CORNER BROOK, N.L. – One of George Ansel Smith's victims was once offered a seat at Memorial University's medical school.
But his low self-esteem and the stress and anxiety he still felt from being allegedly abused by the former Roman Catholic priest about a decade before, prevented him from pursuing his dream career.
This is just one glimpse into how 13 men feel their lives were ruined at the hands of Smith, who sexually assaulted them when they were young boys while Smith was a parish priest in their communities.
Smith, who pleaded guilty to 41 charges of sexual assault, indecent assault and assault, was in Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in Corner Brook for a sentencing hearing Wednesday. So were several of his victims, who were given the opportunity to tell Smith how his actions so long ago continue to affect them to this day.
Smith was serving at St. Malachy's Parish in Kinkora, P.E.I. when the investigation was launched. He had served in several P.E.I. parishes after transferring from Newfoundland in 1990.
However, all of the charges against Smith involve Newfoundland parishes.
The offences in Newfoundland occurred over a nearly 20-year period from 1969 to 1989. Some of the assaults happened while Smith was escorting boys on trips to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The incidents ranged from kissing and fondling of genitals to incidents of oral sex and anal penetration.
In an agreed statement of facts read into the record by Crown attorney Trina Simms, the court heard how some victims experienced isolated incidents of less serious assaults, while others experienced repeated and more serious offences over the course of months or even years.
In many of the cases, Smith invited the boys - some of whom were altar boys - to his home for overnight visits, then plied them with alcohol or other gifts before assaulting them. In some cases, Smith would give his victims money or allow them to drive his car.
Some described passing out and waking to find Smith sexually assaulting them. Others described pretending to be asleep while the assaults were taking place.
Only three of the 13 victims read their victim impact statements in open court.
"The impact is immeasurable and it doesn't stop," Simms said.
Holding a crucifix that Smith had given him some 35 years ago, a victim told the court he has renounced his Catholic faith.
During a break in the hearing, he said wanted to give Smith his crucifix back. He could not give the cross to Smith in person, since Smith is in custody, but the victim said he will try to find a way to send the crucifix to the disgraced clergyman.
"The cross has proven to be too much to bear, so I will be returning this cross to George Smith and let him bear the cross for a little while," said the man.
Simms asked Justice William Goodridge to sentence Smith to between nine and 13 years in prison while defence lawyer Tom Williams argued that Smith should be given seven to nine years, minus the one year he has already served in custody.
Goodridge will sentence the priest March 14.