Montreal Catholic priest found guilty of sexually assaulting former altar boy

Fr. Brian Boucher asked the court to "believe the unbelievable," said Judge Patricia Campagnone, finding the priest guilty of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching in a case that goes back more than a decade.

Archdiocese vows complaints such as those filed against Fr. Brian Boucher are treated 'very seriously'

Fr. Brian Boucher, 57, seen here at the Montreal courthouse in November, faces a second trial on similar allegations from other complainants later this month. (CBC News)

A Quebec court judge has found Father Brian Boucher guilty of all charges in a case involving the harassment and sexual assault of a former altar boy, starting when the youth was 12 years old.

Quebec court Judge Patricia Campagnone said Tuesday that Boucher asked the court to "believe the unbelievable" when he testified in his own defence in the case, finding the priest guilty of sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching for incidents dating back more than a decade.

In the trial before a judge alone, the complainant, now in his 20s, gave detailed testimony of the alleged assaults that he said continued for three years, escalating in their severity over time. 

The judge called the victim's testimony straightforward, frank and convincing.

The victim's identity is protected by a publication ban.

The priest's sentencing hearing has been set for March 25.

Crown prosecutor Annabelle Sheppard said she will be seeking "a substantial period of penitentiary time" for Boucher.

'Shame, revulsion and anger'

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

Although Boucher is still a priest, the Montreal archdiocese removed him from all ministry functions, including saying mass in public or hearing confessions, when he was arraigned.

The archdiocese issued a statement immediately after Campagnone's decision Tuesday, calling the verdict "a result of due process," and one which "arouses a gamut of feelings among both parishioners in the pew and Church leadership, including bishops and priests: feelings of shame, revulsion and anger as well as confusion, sadness and compassion."

"The Archdiocese acknowledges the courage of those who met with diocesan authorities to report what they had experienced, which led to the court proceedings underway," the statement reads.

The statement outlines the steps the archdiocese has taken to deal with abuse complaints and to accompany the complainants in the case of Boucher.

It also promises to implement a "safe-environment policy" throughout the diocese, consistent with national guidelines for the protection of minors issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops last fall.

Boucher is facing another trial on other sexual abuse allegations, due to begin Jan. 21.

The archdiocese said it would make no further comment on the priest's case while court proceedings against him are still underway.

With files from CBC's Steve Rukavina