By Keith Lacey
There is no reason for any of the 12 women who said Rev. Donald Holmes indecently touched, fondled, rubbed and kissed them to lie or fabricate evidence, assistant Crown attorney Diana Fuller told a jury in closing submissions Tuesday.
After one juror was dismissed Tuesday after informing Justice Louise Gauthier he was too ill to sit through closing submissions, the fate of Holmes now lies in the hands of the 10-man, one-woman jury.
At Northern Life?s deadline Tuesday afternoon, the jury was still listening to the final charge from Gauthier before being sequestered to begin their deliberations.
If the jury hadn?t reached a unanimous verdict by 9 pm, it?s expected Gauthier was going to tell them to remain overnight in a Sudbury hotel before resuming deliberations this morning.
The Crown alleges Holmes molested 12 young girls when they were between ages nine and 13 while he was a priest at two Sudbury churches and one in Sturgeon Falls between 1972 and 1984.
Holmes, 63, was suspended from all church duties and placed on administrative leave after one woman made an allegation of indecent assault in the fall of 1999. Numerous other complainants then came forward with similar allegations of being touched, grabbed, rubbed and kissed by Holmes in a sexually aggressive manner when they were children.
Holmes has pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault. The Crown dropped one count of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault last week in the middle of Holmes? trial.
Defence counsel Andrew Buttazzoni told the jury Tuesday in his closing submissions the Crown had failed to prove its case of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt on every single count, and Holmes should be acquitted on all charges.
There were glaring inconsistencies between the evidence of every complainant at trial and what they said in police statements or at a preliminary hearing last year, said Buttazzoni.
Most of the complainants kept in regular contact with Holmes, some sending him wedding pictures and other special pictures. This isn?t consistent with women who said they were indecently assaulted, said Buttazzoni.
Many of the complainants are also rationalizing as adults that they think something inappropriate happened 25 and 30 years ago, but there?s insufficient evidence to support a criminal conviction, he said.
Holmes has admitted giving children hugs and kisses, but he vehemently denied any contact of a sexual nature with any complainant, and this must be considered by the jury, said Buttazzoni.
Fuller disagreed saying the evidence was ?overwhelming? that Holmes did exactly as the complainants said he did.
There was no reason for any of them to lie, none held any hostility against Holmes before the incidents and hold any now with the exception of the sexual misconduct they endured, said Fuller.
The only issue in this trial is the credibility of the complainants and in her opinion, all 12 were honest, straightforward and extremely credible, she said.
No one should expect an adult to remember exact details of incidents which happened so long ago, but these women recall the exact details of the indecent assaults because he traumatized, embarrassed and frightened them, she said.
Fuller also asked the jury why 12 women, 11 who have never met outside of these court proceedings, would go through the pain and humiliation of giving their evidence in a public forum if they weren?t telling the truth.
Holmes was evasive, arrogant, argumentative and self-assured during her cross-examination and jurors should use ?common sense? and a ?gut feeling? to tell them Holmes was not telling the truth and the complainants were during the trial, she said.
When the jury is finished deliberations, they will be asked to make findings of guilt or innocence on each separate count Holmes is facing.