Montreal

'A prisoner in my own life': Alleged assault victim testifies at trial of Fr. Brian Boucher

A witness at the sexual assault trial of a Montreal priest, Brian Boucher, 57, said he was assaulted for three years by Boucher, who was his parish priest and a close friend of his family, beginning when he was 12 years old.

WARNING: Story contains graphic details of alleged sexual assault, sexual interference

Before he was accepted as a candidate for the priesthood, parishioners at St. Veronica's church in Dorval, QC said they complained about Brian Boucher's troubling behaviour with young boys in the mid-1980's. (SPVM) (SPVM)

A witness at the sexual assault trial of a Montreal priest, Brian Boucher, 57, said he was assaulted for three years by Boucher, who was his parish priest and a close friend of his family, beginning when he was 12 years old.

The man now in his 20s, whose name is protected by a publication ban, testified the assaults began after Boucher asked him questions about his sexual feelings, escalating from forced kissing and masturbation to oral sex and anal penetration.

Boucher, who was ordained as a priest in 1996, served at English parishes throughout the greater Montreal region, and worked as a chaplain at McGill University and at Lakeshore Hospital in Montreal's West Island.

He's pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching.

Priest was a family friend

On the first day of testimony at the Montreal courthouse, the witness told Quebec court Judge Patricia Compagnone that Boucher was the parish priest at Our Lady of the Annunciation Parish in the Town of Mount Royal when he was a boy.

He testified that his family was devout and very involved with the parish, and Boucher was a family friend who often dined at their house.

The witness testified that a few days after a high school dance, while driving him home, Boucher said someone had told him that the boy had been "grinding" with a girl on the dance floor.

He said Boucher questioned him about that, then took him to the rectory where he lived and told him to remove all his clothes.

"He told me to get completely naked so I could be completely honest," he testified.

He said he hadn't wanted to remove his clothes, but Boucher threatened to tell his parents about the "grinding" episode if he didn't.

"I'm small. He's tall and imposing. When he says there are consequences, it's easy to see that would be the case," the witness said.

He says he removed his clothes, and Boucher touched his genitals and other parts of his body.

He says after that incident, Boucher would question him "aggressively" about his masturbation habits, and the alleged assaults continued and escalated.

'I was ashamed of what happened to me'

The witness said he was an altar boy who was at the church often, and by the time he was in his second year of high school, Boucher began regularly forcing him to give and receive oral sex while at the rectory.

"He would congratulate me, even though I didn't like it, even though I was sad, even though I was uncomfortable," he testified.

He said in the third year of high school Boucher took him to his bedroom at the rectory and penetrated him anally on three occasions.

"I was squirming and asking him what he was doing. I was not comfortable. I didn't like what was happening. He just continued. He said he was doing a trick," he testified.

The witness said the alleged assaults stopped when he was 15. He couldn't remember why.

He said he never told his parents of the alleged assaults at the time.

"I was ashamed of what happened to me. I was afraid of their reaction," he said.

He decided to file a complaint with police when he was in his first year of university.

"I was tired of it. I felt like a prisoner in my own life," he testified.

"What happened to me shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't be something anyone else has to go through," he said.

Judge scolds defendant

At one point during the witness's testimony, the judge interrupted and asked Boucher's lawyer to speak to his client about "curtailing his reactions" to the testimony, saying she found it distracting. It's not clear what Boucher had been doing.

Under cross-examination, Boucher's lawyer, James Cocciardi, asked the witness if he understood what sexuality was when he was 12 and the alleged assaults began.

"Not really. I come from a conservative family," he responded.

Cocciardi asked if what was happening to him felt strange or odd, or if he felt violated.

"I was in fear the entire time. I just shut down. I decided to lessen my pain," he responded.

The witness admitted that he went on three trips alone with Boucher after the abuse had ended. He said they went alone together to Mexico for a week while he was a CEGEP student.

"I pleaded with my mother not to go. I cried when he told me. My mother told me to go," he said.

He also said he went to Charlevoix on one occasion with Boucher, and later, when he was 18, he visited Boucher in Washington, D.C., where Boucher was pursuing theological studies at the time.

The cross-examination continues.

Boucher's trial is expected to last a week.

About the Author

Steve Rukavina is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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