Sep 19/97: Former staff of residential school accused


Globe and Mail
Friday, September 19, 1997, p. A9
Timothy Appleby

[Please note: The following mainstream news article may contain distorted or inaccurate information and may be missing important facts and/or context. It is provided for reference purposes only -- S.I.S.I.S.]

Seven former employees of a remote Roman Catholic boarding school in Northern Ontario were charged yesterday with sexual assault and assault, capping a five year investigation. All used to work at St. Anne's Residential School in the tiny, mostly native community of Fort Albany, on the western shore of James Bay.

Five were charged by means of a summons, while arrest warrants have been issued for the other two. All have been ordered to appear in provincial court in Sudbury on Oct. 15. St Anne's opened its doors in 1903 and closed in 1973. During those years, when it was operated on behalf of the federal government by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Moosonee, the Oblate order and the Grey Nuns, thousands of young Crees and Ojibwa were compelled to attend.

The charges laid yesterday, after a wide-ranging Ontario Provincial Police investigation that emcompassed more than 900 interviews, allege that a total of 17 former students, male and female, were abused. That number, however, could grow. "There may be some victims we haven't spoken to who may come to light," said Detective Constable Greg Delguidice, a member of the OPP's Cochrane detachment and the only officer attached to the investigation since its outset. "Usually there are other people who call in."

Reflecting the wording of the Criminal Code of the day, the sex charges allege "indecent," rather than sexual assault. The abuses at St. Anne's included electric shock [an 'electric chair' was used for punishment -- S.I.S.I.S.], whippings and severe beatings, homosexual and heterosexual rape, sexual fondling and forced masturbation, the OPP was told during its investigation.

The probe was launched after a three-day school reunion in Fort Albany in 1992, where former students began recounting their experiences. When word of the allegations began spreading, it created bitter divisions among the 1,400 area residents, who were divided over whether charges should be laid against elderly priests and nuns.

Ann Wesley, 72, of Moosonee, Ont., is charged with five counts of assault, three counts of assault causing bodily harm and five counts of administering a noxious substance [children who became sick after eating rotten porridge were forced to consume their own vomit -- S.I.S.I.S.]. John Moses Rodrique, 49, of Timmins, Ont., faces four charges of indecent assault and two of gross indecency.

Also charged with indecent assault are Claude Lambert, 50, of St. Andre-Avellin, Que., Claude Chenier, 49, of Aylmer Que., John Cushing, 77, of Kitchener, Ont,. and Marcel Blais, 49, of Ottawa. Charged with three counts of assault causing bodily harm is 61 year old Jane Kakeychewan, named in one of the arrest warrants.

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