Montreal priest convicted of sex crimes pleads guilty to additional charges

Brian Boucher, a Roman Catholic priest who has worked at 10 churches in Montreal over the last two decades, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of sexual interference and one count of invitation to sexual touching.

Brian Boucher avoids second trial involving another victim, now faces canonical inquiry, possible defrocking

Fr. Brian Boucher, 57, seen here at the Montreal courthouse last year during a separate trial, pleaded guilty on Monday. (CBC News)

Brian Boucher, a Roman Catholic priest who has worked at 10 churches in Montreal over the last two decades, has pleaded guilty to one count of sexual interference and one count of invitation to sexual touching. 

It's the second conviction in two weeks for Boucher on sex-related charges.

On Jan. 8, a judge found Boucher guilty of sexually harassing and assaulting a former altar boy more than a decade ago, while he was parish priest at a church in the Town of Mount Royal.

In a brief appearance at the Montreal courthouse Monday morning, Boucher admitted he sexually abused a second altar boy, this time while he was a junior priest at a parish in Montreal's LaSalle borough in the 1990s.

His trial before judge alone was set to get underway this morning. 

Two other charges against Boucher were stayed. 

Victim testified in previous trial

The victim in the second case had already testified as a witness in the previous trial. He was called by the prosecution as a "similar-fact witness," to try to establish a pattern of behaviour by Boucher.

Crown prosecutor Annabelle Sheppard said that for the purposes of Monday's guilty plea, the Crown and defence agreed to accept the witness's testimony from the first trial as fact.

"In the course of the first trial, Brian Boucher denied those facts. Today, he finally admitted them by pleading guilty," Sheppard said.

"The victim was very happy, very relieved because he would have had to testify again in this case," said Sheppard.

"It was a huge relief for him."

Motels, pornography, confession

In the first trial, the victim — now in his 30s — said he came to know Boucher when he was an altar boy at St. John Brébeuf Parish in LaSalle.

He testified Boucher began abusing him when he was 11.

He said for a period of two years, Boucher would drive him to motels, watch pornography with him, touch his genitals and force him to give and receive oral sex.

He testified this happened almost weekly over a period of two years, until he was 13.

He said after these incidents, Boucher would often say to him, "We shouldn't have done that. We have to go confess."

The man testified he still feels the effects of the abuse.

"It's the little things that still affect me today. Even if someone I care for puts their hand on my leg, it still affects me," he said.

He choked up when he told the court about finally telling his mother what had happened.

"At my age, I told my mom. Seeing her break down ... it was devastating," he said.

'Your pain is our pain': Archbishop

The Montreal archdiocese issued a statement Monday responding to Boucher's guilty plea.

"With this plea, the victims are able to continue the difficult process of healing according to their own needs and out of the glare of the public," the statement read.

"It's a scandal that is a source of tremendous sadness. It stands in complete opposition to Jesus Christ and his Church," said Archbishop Christian Lépine in the statement.

"We are of one heart with the victims, their families, their parish communities in their pain and suffering," Lépine said. "Your pain is our pain."

 "We will never accept that such crimes be committed and remain concealed."

The statement also said any other victims who come forward about alleged abuse would be "received openly and listened to carefully."

Boucher — still a priest — could now be defrocked

In its statement, the archdiocese explained that one of Boucher's victims first approached the diocese in December 2015 and said the diocese co-operated with every step of the subsequent police investigation.

It said the archdiocese immediately removed Boucher from all ministry functions, including saying mass in public or hearing confessions, and initiated a disciplinary proceeding called a "canonical inquiry."

The archdiocese said the inquiry was suspended pending the outcome of the criminal trials.

It said the process will now resume.

It explained that several sanctions can be imposed on a cleric deemed guilty, including "dismissal from the clerical state (laicization)."

Sentencing arguments for Boucher for the case in which he pleaded guilty Monday and for his previous guilty verdict are set for March 25.