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Priest found guilty of more groping

By Keith Lacey Two more of Donald Holmes? victims wiped away tears as the disgraced Roman Catholic priest was found guilty Friday of two counts of sexual assault for incidents which took place in Sault Ste. Marie 15 years ago.
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By Keith Lacey

Two more of Donald Holmes? victims wiped away tears as the disgraced Roman Catholic priest was found guilty Friday of two counts of sexual assault for incidents which took place in Sault Ste. Marie 15 years ago.

However, Justice Guy Mahaffy agreed with a joint submission from the Crown and the defence that Holmes will not serve any additional jail time on top of a two-year sentence he received two weeks ago.

Holmes, 63, was sentenced to two years less one day Aug. 13 by Justice Louise Gauthier of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice after a jury found him guilty of 14 counts of indecent assault.

Those assaults took place against 12 girls between the ages of nine and 15 when Holmes was a parish priest in Sudbury and Sturgeon Falls between 1972 and 1983.

Two complainants, now in their 20s, made similar allegations against Holmes when he was a parish priest in Sault Ste. Marie in November 1987. Looking pale, extremely tired and sporting a grey suit, Holmes pleaded not guilty to both chareges Friday.

However, defence counsel Andrew Buttazzoni said he accepted an agreed statement of facts submitted by assistant Crown attorney Karen Lische, and added he would not be offering any defence to the court.

Mahaffy sentenced Holmes to a one-year concurrent sentence to time already being served.

But Mahaffy issued a stern warning to Holmes that his crimes were very serious.

?I don?t disagree the sentence should be concurrent,? said the veteran provincial court judge. ?But I do agree a conditional sentence would not be appropriate.

At the sentencing hearing to weeks ago, Holmes said he may have used improper judgment, but was innocent of touching, groping or fondling any young girl at any time.

In the agreed statement of facts read into the court record Friday, Lische told the court Holmes worked as a parish priest at a church and school in Sault Ste. Marie in 1987. On consecutive days in November, Holmes was playing with a bunch of children at a public swimming pool, said Lische.

Holmes was playing in the water when he placed one hand between the first complainant?s legs and left it there for several seconds.

Two days later, the girl disclosed to her mother, grandmother and several teachers what had happened, and the Children?s Aid Society and police were contacted.

In a police videotaped statement made last October, the girl, now age 22, told police how she kept trying to get away from Holmes inside the pool, but he kept fondling and groping her.

The next day in the same pool, Holmes was playing with the second complainant, who had just turned nine, when he reached down and slid his hands between her legs, said Lische.

The girl was very upset and the next day told her mother and several teachers what had happened. Once again, the Sault CAS and police were contacted. In her police videotaped statement, the girl, now 24, said Holmes rubbed her private area on top of her bathing suit and and wouldn?t let go for several seconds until she finally broke free.

Both girls changed schools because of these incident.

In December of 1987, police met with Holmes and his lawyer in Sault Ste. Marie and told them while there was insufficient evidence to lay charges at the time, they cautioned Holmes not to indulge in any inappropriate physical contact with young girls, said Lische.

On Jan. 2 of this year, police in Sudbury arrested Holmes in relation to the two complaints in Sault Ste. Marie.

Holmes will now be transferred from the Sudbury District Jail to another Ontario reformatory to begin his sentence.


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