Just when redemption was around the corner, along comes another kick in the slats to test the faith of Fr. Joe Leclair.
The former priest at Ottawa’s Blessed Sacrament Church was last week sentenced to a year in jail, one year in probation and a restitution of $134,000, after he admitted he had a gambling addiction and lied and stole money from his parishioners, helped himself to thousands of dollars from the collection plate and redirected fees to his own accounts.
But if the claims of Kenneth McGrath are to be believed, Leclair may soon be facing a whole ‘nother vale of tears.
According to McGrath, who once launched a petition to get a state funeral for Stompin’ Tom Connors, he complained about Fr. Joe’s behaviour to church officials and to Ottawa flatfeet, but nothing came of it.
He says LeClair:
– “Made repeated sexual comments about his young parishioners and pastoral care group members.”
– “Tried to lure me into his bedroom secretly, and un-chaperoned when I was at my most vulnerable in the early stages of battling my own addiction for which I am now twenty-five plus (25+) years clean now.”
– “Tried to have me touch him inappropriately.”
– “Attempted to harm me by touching me inappropriately.”
McGrath’s allegations have reached the highest levels of the long-suffering Ottawa diocese. Msgr. Kevin Beech, Vicar General, has invited McGrath to contact him if he wishes to initiate (sigh) yet another investigation.
If substantiated, the accusations would be a hard swallow for the core of Fr. Joe’s forgiving and devoted flock, who have thus far stood by their beloved shearer, throughout his legal tribulations.