Roland Lanoie priest charged with sexually assaulting youth.
A retired Roman Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of St. Boniface has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one of indecent assault, dating to more than three decades ago.
The alleged victim was a youth when the offences occurred, the Winnipeg Police Service said Monday, while announcing Roland Lanoie, 70, had been arrested Oct. 3.
Police said they began investigating earlier this year, after an adult male came forward to say he was the victim of a series of sexual assaults while he was a resident student at the St. Boniface Minor Seminary (now the St. Philip Minh Roman Catholic Church) between 1982 and 1988.
Police said they confirmed Lanoie was an ordained priest who was working in various positions with the Archdiocese of St. Boniface when the alleged offences occurred.
Lanoie was priest at St. Norbert Parish (2015-17), but also worked as pastor at Christ the King Parish (1982-94), as well as St. Eugene Parish, Ste. Agathe Parish and Paroisse Saints-Martyrs-Canadiens. He also served as a chaplain at St. Boniface Hospital.
“The archdiocese began working closely with the victim, the Winnipeg police, as well as Child and Family Services of Winnipeg as soon as the situation was made known to it in December of 2016,” when the man disclosed his account to the Church, the archdiocese said in a statement Monday.
“The archdiocese expresses its deep sorrow to the victim who has come forward, as well as to his family and to all those who have been affected by these matters.”
A WPS spokesman said it began an investigation in spring 2018, after the archdiocese contacted police.
The criminal investigation was delayed over a year until the alleged victim — after receiving counselling — was ready to make a formal complaint to police, archdiocese spokesman Richard Frechette said.
“The victim was not ready to go to police. He wanted us to know, and he wanted us to take action on this. When we found out about this in December 2016, we went to the went the police and to CFS… CFS followed up immediately, but the police could not until the victim came forward,” he said.
The archdiocese said it did a preliminary internal investigation of some of the sexual-abuse allegations. Archbishop Albert LeGatt then met with Lanoie on Jan. 10, 2017, and accepted his resignation from all ministerial activity.
An archdiocese advisory committee later recommended Lanoie receive a temporary suspension and could no longer minister to the public.
The archdiocese said LeGatt also wrote to the Vatican to ask what should be done, and was advised to “impose measures that he deemed appropriate, and that would also bring healing to the victim.”
Meanwhile, the church investigation continued and officials there took steps to ensure Lanoie “will ever be able to work as a priest anywhere in the world… ever again,” Frechette said.
LeGatt issued a decree of permanent suspension of faculties of priestly ministry on Dec. 22, 2017.
“Each time the heinous crime of sexual abuse is reported, victims and their families are wounded again, the vast majority of faithful priests bow their heads in shame, and sincere Catholics, Christians and people of good will, experience shock, sorrow, anger and righteous indignation,” the archdiocese statement said.
“Every single abuse case involving a minor, no matter when it took place, is wrong, and we must listen attentively and respond compassionately to those who have been victimized and hurt, particularly if the abuser is connected in any way with our Church.”
Its actions earned praise Monday from U.S. advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“We’re grateful that the Archdiocese of St. Boniface had worked so diligently with law enforcement officials to bring justice for the survivor in this case. We would hope that those same church officials will now aggressively reach out to other parishioners in their flock and encourage anyone who had seen, suspected or suffered abuse… to come forward and make a report to the police,” SNAP executive director Zach Hiner said in an email Monday.
Frechette said the Church’s investigation did not turn up any other potential victims.
In 2014, the archdiocese suspended another priest, Ronald Leger, from ministerial duties when officials learned of allegations against him. Leger pleaded guilty in 2015 to sexual-assault charges involving three young men, and later faced additional charges after others stepped forward with historic accounts that spanned three decades.
Lanoie, who has been released from custody, was one of three chaplains at St. Boniface Hospital who complained almost a decade ago that their boss, a priest, had bullied them.
A later decision by a labour arbitrator ruled the complaints of harassment and abuse “were entirely without merit,” and the trio was asked to apologize to the hospital and to the priest.