Nfld. & Labrador

Victim forgives disgraced priest for abuse

Retired priest George Smith was in Supreme Court in Corner Brook for sentencing on Wednesday.
Retired priest George Smith during his sentencing hearing at Supreme Court in Corner Brook. (CBC)

Retired priest George Smith was in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in Corner Brook for sentencing Wednesday.

Smith, 75, pleaded guilty to 41 sex-related offences and has been in jail for more than a year.

Of those charges, 26 are for indecent assault, seven for sexual assault, and eight for assault.

A total of 13 victims have come forward, all of them either former altar boys or those who had families involved with the churches where Smith was parish priest.

During the reading of the agreed statement of facts, a pattern was presented for each victim.

They said they would be asked to go to Smith's home to help with tasks, and Smith would give the boys alcohol. They would drink until they either passed out or fell asleep, often waking up while Smith was touching or fondling them.

Justice William Goodridge called the statement of facts "very disturbing," but commended the victims’ courage for coming forward.

Three of the victims were in the courtroom on Wednesday to read prepared victim impact statements.

They said Smith's actions had devastating effects on their lives, and that they felt ashamed or guilty, as if they had done something wrong.

One of the victims said it led to a loss of faith, resulting in changing denominations to become a Jehovah’s Witness. After he read his statement, he looked at Smith and said, "George, I forgive you."

The Crown is seeking a sentence of nine to 13 years, while defence lawyer Tom Williams is asking for seven to nine years, less time served.

Smith will be sentenced on March 14.