proper now — understanding that not all people goes to be trusting or supportive of us, and but it’s what we are able to do proper now.”

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a company that represents Inuit in Canada, issued an announcement that claims it’s “wanting ahead to participating with Justice Denis and the Oblates to attain a better understanding of the selections that contributed to the unconscionable state of affairs of an accused legal being allowed to evade justice.”

The group stated it hopes the evaluate will deliver a small measure of peace to victims by way of an assurance that such actions aren’t repeated.

WATCH | Overview to look at how church dealt with priest accused of sexual abuse:

review into how oblates handled historical sexual assault claims being met with skepticism hope 6

Retired decide to evaluate how church dealt with priest accused of abusing Inuit kids

Three Oblate teams within the Catholic Church say they’re launching an impartial evaluate of how they dealt with accusations that former missionary Johannes Rivoire had allegedly abused Inuit kids. Retired Quebec decide André Denis will perform the evaluate.

“I’m very hopeful,” Steve Mapsalak stated.

Thorson is encouraging anybody who’s prepared and in a position to contribute to the fee to e-mail former justice Denis straight at  [email protected].

His ultimate report is predicted to be delivered in English, French and Inuktitut by April 1, 2024.

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