Randy Engel
A Documentary: Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus – The anatomy of a takeover bid, Part III
Five cases of sex abuse by Knights
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By Randy Engel
May 10, 2024

Jim Dennany vs. Knights of Columbus

The Jim Dennany Sex Abuse Case Federal lawsuit, Case No.: 10-CV-1961, and the John Doe No. 1 [Hector Stone] Case No. 3:10–CV–1960 (CSH)., Plaintiffs, vs Knights of Columbus, Defendant, was filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn. on December 14, 2010.[1]

Both the forty-nine-year old Jim Dennany and 42-year-old John Doe No. 1, later identified as Hector Stone, were young Knights Squires at the time of their sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. Each case is treated separately below.

The well-known attorney Jeffrey Herman of the Miami-based law firm, Herman, Mermelstein & Horowitz, represented both the 49-year-old plaintiff, Jim Dennany, and John Doe No.1, [Hector Stone]. James S. Needham, Kevin J. O’Connor, Bracewell & Giuliani, LLP, Hartford, Conn. represented the Knights of Columbus.

The Dennany lawsuit claimed that in 1973, when Jim Dennany was 12 years old, the youth was invited to join the Brownsville Texas Squires. The plaintiff stated that both his father and grandfather were members of the Knights of Columbus, and he was excited about becoming a Squire.

Dennany came under the tutorial supervision of Juan “Julian” Rivera, the adult Knight leader of the Columbian Squires’ Circle. On a Squires’ overnight trip to Houston, Texas, Dennany and Rivera stayed at the same hotel and slept in the same bed. The latter provided the plaintiff with alcohol and marijuana. Rivera also showed Dennany pornography which graduated in explicitness to include homosexual acts. Rivera pressed the plaintiff into acts of mutual masturbation. The sexual abuse continued unabated from 1973 to 1977 when Dennany was about sixteen years old.

The sexual abuse took place on locations where Squires events were held including the local Knights of Columbus hall, and Rivera’s office and apartment, as well as other locations in Texas and Mexico.

According to the lawsuit, Rivera made no attempt to hide his close relationships with particular young boys like Dennany. Yet, not a single Knight made any effort to investigate the situation or warn and/or protect the boy from his abuser.

Lawyers for the plaintiff charged that “the Columbian Squires had at all relevant times, knowledge of Rivera’s history of sexual perversity and inappropriate contacts with children.... And that the Knights of Columbus actively concealed information that was pertinent and necessary for Dennany to bring civil claims in this matter…in order to protect itself from civil liability and scandal.”

“As a direct and proximate result of the Knights of Columbus acts and omissions, Dennany suffered severe and permanent physical and psychological injuries including, but not limited to, guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-blame, depression, chemical dependency, and lack of trust.” The lawsuit also stated that in 1986, another boy [Hector Stone, aka John Doe 1 who was unnamed in suit] told Knights officials he was also abused by Rivera, but that the Knights concealed the report of abuse and intimidated the victim into not making the abuse public.

The lawsuit sought more than $5 million in damages. The plaintiff demanded a jury trial in this action on all claims so triable.

Hector Stone vs. Knights of Columbus

The Hector Stone Case No. 3:10–CV–1960 (CSH); JOHN DOE NO. 1, Plaintiff, vs. KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS, Defendant, was filed at the same time as the Dennany case on December 14, 2010. Two days after the lawsuit was filed by Attorney Jeffrey Herman, the 42-year-old “John Doe,” who was undergoing treatment in Kansas, broke his anonymity at a press conference in Brownsville, Texas, and revealed his true name, Hector Stone. He stated that he was currently residing at a rehabilitation center in Kansas for treatment of chemical addictions, nightmares, depression, and suicidal tendencies.

Squire Stone endured the same grooming techniques and homosexual acts that Julian Rivera inflicted upon young Dennany. On one occasion, Rivera placed a handgun by Stone’s side to make him comply with a homosexual act and warned the Squire that he must never tell anyone what was happening to him. On several occasions, to keep the boy silent and in line, Rivera told the boy he would kill his family if he reported the abuse, or that he would cut off the boy’s penis and send it to his mother in a jar. The alleged perpetrator also supplied Stone with money for clothing and for dating girls in order to deflect any suspicion that the young boy might be involved in homosexual activities.

Stone was abused by Julian Rivera for six years from ages 12 to 18.

The lawsuit also claimed that Rivera “shared” Stone with another adult leader of the Squires in another city who also sexually abused him. This would indicate that a criminal pederast ring existed between certain Knights who preyed on young boys.

According to Attorney Herman, “From what my clients have shared I’m very concerned that this was not isolated.” “The victims would tell me that they would go to the statewide conferences, and they would be paraded around like they were the boyfriends of the leaders.”[2]

The great difference between the Dennany and the Stone cases, however, is that while Jim Dennany had kept his sexual abuse a secret for decades, Stone’s lawsuit charged that in 1986, when he (Stone) learned that Rivera was still an active Knight and leader of the Squires’ group, he took action and filed a complaint against Rivera with the Brownsville Texas Knights of Columbus.

According to Stone’s attorney “his client contacted some of the officers of the Knights of Columbus to try and get some help and stop the sexual abuse from happenings to other boys, but he (Stone) was “shut down.” No action was taken by the Knights/Squires leaders or the Dechant administration.

From this statement we know this much – that as early as 1986, if not before, the Brownsville Knights leadership (and most certainly the New Haven National headquarters of the Knights and its Supreme officer, Virgil Dechant) knew that there was a sexual abuse problem existed in the Brownsville Columbian Squires that needed to be addressed immediately.

That never happened.

In fact, the Knights leadership in New Haven under the Anderson administration even denied they ever knew anything about Stone’s 1986 complaint.

According to Patrick Korten, Senior Vice President of the Knights of Columbus National office, Stone’s sexual abuse by Julian Rivera’s only became known to the National office when Stone contacted the Knights for financial help in dealing with the aftereffects of his childhood sexual abuse in December 2009, before his lawsuit was filed in December 2010. Korten stated that “We acted immediately, removing him [Rivera] from any responsibility involving youth programs, and referring the case to Brownsville law enforcement authorities." Note that the Knights did not expel Julian Rivera who left the Knights on his own accord in January 2010 and was never prosecuted for his crimes.[3] Brownsville police spokesman Eddie Garcia stated that his office had no immediate information about the case.[4] The lawsuit sought more than $5 million in damages. The plaintiff demanded a jury trial in this action on all claims so triable.

Knights Commit Fraud in Stone Case?

As noted above, it was twenty-three-years later, in December 2009, that Hector Stone again reported his years of sexual abuse by Rivera to officers of the Knights of Columbus – this time to the Anderson administration. At this time he was contacted by the Supreme Advocate and chief legal counsel of the Knights’ headquarters in New Haven.

Stone told the Knights’ lawyer that he was chemically dependent as a result of drugs he used as a prelude to having sex with Rivera, and he wanted to enter a treatment program. He asked the Knights to help pay for the treatment. The Supreme Advocate agreed.

Stone’s lawsuit states that during his conversation with the Knights’ lawyer, there was never any discussion of any other payment other than financial aid for treatment. At no time were Stone’s legal claims against the Knights’ addressed or waived. Nor was there any talk of payment from the Knights to settle that claim.

On December 23, 2009, Knights of Columbus agent John A. Mahon and his wife met with Stone and gave him $200 to pay for travel expenses to the rehabilitation facility. The agent gave Stone the money and had him sign a receipt for the cash. A second single sheet of paper was then given to Doe to sign to acknowledge that the Knights of Columbus would pay for the treatment. Stone agreed and signed the paper. Conveniently, the Knights’ agent’s wife was a notary, and she notarized the document.

One week later, Stone received a package in the mail containing the receipt note and the single sheet he signed to which was attached an eight-page document he had never seen.

The attachment was a Settlement Agreement and a Full Release absolving the Knights of Columbus of any claims against the corporation by Hector Stone. The Knights claimed Stone with knowledge and forethought had waived all his legal rights in exchange for the payment of his treatment. Stone denied that he had ever signed away his legal rights to bring action against the Knights.

The Knights contend that between December 2009 and December 2010, payments for the plaintiff's treatment and other benefits were, in fact substantial, — "in excess of $120,000."

Stone’s December 14, 2010 lawsuit included a refutation of the Knights’ Settlement and Release document and charged the Knights with fraud and deception. The lawsuit sought more than $5 million in damages. The plaintiff demanded a jury trial in this action on all claims so triable.

Attorneys for the Defense charged that the lawsuit failed to identify the boy who made the report, the names of the Knight officials who received it and how the organization concealed the report.

Abuse Cases Against Knights Moves On

On March 15, 2011, Attorneys James S. Needham and Kevin J. O’Connor for the Knights of Columbus under the Anderson Administration moved to have both the Dennany and the Stone Cases dismissed based on the statutes of limitation laws which establish a time period after which sexual abuse victims are prevented by law from suing.

Dennany v. Knights of Columbus, No. 3:2010cv01961 was heard by District Judge Stefan R. Underhill in New Haven on August 10, 2011.

The Knights’ attorneys argued that Dennany’s negligence action is barred by both Texas’ and Connecticut’s statute of limitations. And that it is uncontested that Texas, not Connecticut, has the most significant relationship to the case as the plaintiff is a Texas resident, the abuse allegedly occurred in Texas, and the Plaintiff and defendant’s relationship has been based entirely in Texas.

Attorneys Horowitz, Mernelstein, and McNamara argued for the Plaintiff that the Knights of Columbus was aware that adult supervisors of the Squires were in a position where they could sexually abuse children; they knew Rivera was a sexual predator; and that they tried to conceal that knowledge.

Regarding the statutes of limitations, the lawyers argued that the limitations period should be tolled because Knights fraudulently concealed its negligence, and both Texas and Connecticut recognize fraudulent concealment as a basis for tolling statutes of limitations.

After the arguments were heard, Underhill ruled that Dennany was aware of his abuse and could have filed a nearly identical complaint at any point after 1979, the date his injury occurred. He ruled that Dennany’s complaint lacks the particularity required by Rule 9(b) for a claim of fraudulent concealment. The judge also found that the attorneys for the plaintiff had offered no definitive arguments that would support the overriding of the statutes of limitation. Therefore, Dennany was not entitled to a tolling of the statute of limitations.

Judge Underhill declared that the Knight of Columbus was not negligent in their responsibilities toward the plaintiff and that the organization was not aware of the alleged sexual abuse in the Squires until John Doe contacted the Knights’ National office in 2009.

Underhill GRANTED the Knights’ Motion to Dismiss and ordered the clerk to close the file on Dennany vs. Knights of Columbus, No. 3:2010-CV-01961(SRU). He also ruled that the Court DECLINED to permit Dennany leave to re-plead his case.

Judge Haight Motion to Dismiss John Doe Case Denied

The Motion to Dismiss by the Knights of Columbus on the John Doe [Hector Stone] Case was heard on March 12, 2013, by Senior District Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. The case, as we shall see, took a different turn than the Dennany case because Hector was approximately seven years younger than Jim Dennany.

The Plaintiff, John Doe No. 1 set forth two counts. (1) the first for KOC’s alleged failure to ensure Plaintiff’s safety and well-being while he was in the custody and care of the Squires, particularly, inter alia, by failing in its duties of “placement, retention and supervision of Rivera as adult leader, and (2) declaratory relief a request for declaratory judgment that Plaintiff relied on the intentional, fraudulent misrepresentation of a KOC agent to execute the signatory page later attached to the document entitled “Settlement Agreement and Full Release, rendering the Release void in that KOC procured it “by fraud.”

Defendant sets forth three basis for dismissal: (1) Plaintiff claim for negligence is barred by the Texas two-year statute of limitations; (2) Plaintiff failed to plead the required element of “foreseeability” to maintain a negligence action, and (3) Plaintiff failed to state a claim for fraud and misrepresentation with respect to Defendant’s procurement of the Release (a) Plaintiff was not justified in relying on the alleged misrepresentations of KOC’s agent when Plaintiff signed the Release, and (b) Plaintiff ratified the Release as a matter of law.

The Defendant also requests “a separate trial” (Bifurcate) on each of the two counts.

Judge Haight Rules on Statutes of Limitations

On the matter of statutes of limitations, Judge Haight ruled in favor of John Doe under the more liberal statutes of Connecticut stating that while the abuse occurred in Texas, the policies, programs, and control of the Squires programs were dictated by the National office of the Knights in New Haven, Conn. The Court, therefore, applied Connecticut’s 30 year statutes of limitations rather than Texas’ more restrictive law. As the Plaintiff brought his action in 2010, 24-years later, Doe was within the 30-year period prescribed by the state. Judge Haight dismissed the Knights Motion to Dismiss with respect to the statutes of limitations.

Next, Judge Haight ruled on the issue of Foreseeability in Negligence, that is, the claim by the Knights of Columbus that the injuries suffered by Doe at the hands of Rivera were not foreseeable.

Again, the judge ruled in favor of John Doe stating that the Knights had a duty to protect minors in its programs and the organization did not fulfill that duty.

I am going to quote a large section of Judge Haight’s opinion, not so much because of its legal relevance, but because of the revelation of mindset of the top leadership of the Knights of Columbus on the issue of the sexual abuse of minors that the opinion provides:

    After careful consideration, I find that the risk, foreseeability, and likelihood of injury to Plaintiff by Rivera were all of notable magnitude. That Rivera’s conduct—plying Plaintiff with drugs and alcohol, subjecting him to pornography, sexually abusing him, and threatening him into silence with a handgun—had no “social utility” is self-evident.

    Moreover, the magnitude of KOC’s burden to guard against Plaintiff’s injury was manageable in light of the location of much of the abuse, KOC’s hall and events, and KOC’s massive size and numerous resources. Unscheduled supervisory visits by KOC officials to meetings and events and/or interviews with Squires would have sufficiently monitored Rivera’s leadership. Under such circumstances, KOC should not be allowed to profess ignorance of Rivera’s activities in the Brownsville Squires to excuse KOC’s failure to prevent abuse, especially where much of the alleged abuse occurred at KOC meetings and events. Just as a multi-national corporation cannot disclaim any and all liability for conduct committed in its outlying offices and locations, neither should an organization of KOC’s sophistication, size, and organized structure be allowed to avoid liability by claiming an inability to supervise those running its programs at satellite locations.

    Finally, considering public policy factors — [as] the Squires were minors, ranging in age, by Plaintiff’s account, from 10 to 18 years old, KOC had a particular duty to ensure their welfare in the program. KOC recruited the boys to assist in “developing their leadership qualities” and “supporting the Roman Catholic Church…” Furthermore, “[a] Columbian Squires unit [was required to] operate within the structure and regulations of the [KOC].” Once minor boys became members of the Squires program in Brownsville, KOC should have supervised their activities and leadership to ensure the boys’ welfare and determine whether the Squires were in fact operating according to KOC regulations.

    Children, as vulnerable members of society, are owed greater care than their adult counterparts, who, in contrast, possess the maturity necessary to remove themselves from harmful situations. … Moreover, “organizations whose primary function is the care and education of children owe a higher duty to their patrons to exercise care in the selection of their employees than would other employers.

Based on these preliminary findings, the Knights’ motion to dismiss for failure to adequately plead foreseeability in its negligence action was denied.

Knights’ Request to Bifurcate Approved

In reviewing the Defendant’s claim that Joe Doe, that is, Hector Stone, signed away his right to sue the Knights for his injuries when he asked and received financial aid from the organization in 2009-2010 for treatment at a rehabilitation facility, Judge Haight opined that the majority of facts pertaining to the validity of the Release, especially the testimony regarding negotiations and signing of the Release, are separate and distinct from the facts relevant to Plaintiff’s negligence claim stemming from his alleged sexual abuse by Rivera. By separating the issue of the validity of the Release from the potentially emotional and graphic evidence of sexual abuse, the judge said he hoped to minimize the likelihood that the jury will be prejudiced or influenced in considering the separate issues to be adjudicated.

Thus, the Court ruled in favor of segregated trials: The validity of the Release will be addressed first, both in discovery and subsequently, if necessary, at trial. Should the Release be held invalid—that is, procured fraudulently via misrepresentations by KOC’s agent—the remaining discovery and trial on the negligence claim will follow. Should the Release be held valid, the case will be terminated.

A date of on or before March 22, 2013, was set by the Court for both parties to confer and submit their joint recommendations for updated case deadlines for discovery and trial of Count Two, regarding the validity of the Release. Both parties were also reminded that they may wish to consider waiving a jury with respect to the bifurcated trial of Count Two, and consent to a bench trial on that issue.

Knight/Squire Fagan Sex Abuse Case

In the summer of 1984, 25-year-old layman Steve Fagan, a member of the Knights of Columbus. member of Our Lady of Fatima (OLF) Squires in Ottawa, Ontario; State Chairman for the Ontario Columbian Squires; and a leader in the Provincial Board of Ontario Squires, sexually abused 14-year old Squire Todd Marinacci.[5] Fagan had traveled with a group of OLF Squires from Ottawa to attend the ordination of Fr. Paul Hamilton in Kingston, Ontario. The young Squire Marinacci, who came from another corner of the province, was also in attendance at the ordination.

Fagan was arrested in the late fall of 2013 and confessed to his crime at that time, as he had on two prior occasions. He had already been expelled from the Knights in late 1992 or early 1993. Sentencing occurred in an Ontario courtroom on October 19. 2014.

The Crown’s prosecutor sought a six-month jail term, a two-year probation and his registration as a sex offender. Instead Fagan received a suspended sentence and a 24- month probation. He was also ordered to register with the Offenders Information Registry. The presiding judge was told that Fagan was presently in a committed adult relationship presumably with another male. Marinacci was present at the sentencing.

Despite efforts by SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) to get Supreme Knight Carl Anderson to conduct and finance an outreach program to contact other possible victims of Fagan, especially among young Squire members, Knights officials did nothing, a pattern seen in other Knight abuse cases as well.

Todd Marinacci, now in his 50s, did bring a lawsuit against the Knights of Columbus and won an out of court financial settlement, the amount of which remained secret.

It is unclear if the Fagan case was included in the two 1990s “secret” sex abuse cases found in the Knights of Columbus archives by Knights attorney Kevin O’Connor in 2010 when the Dennany and Joe Doe [Hector Stone] cases were being litigated.

Squire Turned Predator – The Barry McGrory Case[6]

The extraordinary Father William Barry McGrory sex abuse saga which took place over a forty year period in Ottawa, Canada, is unusual in that the perpetrator of the sexual crimes was himself a former teen Columbian Squire and officer of the Unity Circle No. 55 overseen by the leaders of Ottawa Council 485 founded in 1900 as an extension of the American-based Knights of Columbus. Whether McGrory himself was a victim of early sexual abuse by an adult homosexual member of the Knight of Columbus or Squires Circle is not known, but should be considered a distinct possibility.

Please Note that almost all the references used in this segment were taken from Sylvia MacEachern’s monumental work on the McGrory Case unless noted otherwise.[7]

Father Barry McGrory was born in 1935 in Ottawa, Ontario, the capital city of Canada. He studied for the priesthood in Rome at the Thomas Aquinas University where he earned his PhD in Theology and was ordained in 1960 for the Archdiocese of Ottawa. McGrory taught at Bishop’s University, Lennoxville (Quebec), St. Paul University (Ottawa) and the Grand Seminary on Kilborn Ave. in Ottawa.

He served at various local parishes including Holy Cross Church where he became a high-profile peace and social justice advocate, and later at St. Philip Parish in Richmond.

McGrory, a self-admitted “sex addict,” suffered from an inordinate attraction to adolescent boys and girls especially the former. Retrospectively, we know that following his ordination during the late 1960s and well into the 1970s he was sexually assaulting young vulnerable male and female victims although his crimes were not adjudicated until the early 21 century.

While at Holy Cross Parish in the 1970s, McGrory molested two adolescent girls. In 2016, the Archdiocese of Ottawa settled out of court with the two women. One victim, Colleen Passard, who struggled relentlessly for years to expose the clerical predator, received a record-breaking $300,000 payment from the archdiocese.

In the mid-1980s, McGrory allegedly informed his superior Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde (January 1967 – 1989) of his criminal sexual propensities and requested treatment, but instead the archbishop shuffled him off to a remote Toronto Catholic Mission site where, in 1991, he sexually assaulted a 17-year- old Indigenous youth. In August of 1993, McGrory was charged with the assault, for which he received a suspended sentence, with a warning that if he violated the terms of his probation he would be jailed.

The petition to dismiss the priest from the clerical state was initiated later by Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J. of Ottawa, and McGrory was laicized by Pope Francis in the fall of 2018.

Defrocked McGory Faces New Charges

In April of 2019, Mr. Barry McGrory was brought to trial for sexually abusing two young male teens in the late 1960s [the third complainant died before the case came to trial]. McGrory, pleaded not guilty.

Complainant J.B. now age 66, testified at the trial that he was 15 years old when McGrory forced him into oral sex. The priest formed a trusting relationship with the young man’s guardians who gave McGrory a key to their home which he used to gain access to the boy’s second-floor bedroom and continued to molest the boy for a year.

Complainant R.G. was an altar boy at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church where McGrory ran a youth group (Squires?] and organized football games. In 1969, the boy said, his father died, and his mother was diagnosed with cancer and McGrory briefly moved in to help look after the family.

On one occasion, after the priest moved to St. Philip Church, R.G. and his friends visited the priest at the rectory where the boy was given a beer and became sick. He went to rest in an upstairs bedroom. McGrory gave him “aspirin” to help his migraine and later sexually molested him. At the trial, R.G. testified that he eventually went to inform Archbishop Plourde of his abuse. He eventually was promised that McGrory would be removed from the priesthood and given a financial settlement which also contained a gag clause binding him to silence. He broke that silence in 2016 when abuse charges against McGrory became public.

The Crown prosecuting attorney asked the judge to impose a six-or seven year prison sentence on McGrory, but McGrory’s Defense attorney argued that his client was too old and frail and suffered with early stages of Alzheimer to endure a jail term. Several former parishioners testified in favor of McGrory stating that he was a good and holy priest.

Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin of the Odanak First Nation, the first Abenakise judge in Canada, didn’t buy the “mercy” plea and delivered a guilty verdict on June 24, 2019. She was scheduled to deliver McGrory’s sentence on November 18, 2019, but he skipped his court appearance. Judge O’Bonsawin issued an arrest warrant and Mr. McGrory was apprehended the next month in Toronto.

Mr. William Barry McGrory, former Knights of Columbus Squire, died on August 13, 2020 while being held in custody at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.

The Justin Coulombe Case

The Justin G.S. Georges Stephen Coulombe pederasty case hit the Canadian scene in 2017, but it had been simmering for more than a decade.

Born in 1984, the young Coulombe came from a fairly well-to-do Canadian Catholic family. He was sent to the States at age 13 to attend the elite, Episcopalian-based grades 7-12 boarding school of St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy [Academies] in Delafield, Wisconsin. At the time of his graduation he had attained the rank of Cadet Colonel and was Commanding Officer of the Academy’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. The Academy’s stated mission is to foster and “strengthen character;” to promote “academic success;” to help form young men who are “physically and mentally fit,” and leaders of the community goals not unlike the Columbian Squires.[8]

In retrospect, however, given the fact that young Coulombe admits to engaging in homosexual acts with willing peers at the Academy soon after his enrollment, an all-male boarding school far from home, was probably not the best choice for him.

Thanks to the now defunct Western Catholic Reporter which was the popular weekly diocesan newspaper for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta,[9] we do have some important knowledge of Coulombe’s Catholicism and religious aspirations after he left Northwestern.

On September 27, 2004, WCR staff writer Ramon Gonzalez was sent to report on an annual vocations workshop held at Camp Oselia, a retreat center of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparachy of Edmonton just 45 minutes west of Edmonton. It is not without a touch of irony, that Camp Oselia is most famous for its round-the-season youth programs and facilities. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Eparachy and the Archdiocese of Edmonton under the office of the Alberta Vocation Directors’ Executive.

Gonzalez titled his article, “A young man’s dilemma “‘What kind of father am I called to be?’” The quote was taken from a 20-year old attendee seeking information on the Catholic priesthood who was featured in the WCR interview. The young man’s name was Justin Georges Coulombe.

Coulombe told the Gonzalez that he had felt a call to the priesthood since he was seven years old, but was torn between being a priest and being a family man with children of his own. He said he felt he was “meant to work with children,” but his attendance at the Camp Oselia had convinced him to become a priest. He added that he was in contact with various religious orders and might join the Spiritan Fathers because “they work with youth of all ages.”

Coulombe told Gonzalez he was a member of the historic St. Joachim Parish, the heart of the Francophone Catholic in the Oliver section of Edmonton, and a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus, which was quite an accomplishment for one so young.[10] He informed the WCR reporter that he was also a youth counselor for the Columbian Squires, and was busy setting up the first French Columbian Squire Circle west of Winnipeg, Manitoba. At the end of the interview Coulombe indicated that he was still in college finishing his Bachelor’s degree, but didn’t name the institution.

Although we know that Coulombe never became a priest, one of the quirky features of his case is that, for many years, Coulombe disguised himself as a Catholic priest wearing full clerical garb including black pants with a full-collared shirt, and a red-trimmed black cassock, and black biretta with red tuft.

When he lived in Langley, B.C., Coulombe was reported to be involved with the U.S.-based Vatican in Exile, a small group located in Topeka, Kansas, headed by David Allen Bawden, aka “Pope Michael.” This writer contacted the organization and received a very polite and prompt response. According to Bawden, Coulombe approached him in 2014-2015 and claimed among other things to be a Monsignor, but Bawden discovered none of his claims were true and ended the connection. He had no information on any connections between Coulombe and the Old Catholic Church which is “inclusive” and accepts active homosexuals.

As for Coulome’s regular occupations while living in Langley, in the neighboring province of British Columbia, he worked for LandSea Camp and Catering Services, Ltd., a firm providing land-based and floating workforce accommodations for construction and mining crews.

Coulombe Arrested for Child Exploitation

In 2017, six months after the 33-year-old Coulombe moved back to Edmonton, a police investigation was begun by the Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit of the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT).

The investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by the mother of one of the two teen male victims, both under 16, who notified the police when she discovered that her underage son was in a long-term sexually graphic internet relationship with Coulombe which had led to an actual homosexual relationship with the alleged perpetrator. The second youth also had an internet sexual relationship with Coulombe, but there was no physical contact as yet.

Coulombe was initially arrested by the ICE on Wednesday, July 27, 2017, in Edmonton. The police had a search warrant and seized multiple electrical devices all carrying underage pornography from his Edmonton home. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also found another of Coulombe’s laptops at his old house in Langley, with more child porn on it.

Coulombe was charged with eight counts including sexual interference with a child, sexual assault, the making and possession of child pornography and extortion. He was held until August 1st and then released on bail from police custody under restricted court conditions with a new bail hearing set for August 21, 2017.

But only two days later, on August 3, 2017, Coulombe was re-arrested when an additional two of his alleged victims filed sexual abuse complaints with the Alberta police. Five more counts were added to the original charges including sexual interference and sexual touching, bringing the total count to 13. When he appeared briefly in court on August 8, with no lawyer, the judge insisted on his obtaining legal counsel. The Crown then moved to revoke his previous bail ruling and prevent any future bail attempts.

Campaigner for “Pederast” Rights

Part of the Alberta police’s investigation included an inquiry into his social media accounts in which he advertised himself as a “virtuous pedophile,” and promoted “pedophile’s rights.” Despite the fact that his pro-child-molestation diatribes were reported and suspended multiple times, the Alberta police representative stated they took no action because no one filed a formal complaint with their office.[11]

In 2018, Coulombe was sentenced to a seven-year prison term. Since he had been held in custody since July 2017, he was given enhanced credit for time served and is expected to be released very soon. He will be placed on the sex offender registry for life and has a lifetime ban on using the internet and any association with youth under the age of 16.

Archdiocese and Knights Take No Action

It is significant that the Edmonton Archdiocese claimed that although Coulombe posed as a priest, he was never ordained for the archdiocese or any diocese in Canada and the United States and that he had no connection whatsoever with the Catholic Church. This was not true since as a young man Coulombe played an active role in the Knights of Columbus and the Squires – a relationship which, once again, was exposed and documented by Canadian investigator Sylvia MacEachern , not by the Archdiocese of Edmonton or the Canadian Knights of Columbus or the U.S. Knights of Columbus leadership.

For the record, in none of the cases documented above did the Knights leadership do a follow-up investigation by issuing a letter of query to past Canadian Squire members urging anyone who might have been sexually assaulted by Coulombe in the early 2000s to come forward.

Knights Abandon Squires Program

The reader will note that on January 1, 2016, the leadership of the Knights of Columbus officially announced that it was discouraging the formation of any new Squire Circles in the U.S. and Canada on the alleged grounds that youth activities should be moved from exclusive clubs into local parish youth groups. The Knights’s PDF file on the guide to Squires Circle Guide had already been removed on May 23, 2013.[12]

For the record, the Knights have consistently sided with Church lawyers and the USCCB in opposition to extending the statute of limitation in sex abuse cases involving minors.

In a 2006 Columbia magazine article titled “Stand up for the Church,” efforts to extend the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases are criticized and condemned. These measures are said “to prolong the sexual abuse crisis, allowing allegations with very little or no supporting evidence.” The aim of such laws is to cripple the Church financially,” the article said.

Although the Knights of Columbus have been the target of several state and federal class-action suits,[13] the cases of the sexual abuse of minors by adult Knights, including those documented in this study represent a completely different scenario.

Over the last forty years, despite the endless rhetoric and hype about being first and foremost a Catholic prolife institution, where have the Knights’ councils, state offices and Supreme Council and the Supreme Knight been in terms of advocating for the thousands of victims of clerical and lay sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and of providing victims with legal, financial and moral support as they seek justice and restitution from Church and/or Civil authorities for the crimes that have ravaged them in body, mind, and soul?

The answer is nowhere! And that dear reader is a tragedy of the first degree for the Knights.

(To be continued)

____________________

[1] Dennany v. Knights of Columbus, No. 3:10cv1961 (SRU) | Casetext Search + Citator.

[2] Legal troubles for Knights – Yale Daily News.

[3] Brownsville Man at Center of Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal, by Mary Avila, Valley Central, December 15, 2010 (bishop-accountability.org).

[4] Men allege sexual abuse at Brownsville Knights of Columbus (mysanantonio.com).

[5] Fagan: Steven Fagan | Sylvia's Site (theinquiry.ca); Squire molester | Sylvia's Site (theinquiry.ca).

[6] McGrory: Barry McGrory | Sylvia's Site (theinquiry.ca).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Home – St. John's Northwestern Academies (sjnacademies.org).

[9] The WCR ceased publication on September 26, 2016.

[10] The first Knights of Columbus council in Alberta, Father Bonner Council 7599, was formed in Alberta and the Northwest Territories on January 5, 1907 in Edmonton.

[11] “Campaigner for ‘Pedophile’s Rights Caught Raping Children Disguised as a Priest,” Exposing government, December 23, 2017.

[12] From the Desk of Supreme Knight Car, “Our Service to Youth,” January 1, 2016.

[13] On January 6, 1993, a group of current and former insurance agents of the Knights filed a class-action lawsuit against the Order in Los Angeles, Calif. The plaintiffs claimed that the Knights, a 501(c)(8) tax-exempt not-for-profit entity had: Misused proceeds from insurance funds for charitable purposes; denied agents the benefits promised to them before they signed contracts to work for the Knights and illegally restricted agents’ rights to sell other insurance. The complaint charged that the Knights insurance premiums are vastly subsidizing the fraternal (charitable) aspect of the organization to the detriment of the insured…policyholders. In 2002, Kippes, et al. v, Knights of Columbus et al.; Civil Action No. 96-C-4789, District Court, Sedgwick County, Kansas, and related cases, Knights entered into a $23 million settlement on behalf of a class of policyholders sold “vanishing premium” policies, that is, the policy holders were incorrectly advised by Knight agents that after they paid policy premium for a number of years, the paid premiums would earn enough money so that the policy holder no longer has to pay premiums out of pocket. In these and similar financial/corporate litigations, the Supreme Council has successfully either obtained a dismissal of the claims brought against it or settled the remaining claims on favorable terms.

© Randy Engel

 

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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)

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