A 75-year old former New Brunswick priest has been acquitted of sexual misconduct against a minor. The priest, who is called Yvon Arsenault, proved his innocence, after pleading not guilty to gross indecency against a young boy in Shediac, between 1 January 1970, and 31 December 1973. This is after the judge presiding over the case, Justice Jean-Paul Oullette, found out that there were lots of contradictions, and memory lapses, is the testimony of the complainant. The complainant, whose name has been withheld for privacy reasons, told the court that the defendant abused him by touching, and having oral sex with him, in a boys club in Shediac.
The judge also based his decision on testimony by the complainant’s former teacher, Anita Pellerin. In his defense, the former priest asserted that he never supervised the after-school boys club, and only visited the club to speak with volunteers, of course, in the company of other people. However, the priest admitted to having teased the kids with words, but never went to the extent of touching them sexually. The furthest he went was to tap the children on the shoulder. Mr Arsenault claimed that he didn’t know, or remember, the complainant. Alison Menard, the priest’s lawyer, was relieved after learning that his client had been acquitted of the assault. She commended the judge, by saying that justice had been served the way it was supposed to.
Arsenault, who served as a priest in Shediac, Bouctouche, Moncton, and other communities in New Brunswick, is not new to controversy. In 2017, the priest was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly touching young boys in the 1970s. This sentence is what prompted the complainant to sue the priest, having seen his nephew commit suicide in 1992, after the latter was sexually abused. Despite the acquittal, the former priest will continue serving his current four-year prison term.