Patriarch guilty on 24 family abuse charges

The Cornwall courthouse at 29 Second Street West. (Newswatch Group/File)

WARNING: The following story contains details of family abuse and may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.

CORNWALL – An 83-year-old man, formerly of South Glengarry, has been found guilty on two dozen charges stemming from a 50 year cycle of family abuse.

The verdict for the man, who can’t been named because of a court-ordered publication ban on the accused and complainants, was delivered by Judge Rick Leroy this morning (Friday) following a trial in late May.

Leroy found him guilty on 24 of the 29 charges he was facing, which included assault, indecent assault, common assault, death threats and mischief. He was found not guilty on single counts of buggery, assault, common assault, careless use or storage of a firearm and assault with a weapon.

In the nearly one hour decision, court heard the sordid tale of the man’s wife and children falling victim to a long-standing cycle of alcohol-fueled abuse and carried on as the family lived in four different homes in Cornwall and South Glengarry during their life together.

The abuse included acts of punching, kicking, poking and pushing. In one case, a child was lifted off the ground by their hair and a child was kicked down a flight of stairs. There were also cases where children were hit with a belt – sometimes with the buckle end.

The incidents happened in the mid-1960s but charges weren’t laid until March 2016. That happened after the wife separated from her husband in 2015 after 52 years of marriage.

There was a 50 year delay in reporting the abuse because “each complainant suggested that he/she was fearful of the accused and punitive repercussions of disclosure…at worst, beating or even death. (The mother) referenced embarrassment,” said Leroy, citing Crown attorney Isabel Blanchard’s position on the case.

Leroy also gave “significant weight” to a partial confession from the man, who had done so in the hopes it would repair his relationship. “The confession is both credible and reliable. Mr. (name) began the interview intending to follow the legal advice he received. It became apparent he was affected by the loss of family. He commented, more than once, the picture depicted by the allegations was ugly…it was his life for 50 years.”

“Mr. (name) held steady employment through this working life but was, in the vernacular, a weekend or time-off alcoholic. When he was not working, he drank. When he drank, bad things happened. He was easily irritated and took it out on his family. That’s why we’re here.”

Following the verdict, the father’s lawyer, Paul Lewandowski, asked for a mental health assessment, a psycho-sexual assessment and a cognitive function assessment before the man’s sentencing.

The case will come back to court in early September for a status check as the assessments could take at least two months to complete. Sentencing will likely take place in October or November.

The man is now living in Ottawa.

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