“(Father) Sylvestre, like most predators, had been cunning. His public demonstrativeness cast doubt on anything he might be accused of doing behind closed doors, especially because he was such a powerful and beloved man.”
Father Charlie had curious hands
In an exclusive story for the Star, bestselling novelist Lori Lansens recalls her childhood in Chatham, Ont., and her early encounters with Father Charles Sylvestre, later convicted of abusing dozens of girls.
Author Lori Lansens, pictured at her home in California. “God and Father Charlie were inextricably bound for me then,” she writes, reflecting on her childhood in Chatham, Ont. “That confusing incident in the rectory stole them both, and made me question everything that I’d ever believed.”
By: Lori Lansens Special to the Star, Published on Fri Mar 20 2015….
To hundreds of children during his lengthy residence at St. Ursula’s Parish, the priest was Father Charlie. A charismatic leader with sympathetic eyes, he roamed the hallways of our school and often walked the yard at recess, ready with his warm embrace. Sometimes he came into our classrooms and the teachers would sneak off for a cigarette break — so many of them smoked back then. He’d sit in the teacher’s big chair, gathering us close as we competed for the spot on his lap. I prayed that Father Charlie would favour me, as he clearly seemed to favour certain little girls….
When I was around 10 years old, I began to notice that Father Charlie had curious hands. They wouldn’t rest on a young girl’s shoulder, but encircle her waist or creep up her back, or touch the hair around her collarbone or at the back of her neck. He gave a lot of shoulder massages too. Had he always done that? Had my perception of his touching changed as I’d matured? I felt guilty and ashamed for wondering. He was a priest after all, and so it followed, in my young mind, that he was innocent and naive.
I was in the hallway with one of my Grade 5 classmates when Father Charlie appeared one day, spreading his arms to embrace us as he’d done since we were small children. He complimented my friend, an early bloomer, on her shamrock-patterned T-shirt as I seethed with envy. Then the priest fixed his gaze on her budding breasts and raised his index finger to touch her nipple, slowly tracing a series of shamrock graphics there as I watched in silent horror…..
(Somewhere around Grade 7, rumours had begun to circulate about our beloved Father Charlie. Maybe there had always been rumours and we just hadn’t heard them. Some of the girls had nicknames for him — Father Feeler and Sylvestre the Molester. Lisa and I didn’t believe the talk, which was usually vague and improbable sounding. His awkward affections had just been misunderstood, we insisted.)….
Then we pulled open the closet door to see a hefty, barely concealed collection of Playboy magazines. Lisa and I clutched each other, screaming silently.
A priest with Playboy? We thought it was hilarious. At least that was our first reaction. Then unease set in. The alcohol and the magazines were nothing we hadn’t glimpsed before at the homes of friends with older brothers, but this was Father Charlie….
I stiffened when he stepped up behind me and cringed when he touched a ringlet at my nape. I didn’t dare catch Lisa’s eye. The priest asked us questions as he played with my curls and I pretended not to notice when he pressed his pelvis into my bony upper back, concerned with how embarrassed Father Charlie would be when he realized that his private parts were touching my spine. When he put his big hands on my shoulders and began a too-rough massage, I seized up. His breath reeked of whiskey and made me feel sick.
He told me to relax but I couldn’t let my shoulders down. His hands were digging below my collarbone into the flesh of my tender chest and it hurt. I tried to unclench and felt awful for disappointing him, even as I wondered if it was possible that he was bumping his genitals against my back intentionally…..
I was in my late 30s and living in Toronto when two brave women whose names I knew, one a classmate’s sister, stepped forward, charging that Charles Sylvestre had abused them when they were students at St. Ursula School. The lawsuit against the London Diocese made headline news. The floodgates opened and more victims came forward from St. Ursula, and other parishes too, in a serial abuse career spanning four decades and five parishes. Charles Sylvestre was charged with fondling, digital penetration and rape in cases involving dozens of little girls. In many instances the abuse began when girls were asked to come and fold bulletins at the rectory after school, or to count the collection, or help with a chore. Sometimes he assaulted the children during confession.
Sylvestre, like most predators, had been cunning. His public demonstrativeness cast doubt on anything he might be accused of doing behind closed doors, especially because he was such a powerful and beloved man. The priest pleaded guilty to 47 counts of sexual assault and died a few months into a three-year prison term. But there were many more victims, other women who have come forward and continue to launch lawsuits against the institutions responsible for keeping pedophiles like Charles Sylvestre in positions of power over children…..
Records: Terminated Chi Phi fraternity put pledge in casket
University of Wisconsin cut ties with chapter after hazing incident landed student in hospital
by Rachael Lallensack · Mar 23, 2015
Chi Phi’s once-secret initiation ceremony was the cause for the chapter’s termination, records show.
A Chi Phi fraternity pledge who entered a “ritual casket” during their initiation ceremony went to the hospital after a member “curb stomped” the casket and broke through it, according to records obtained by The Badger Herald. The incident sparked a University of Wisconsin investigation that ultimately led to the fraternity’s March 18 termination.
Committee on Student Organizations unanimously approved Chi Phi’s termination due to hazing violations. CSO’s investigation began after the committee received a report on Jan. 20 with the allegations….
CSO found the fraternity had violated four of 12 items on the Registered Student Organization code of conduct list, three of which prohibit acts of violence, endangerment, sexual assault and substance abuse.
The decision is based off the January report and interviews that the Dean of Students’ office conducted….
The committee found Chi Phi caused “serious physical, psychological and emotional injuries” during its initiation. Among the activities that caused these injuries, CSO cited “food deprivation, stints of hooded isolation, loss of personal liberty, sleeping in a confined attic” and the ritual casket ceremony.
About 20 new members were “crammed” into space in the attic, Knueve said.
“The Committee, without hesitation, found that all aspects of the hazing to be egregious in nature, and unanimously believed that these actions demonstrated severe organizational misconduct,” CSO wrote in its decision. “The physical and emotional harm done to the new members of Chi Phi, whether they agreed to the hazing activities or not, is inexcusable by any standard, and has no place at the University of Wisconsin.”….
Fukuoka bans yakuza finger cutting
By on March 25, 2015
Members of the Dojin-kai are banned from coercing fellow gangsters into cutting off their fingers
FUKUOKA (TR) – Following recent incidents of abuse, the Fukuoka Prefectural Public Safety Commission on Tuesday announced a ban on a ritualistic form of atonement for one of the prefecture’s organized crime groups, reports the Nishi Nippon Shimbun (March 24).
In a meeting with a 41-year-old upper member of the Dojin-kai, whose headquarters is located in Kurume City, the commission said members of the gang would be prohibited from facilitating the removal of a finger of a fellow gangster.
Under the mandate, the act of coercion, whether in a meeting or through telephone or letter, and the provision of a cutting tool are banned acts.
The initiative, based on the Anti-Organized Crime Law enacted in 1991, is a nationwide first. The ban extends for a period of one year.
In the world of organized crime, the finger-cutting custom is a deep-rooted act to show responsibility for a transgression….
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