Priest Gets 5 Years
With Konstanty Przybylski off to Prison, His Victims -- Former Altar Boys -- Can Try to 'Rebuild and Heal.'

By Jane Sims
London Free Press [Canada]
July 5, 2006

Simcoe -- As a Roman Catholic priest for three decades, Konstanty Przybylski had walked this way before -- with his head bowed, his hands clasped in front of him.

But yesterday's walk from the Simcoe courthouse through the parking lot to the OPP station for a DNA sample was one of humiliation, not humility.

Przybylski's clasped hands were held together with handcuffs.

The head was bowed in shame.

As two OPP officers led away the 56-year-old Przybylski -- Father Konny to his parishioners -- to begin a five-year prison sentence, the two men he sexually abused when they were Port Dover altar boys stood together in relief.

"I know he's going to jail. I know he can't hurt me any more," said Phillipe-Alexandre Lauriault, 24.

"Now it's trying to rebuild and heal from there."

Lauriault and Trevor Kannawin, 24, both had a court-imposed publication ban lifted to reveal what happened to them when they were teenagers with ties to St. Cecilia's Church.

At one point, they were best friends, but didn't know they each had been victimized by the same man.

It was a random meeting at a bar years later when they let each other know they were not alone in their agony.

The two men have each launched $3.1-million civil lawsuits against Przybylski and the Diocese of London.

Ontario Court Justice Martha Zivolak, in imposing the maximum sentence requested by the Crown, made it clear she believed the young men were victims of a horrendous breach of trust.

Przybylski's lawyer had sought a conditional sentence.

The priest pleaded guilty in February to one count of sexual assault and two counts of sexual touching.

Zivolak reviewed the pattern of abuse Lauriault and Kannawin experienced.

First it was hugs, then kisses, then fondling.

Then came the sleepovers, trips, mutual masturbation, fellatio and for one of them, anal intercourse.

The abuse started in 1995 for Kannawin at age 13 and lasted for three years. Przybylski was welcomed into his parents' home and trusted in the community.

Przybylski turned the boy on to alcohol and cigarettes and took him on a trip to Chicago, where he had been posted earlier.

Lauriault was 17 when the abuse started in 1998 and continued until 2000. Przybylski took him to Chicago, Poland and to meet Pope John Paul II in Rome.

He bought him a car.

Zivolak said though there was no overt violence, the extent of the grooming and Przybylski's position within the community were significant aggravating factors in sentencing.

The men have suffered, she said. Lauriault gave up his dream of being a priest. Both had troubles in school and with coping every day.

Both told of their struggles in victim impact statements.

Zivolak said the two men had "tremendous strength" to come forward.

Zivolak was concerned about Przybylski's "lack of insight" into his behaviour.

Defence lawyer Michael McArthur had argued earlier the priest had counselling and never acted out on his impulses until he was posted to Port Dover, where he felt isolated and lonely.

Zivolak also noted Przybylski had told his congregation when he left he had cancer, but he is not being treated.

She rejected his claim that Kannawin had tried to extort $36,000 from him over two years, commenting she had grave concerns about the priest's evidence.

As well as violating the boys' trust both physically and spiritually, Zivolak called the crimes "a violation of all those who respected you in the Catholic church."

Przybylski asked for forgiveness in his address to court.

"I want to apologize to everyone," he said.

Both men said they come to court expecting the worst -- house arrest.

"To have the judge believe the two of us today is a great feeling," Lauriault said.

Kannawin, holding his eight-month-old daughter, said he went to the police initially "to put behind me before I moved forward with my life.

"I'm relieved. It's been a long time waiting -- a sense of closure."

Forgiveness, however, is a more complicated issue.

"I'm hoping I can," Kannawin said. "(But) not right now, that's for sure."

Lauriault said the diocese should feel "shame."

"I realize no one is perfect, but there were signals there. They should have seen it coming . . . There's no way they didn't have any suspicions."

A diocese spokesperson could not be contacted yesterday.

Until yesterday, Przybylski was living at the rectory of St. Martin's of Tours on London's Cathcart Street, just steps from St. Martin's elementary school.

Lauriault said housing the priest there was "unforgivable."


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