A Cornwall-area priest is seeking a publication ban on his identity at a public inquiry into sexual abuse allegations, an inquiry that has already been criticized as too secretive.
The Cornwall public inquiry is examining how authorities responded to dozens of child sexual abuse allegations against prominent members of the southeastern Ontario community over several decades. Only one person was ever convicted, despite more than 100 charges laid against 15 people.
Journalists and media outlets have argued that the inquiry isn't truly public, because it is withholding evidence and has imposed a largenumber of publication bans.
But Ottawa lawyer James Foord is seeking yet another publicationban toprotect the identity of his client,Rev. Charles MacDonald.
"It's an application to ban the name of Father MacDonald, the use of his name, and any details which would tend to identify him," Foord said.
A judge will decide next Friday whether to enact the ban, which would forceMacDonald's name to be removed from records of previous testimony.
Alleged victims to testify next week
Foord'sapplication comes just before next week's scheduled testimony ofmen who say they were sexually abused by MacDonald as boys.
MacDonald was eventually charged with 19 counts involving the nine alleged victims after news broke in 1994 that the church had paid a former altar boy $32,000 for not publicizinghis allegations he was sexually assaulted by MacDonald.
MacDonald's trial was repeatedly delayed as new accusations were made against him.
In 2002, a judge ruled that the delays in the trial had been unreasonable and ordered a stay of proceedings.
Earlier during the Cornwall public inquiry,a lawyer representing MacDonald asked for MacDonald's alleged victims to be banned from testifying. The lawyer argued that allegations not proven in court should not be heard where they might be accepted as truth.
A three-member panel of Ontario Divisional Court judges rejected that application in August.