Priest convicted of sexual abuse to be paroled

A former Ontario Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing more than a dozen boys in Canada over a 20-year period will be released on parole Tuesday.

A former Ontario Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing more than a dozen boys over a 20-year period will be released on parole Tuesday.

Bernard Prince was a priest from the small Polish community of Wilno, Ont., about 180 kilometres west of Ottawa, when the incidents took place. He was convicted in 2008 of molesting 13 boys between 1964 and 1984.

Prince's victims were between 12 and 15 years old and many were altar boys he met in Wilno. The incidents took place at Prince's cottage, his Ottawa apartment and at the victims' homes.

Prince was sentenced to four years in prison and is being paroled after serving two-thirds of the sentence, or two years and eight months.

A victim of Prince's, whose name is covered by a publication ban, told CBC's Ottawa Morning the timing of Prince's expected release caught him off guard.

"I'm a bit overwhelmed … I knew it was going to happen," he told CBC News.

'We've served a life sentence'

"He wasn't going to serve the sentence we did," he said. "We've served a life sentence for something he served two years and eight months for."

Rick Goodwin, the executive director of abuse counselling group The Men's Project, said letting victims know about a perpetrator's impending release is the "least of a courtesy" that can be done for the men.

But he said informing the public at large is a contentious and unclear area. While communities say they have a right to know when an offender is released, too much attention on the offender can have adverse effects, he said.

"If we start chasing perpetrators out of one community to get into another community or away from their job which they need to pay for their rent, we're putting this rather delicate individual who is back in our society at risk of being in crisis," said Goodwin, who said such a state can lead perpetrators to reoffend.

Prince's conviction received national attention because of his status with the church. In 1991, he was promoted to the position of secretary general for the Vatican's Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and moved to the Vatican, where he served until he retired in 2004.

He was still living in Rome when Ontario Provincial Police issued a warrant for his arrest on accusations of sexual abuse. Prince was defrocked from the Catholic Church in 2009.