A Montreal priest who described himself as the bearer of God’s tenderness recently admitted having touched two young men who sought his advice in the 1980s.
It took three decades for the victims to denounce the inappropriate actions of Father Henri Paradis.
The two men, who cannot be identified by court order, saw very bad memories crop up as their own children approached the age they were at the time of the crimes.
The first victim was 18 when she met the clergyman. Her family turned to religion when the matriarch was diagnosed with cancer. In the summer of 1981, the young man presented himself to the Charismatic Center Le Jourdain with his girlfriend at the time.
Separated from her upon his arrival, he found himself alone with Father Paradis, who gave him a long hug.
“Let the Lord dwell in us,” the priest whispered to the victim, bringing his pelvis closer to his. While erect, Henri Paradis rubbed on the young man in a “slow and languid movement”, explained the Crown last month, at the Laval courthouse. The clergyman stopped his actions when the victim asked him what he was doing.
The priest repeated the same modus operandi in 1988 with another 24-year-old man.
The victim’s mother feared that he would “take a wrong turn”, so she introduced him to Father Paradis.
The priest approached the young man at the first opportunity, to kiss him on the neck and stroke his buttocks.
Stunned, the victim tried to free himself from the grip of the man of the Church, but the latter resumed his grip, whispering these words: “It is the tenderness of God which passes through me slowly. “
Thirty years later, Henri Paradis did not remember all these gestures, but he considered “probable and probable” that they occurred. The 74-year-old man therefore pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and indecent assault.
Judging the risk of recidivism to be low, Judge Gilles Garneau sentenced the priest to eight months of house arrest.