New Brunswick

'It wasn't me': Disgraced Catholic priest denies touching boy in 1970s

A former Moncton priest says he molested teenage boys during his time with the church, but the latest round of criminal accusations against him are completely untrue.

'If I had done this, I would admit it,' says Yvon Arsenault, who is serving time for other sex crimes

Yvon Arsenualt says he's already admitted to sexually assaulting nine boys when he was a priest but the latest charges against him aren't true. (Radio-Canada)

A former priest says he molested teenage boys during his time with the church, but the latest round of criminal accusations against him are completely untrue.

The second trial of disgraced Catholic priest Yvon Arsenault continued in Moncton on Wednesday.

The 75-year-old is accused of indecent assault and gross indecency for incidents that are alleged to have taken place between 1970 and 1972 in Shediac. 

This is in addition to sexual crimes for which he has already been convicted and is serving time. In 2017, Arsenault was sentenced to four years in prison after he admitted to touching nine young boys in the 1970s.

Taking the stand in his own defence, Arsenault said he was "profoundly hurt" by the latest accusation and "could not understand it at all."

If it happened to him, it wasn't me.- Yvon   Arsenault , former priest

At the start of the trial Tuesday, the alleged victim claimed Arsenault molested him when he was 10 to 12 years old, at the former Boys and Girls Club in Shediac.

He said the priest touched him sexually on more than a dozen occasions, and one time had oral sex with him.

Arsenault testified he was a young assistant priest — 27 years old — when he began working at the Saint-Joseph Parish in Shediac.

'I was guilty of some things'

He said he doesn't remember the alleged victim, since there were close to 200 children at the church at that time.

When asked by his defence lawyer, Alison Menard, if he ever touched the man, Arsenault denied it.

"Absolutely not," he said. "I never did that — to him or any other child there at the youth club."

Defence lawyer Alison Menard spent much of Wednesday morning trying to poke holes in the victim's account of the alleged assaults by Yvon Arsenault. (CBC)

\Arsenault told the court he pleaded guilty to nine criminal accusations already, and if he had done the deed, he would admit it.

"I pleaded guilty to accusations against me because I was guilty of some things, but I cannot plead guilty to what I have not done," he said.

"I don't remember having any incidents of a sexual nature in that house."

'I was playful'

Arsenault admitted he molested teenage boys in places other than the Boys and Girls club but insisted they were always at least 13 years old.

When asked about an alleged incident in the bathroom of the club, where the victim claimed the priest tried to have oral sex with him, Arsenault said he did not understand the accusation.

"I have no memory of that," he said. "And I really made a big effort to try to understand if I forgot something, and no, I did not. I did not do that. That I'm absolutely convinced of. 

"If it happened to him, it wasn't me.

"Something I can say about myself, is I was playful. I would tease young ones, it was easy for me to talk to them. But it was always in public."

Questions victim's motive

The defence spent the morning trying to poke holes in the victim's testimony, calling into question his memory of events  and his motivation for bringing this to trial.

Menard brought up a civil lawsuit the man has filed against Yvon Arsenault and the church.

Arsenault showed little emotion in court. He was brought in by a sheriff and sat in the prisoner's box wearing a blue polo shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. 

He brought the Book of Joshua with him and was taking notes throughout the hearing.