Swales Recounts '20 Lost Years'

London Free Press [Canada]
Downloaded June 13, 2003

The man who was sexually abused by a London priest battled addictions and turned tricks in Victoria Park.

PETER GEIGEN-MILLER, Free Press Reporter 2003-06-13 03:39:50

He calls them his 20 lost years, a time when his life became an odyssey of drug and alcohol addiction, broken relationships and male prostitution. John Swales recalled yesterday how those 20 lost years began with the arrest in 1974 of Rev. Barry Glendinning, the Roman Catholic priest who had befriended him and his family over a period of more than four years.

Glendinning was charged with sexually abusing Swales and other youngsters and pleaded guilty in 1974 to gross indecency.

Swales, his brothers Ed and Guy and his family are suing Glendinning and the Roman Catholic Diocese of London for pain and suffering they say resulted from the abuse.

The diocese has denied negligence.

During the fourth day of the civil trial in London yesterday, Swales said he was devastated by Glendinning's arrest.

He'd earlier testified he went on hikes and camping trips with Glendinning and visited the priest's quarters at St. Peter's Seminary in London.

Frequent sexual activity occurred during the camping trips and seminary visits, he has testified.

Swales said he'd come to care deeply for Glendinning and was devastated by his arrest.

"I didn't want to see him go to jail . . . I loved him."

At the same time, he felt betrayed by the man he'd come to rely on as a friend and mentor, a man able to "take care of things."

"I didn't foresee this catastrophic event," he said of the arrest.

Swales described how he "went wild" after the arrest.

He began associating with "downtown people" in London and consumed LSD for the first time.

During a trip to Nova Scotia in the summer of 1974, he became involved with a crowd that used alcohol and drugs and was befriended by an older man, a neighbour of the family with whom he was staying.

He said the neighbour, a man in his 60s, gave him clothes and paid him for sex.

Asked why he engaged in sex with the man, Swales responded: "Frankly, it paid well. He was supplying me with cash."

Swales said he gravitated back to life on the streets when he returned to London and began injecting speed as well as using LSD and marijuana and consuming the "occasional bottle of wine."

He said he supported himself by prostituting himself in Victoria Park, turning tricks with men for $20 to $50. The price depended on the sex act performed.

Later, after another trip to Nova Scotia, he lived in the Toronto area for a time.

There he acquired a "sugar daddy," a lawyer who, in exchange for sex, provided Swales with cash and paid the rent for a farmhouse in Milton where Swales and friends stayed.

Swales said he eventually recognized drugs and alcohol were destroying his life and managed to kick both after attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting nearly 10 years ago.

He's been drug- and alcohol- free since and has worked as a self-employed auto mechanic in London, he told court.

The case continues.


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