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Priest back in court

By Keith Lacey A Sudbury priest now serving a two-year jail sentence for sex crimes against children will return to court Friday to deal with other sex charges laid against him earlier this year in relation to two complainants from Sault Ste. Marie.
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By Keith Lacey

A Sudbury priest now serving a two-year jail sentence for sex crimes against children will return to court Friday to deal with other sex charges laid against him earlier this year in relation to two complainants from Sault Ste. Marie.

Donald Holmes, 63, will return to court Friday morning to deal with the Sault Ste. Marie matters, which have been transferred to Sudbury.

Holmes was charged the first week of January with with two counts of sexual assault for incidents which allegedly took place while he was a priest at St. Ignace Church in Sault Ste. Marie.

Both incidents involve girls who were under age 12 at the time, say police.

Last week Holmes was sentenced to a jail sentence of two years less a day after he was convicted in May by a jury of 14 counts of indecent assault.

The jury convicted Holmes of kissing, touching, fondling and rubbing 12 young girls between the ages of nine and 15 when he was a parish priest at two Catholic churches in Sudbury and one in Sturgeon Falls between 1972 and 1983.

Holmes was originally charged in December 1999 with one count of sexual assault for an incident alleged to have taken place between 1976 and 1984 when Holmes was working at St. Dominique Church in Hanmer. The complainant was between the ages of nine and 12.

A subsequent police investigation resulted in several more complainants coming forward.

At last week?s sentencing hearing, Holmes was unrepentant insisting that while he may have caused some pain and suffering to some of the girls, he never touched any of them for a sexual purpose at any time.

Every complainant testified they admired and trusted Holmes as a person and spiritual leader, only to have that trust betrayed when Holmes would get them alone to grope, kiss and fondle them.

Defence counsel Andrew Buttazzoni had asked the court to impose a conditional sentence of strict house arrest for up to two years. Assistant Crown attorney Diana Fuller had asked the court to impose a penitentiary term of three years.

Although Holmes remains a priest and can continue to say mass privately, he has taken early retirement.

When Holmes was first charged in 1999, he was suspended from active duty and placed on administrative leave by Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe.

Holmes? lawyer Andrew Buttazzoni told the court at the sentencing hearing that Holmes has been suspended for the rest of his life from practising as a priest again.

There?s no chance of Holmes applying to become part of another Canadian diocese, Plouffe told Northern Life.

?I don?t think in the current climate that allowing him to lead a public ministry would be a wise decision,? said Plouffe. ?I can?t allow him to return to a public ministry and I don?t think any other bishop would be open to accepting him.?



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