Priest gets jail time for sexual assault
A jail sentence is the only way to properly denounce an 82-year-old priest’s actions when he sexually touched a young girl 35 years ago, a Saskatoon judge ruled.
On Thursday, Omer Desjardins was sentenced to six months in jail, plus one year’s probation, for assaulting a 10-year-old girl in 1978. The victim, now 46 years old, reported the assault to police in 2013.
“Sexual abuse of children cannot be tolerated and the sentence of this court must adequately reflect society’s revulsion for such conduct,” Judge Byron Wright said while pronouncing Desjardin’s sentence in Saskatoon provincial court.
Desjardins previously pleaded guilty to indecent assault and sentencing arguments were heard in December, when his lawyer George Green argued for a conditional sentence order, or jail term served in the community.
Wright ruled a conditional sentence was not appropriate, even though the offence was on the lower end of the scale of gravity and Desjardins had no criminal record or other charges in the years since the assault.
Green said his client would be considering an appeal of the sentence.
The assault happened in a small community north of Saskatoon, when he was a guest at the victim’s grandparents’ home one night. The victim was sleeping and he went into her room and sexually touched her. The victim told her grandmother about it the next morning, but her grandmother never told the girl’s mother or followed up on it.
“You deceived me and your crime has affected my life so drastically that it has been a life of pure sadness, hatred and mistrust,” the victim told Desjardins in court during the sentencing hearing in December. “I do not believe there is a God, because you, as a man of God, have taken that from me.”
Desjardins was ordained as a priest in 1958 and worked most recently as chaplain at Saint Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, but he retired in September.