Priest loses appeal for identity ban at Cornwall inquiry

A third bid by a Catholic diocese for a publication ban on the identity of a priest, acquitted of sexual abuse, at the Cornwall public inquiry has been struck down by an Ontario judge.

A third bid by a Catholic diocesefor apublicationban on the identity of a priest, acquitted of sexual abuse, whenhe's named at the Cornwall public inquiryhas been struckdown by anOntario judge.

Judge Robert Sharpe of the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld on Tuesday the rulings of Commissioner Normand Glaude and that of a divisional court judge.

Both had ruledthe identity of the priest should remain public.

Glaude, however,decided Tuesday thata ban should remain in place for 10 days to give the diocese a chance to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada — its last chance to geta publication ban.

Theinquiry is examining how institutions responded to scores of allegations of child sexual abuse made against prominent members of the eastern Ontario community.

Openness neededfor healing: judge

In his ruling, Sharpe said he recognized that the 61-year-old priest was acquitted in 2001 of charges that he sexually abused Claude Marleau, one of the victims testifying at the inquiry.

He agreed "that there may be an element of unfairness" in allowing the publication of the priest's identity, and that media accounts of public testimony about the sexual abuse allegations might damage his reputation, as argued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall.

But Sharpe said he also agreed with Glaude that openness was needed to fulfil the inquiry's mandate to "help heal a community long-troubled by allegations of conspiracy, secrecy and cover-up."

He alsonoted, as Glaude did,that the priest's name has already been made public in connection to the allegations and that his name is relevant to the inquiry.

Lawyers for Cornwall police, a victims' group and the CBC all made arguments in favour ofGlaude's ruling.

Glaude earlier rejected a ban on the identity of another priest, Father Charles MacDonald. MacDonald has not yet filed an appeal, but says he will.

Since the inquiry opened, it has been bogged down by requests for publication bans and other lawyers' motions, and has been criticized for being too secretive.

The inquiry follows the results of a 1997 provincial police investigation into an alleged pedophile ring in Cornwall.

The priest in question and MacDonald were among 15 men, including a doctor, lawyers and three priests, who faced 114 charges in a 1997 Ontario Provincial Police investigation called Project Truth into an alleged pedophile ring.

Only one personwas ever convicted of sexual offences connected with the case.