No Cornwall Gag Order
Judges Uphold Decision to Hear Abuse Allegations at Inquiry
Toronto Sun [Canada]
August 15, 2006
Toronto -- Victims will be allowed to testify about the alleged abuse they suffered when the Cornwall public inquiry resumes next month.
In a unanimous decision, a three-member Ontario Divisional Court panel of judges rejected an application Monday by Rev. Charles MacDonald, who sought a gag order on victims expected to begin testifying Sept. 11.
"This is certainly good news and we are all pleased with the decision," said Peter Engelmann, lead counsel for the inquiry.
"We are pleased at how quickly it happened."
The application, originally filed by MacDonald in March, was heard Monday morning at Osgoode Hall in Toronto.
An attorney representing the priest spent about two hours outlining reasons why a May 1 decision by inquiry commissioner Normand Glaude allowing victims to testify openly about abuse should be reversed.
No representatives of the victims group, consisting of roughly 40 men and women, were required to defend their right to testify at the inquiry.
Steve Parisien said Monday he was pleased with the decision.
He also said he hopes the court will follow suit as it hears applications from other groups such as the Cornwall Community Police Service.
The police are appealing a ruling from the commissioner demanding the disclosure of documents the police service says are protected under solicitor-client privilege.
Reasons for the decision are expected to be filed within two weeks.
In the meantime, Engelmann said work is continuing as the inquiry moves full steam ahead towards the portion of testimony everyone has been waiting for -- the victims' stories.
"We have said since day one, and the commissioner has said it, we are not calling evidence to prove any of these allegations," he said.
WON'T GO INTO DETAILS
"We won't get into great details (about the abuse) but we will need a few details in order to examine the institutional response to the allegations."
The inquiry is looking into institutional response to and police investigations of historical child sexual abuse in the Cornwall area.
The inquiry will resume Sept. 5.
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