Priest pleads guilty to 35 of 62 sex-related charges

Published on September 10, 2012
Father George Smith
Photo special to The Guardian by the CBC

Rev. George Smith pleaded guilty Monday in court in Cornerbrook, NL to 35 of 62 sex-related charges against boys.

The retired Roman Catholic priest was accused of sexually abusing young males allegedly victimized nine boys during a 20-year period of serving western Newfoundland parishes.

Smith, who last resided in Truro, N.S., turned himself into the RCMP in Corner Brook late last year.

Smith was serving at St. Malachy’s Parish in Kinkora when the investigation was launched. He stepped down and went to live with a family member in Truro.

He had served in several P.E.I. parishes after transferring from Newfoundland in 1990. All of the charges against Smith involve Newfoundland parishes.

He appeared in Corner Brook Supreme Court on Monday morning. Another eight charges will be dealt with Oct. 1.

The bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador, Reverend Peter J. Hundt, responded to the guilty plea entered in provincial court by Smith, of the former Diocese of St. George's, on charges of sexual misconduct.

"We abhor these crimes," said Hundt. "Such an abuse of power over the young and innocent is wrong and is contrary to the Gospel. We regret the pain, hurt and humiliation suffered by these men; we are praying for God's healing grace for them and for their families."

In May 2010 the diocese received information of the alleged sexual misconduct and contacted the RCMP. Following their investigation the RCMP charged Smith with multiple counts of sexual misconduct between 1969 and 1989.

"Along with these men and their families, the whole Catholic community is wounded by such sins committed against the young and the vulnerable. It is a crime that leaves us all in need of healing," said Hundt.

"But if we are a wounded Church and people, we are also a Church and people who believe in, and are committed to working for healing and forgiveness. My door is open and I will gladly offer whatever pastoral support I can to the victims and their families to help them come to terms with their pain and grief."