Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, December 11, 2015

Life's Disappointments

"The criminal justice system has taken its course. We hope and pray that the verdict and subsequent sentencing may bring some measure of closure for all those involved."
"He will still have the title of priest [without functions]. It's very difficult to get the title of priest removed. It's a decision that the Pope has to make. So as of right now it is unlikely that title will be removed."
It's an unfortunate situation. But we've taken all the actions that we can to rectify the situation and we've put more precautions in place."
"Of course it's going to hurt our image but I think we've done everything that we can and parishioners and staff are very understanding and have been very helpful in the entire process. And I think they are probably happy with the outcome."

Emma Moynihan, London (Ontario) diocese spokeswoman
ste.anne church, tecumseh, opp, charges, theft, essex county
"The church and the parishioners trusted this person and their trust was violated."
"We should all be able to trust someone, especially someone in a position of authority, and that trust was breached."
"There were a number of schemes involved in this case, so the evidence was as complicated as the schemes that were behind them."
Assistant Crown attorney Tom Meehan

"He's very disappointed. It's definitely a serious matter for him. It's life-altering because he loves to teach and loves what he did with the church. All those things will probably change. That's what happens when you have a result like this."
"When you work hard on a case and  you deliver an argument to the jury, you hope you're successful. So we're disappointed. But we respect this system; we respect the jury for rendering its verdict."
Defence lawyer Patrick Ducharme

Rev. Robert Couture has been convicted of embezzling  funds from St. Anne Parish in Tecumseh.
Rev. Robert Couture has been convicted of embezzling funds from St. Anne Parish in Tecumseh

He has been disgraced, a man who denies that he is guilty of the charges brought against him of betraying the confidence of those whose implicit trust was subjected to the shock of discovering that their priest purloined huge sums of money for his own use, funds that were meant for the use of the faith congregation that held him in great respect, a respect he betrayed. Within an eight year period the man who was their priest took illegal possession of between $180,000 and $234,000 to feed his preferred lifestyle.

His bit-by-bit selection from collection plates, from donations for funerals, weddings, baptisms and masses where the funds taken were deposited to a bank account in the name of the church, but which was a "bogus" account, benefiting himself alone described his crime.  He was by no means living a life of poverty; his diocesan salary was $35,000 with an additional $12,000 for room and board. He earned as well $10,000 as a school board trustee, and $3,000 as a teacher.

Deemed for some reason known only to himself, insufficient to fuel the type of fine dining and travel he had accustomed himself to, inclusive of Broadway shows, jet-setting in Europe and driving his Cadillac, which alone must have raised some inquisitive eyebrows. He was certainly no shrinking violet in his fairly ostentatious choices. His taste for expensive clothing, his trips to Jamaica, Europe and Disney world, the cash paid for his vehicle all led to questions.

His subsequent trial and the response of the jury appear to have answered those questions. After a two-year investigation by an accounting firm and the Ontario Provincial Police, he was arrested in 2013 following his administrative leave from 2010 forward. Charged with theft over $5,000, he pilfered far more than that trifling sum, and the jury that heard all the evidence brought against him was obviously not swayed by his defence.

Superior Court Justice Scott Campbell instructed the jury following closing arguments in the trial, and it took the jury less than two hours to reach their verdict of guilty. Stealing up to $234,000 from Ste.Anne Parish in Tecumseh, Ontario east of Windsor. His sentence is yet to be delivered, but the worse-case scenario for him could conceivably result in ten years' imprisonment.

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