Thursday, July 04, 2024

Defrocked Montreal priest denied parole

Former Montreal priest and convicted sex offender Brian Boucher remains unrepentant as he prepares to leave prison this month, says the bishop instrumental in bringing him to justice.

While he was denied parole at his June 25 parole board hearing — according to the board report, parole was denied because Boucher refuses to admit to the crimes for which he was sentenced — Boucher is eligible for statutory release in July as he has served two-thirds of his eight-year sentence.

Boucher, 62, was convicted in March 2019 of sexually abusing two teenage boys while a priest in Montreal.

Sault Ste. Marie Bishop Thomas Dowd told The Catholic Register that Boucher “categorically denied that his original crimes ever happened.” Dowd, who served as auxiliary bishop in Montreal from 2011 to 2020, attended the former priest’s parole board hearing.

Dowd recounted that when Boucher was asked why he had pled guilty, he replied, “I was advised to do it to avoid a harsher sentence.”

“As your sentence proceeded over time, you changed your position to an outright denial of all events,” the report said. “At the hearing, you stated that you had never acknowledged any involvement in the offences. You stated that you never said what is written in the official documentation.”

Despite being laicized by the Archdiocese of Montreal in 2020, Dowd said that Boucher repeatedly referred to himself as a priest during the hearing.

Statutory release is a “legislated release” and the role of the parole board at that juncture is to impose conditions that consider both the safety of the community and the reintegration of the prisoner.

In Boucher’s case, the board imposed the maximum number of conditions for the full extent of his remaining sentence. Boucher must live in a half-way house, have no contact with his victims or children, have no job or position that places him in authority over children and report all relationships with adults who have parental authority.

Boucher's release comes despite in July 2023 being charged with sexual assault, voyeurism and harassment of a fellow inmate while he was resident at the La Macaza Institution in Quebec. 

The charges bear a striking similarity to the pattern of behaviour documented in the Capriolo Report, the independent investigation commissioned in 2020 by the Archdiocese of Montreal into the Boucher affair.

The parole board report notes that in March 2023, “information started coming in from different staff members regarding a concerning and questionable relationship between you and a younger offender living in your unit. Correctional officers observed a strong attachment between the two of you. Your CMT learned the young offender was locking himself in his cell to avoid your harassment. In the same month, he expressed his discomfort to his program officer that you were rigid in your opinions and somewhat invasive, even going to talk to him when he was in the shower. He said you refused his request to give him distance.”

Combined with the denial of the original crimes, the new charges led the board to recommend “a strict and structured environment that can also offer you opportunities to address your high needs for intervention.”

Boucher, represented by Sylvie Bordelais, has his next hearing on the new charges scheduled this month.

While in prison, Boucher has undergone multiple programs, titled Integrated Correctional Program Model (ICPM), and psychological counseling. At the end of the last ICPM undertaken in May, it was noted that Boucher had “improved your self-talk to reimagine your values and beliefs so they are not so rigid but more fluid.”

Dowd recounted that Boucher told the parole board that his takeaway from prison counselling was that “he needed to love himself more.”