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Independent report concludes that priest Johannes Rivoire hid his past from his superiors

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Johannes Rivoire arrived in Nunavut in the 1960s and he returned to France in 1993.

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An independent report aimed at shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the departure of French priest Johannes Rivoire from the country, accused of sex crimes against Inuit children, concludes that “ecclesiastical authorities in Nunavut neither concealed nor organized the 1993 flight of Johannes Rivoire from Canada to France. »

The independent investigation was entrusted by the congregations of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Lacombe Canada and of the Oblates of the Province of France to the retired judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, André Denis.

I went to Marseille, Lyon, Ottawa, Winnipeg, to the Heritage Center of the Saint-Boniface Historical Society, to Nunavut and to Montreal where I consulted all the archives I needed, writes the latter, in preamble to his report.

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André Denis, retired judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, was mandated to carry out the report on Johannes Rivoire.

Following his investigation, the retired judge concludes that Johannes Rivoire committed the sexual assaults on five minor children in Naujaat, Nunavut between 1968 and 1970 and on a minor child in Arviat and Whale Cove between 1974 and 1979, for whom he is accused.

I have acted, throughout my work, as a judge acts in court. I relied on precise, serious and consistent facts to arrive at conclusions based on testimonies and documents which had a satisfactory degree of proof, writes André Denis.

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He adds that he did not, however, replace the decision of a judge or a jury who would have to rule on the innocence or guilt of Johannes Rivoire during the course of of a criminal trial.

In an interview with the priest, now 92, he again denies the allegations and says he has never molested a child, even suggesting that the people accusing him may want to extract money to the Oblates given the current situation of sexual abuse.

I do not believe the version of the facts that he gave me during our spring 2023 meeting in Lyon, France, however, maintains André Denis, adding that Johannes Rivoire hid his criminal past in Canada from his Oblate superiors in France.

In his report, retired judge André Denis suggests to the Superior General of the Oblates in Rome to review his decision and allow the exclusion of Johannes Rivoire from the Oblate community of France.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">He emphasizes, however, that this measure would be symbolic since Johannes Rivoire would nevertheless be authorized to continue living at the Maison des Oblates in Lyon.

In a joint declaration, the congregations of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Lacombe Canada and the Oblates of the Province of France have for their part apologized to anyone who suffered harm from an Oblate missionary. They also apologize for not acting sooner.

It is with a heavy heart that we accept the conclusions of the report.

A quote from The OMI Lacombe Canada congregations and the Oblates of the Province of France

A member of our congregation contributed to the pain and suffering of children, he betrayed their trust and that of their families. It's shameful for me and for the congregation and I want to apologize to the people who had to live with this, underlines OMI spokesperson Ken Thorson in an interview.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The two congregations recognize, however, that due to the declining health of Johannes Rivoire and his advanced treatments against cancer, he may not be never officially dismissed from the clerical state or will never be the subject of a trial.

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The provincial residence of the Oblates in Lyon, France, where Johannes Rivoire lives.

Noah MacDonald, a canon law specialist and member of the Michipicoten First Nation on the shores of Lake Superior, assures that there are other symbolic gestures that could be considered, such as the dismissal of Johannes Rivoire from the clerical state and by removing his title of priest.

It's another symbolic gesture, but one that could do some good no only for us in Canada, but also to see that actions are taken and that there is a responsibility taken, he indicates.

It is with mixed feelings that Tanya Tungilik, whose father is one of the plaintiffs and who herself went to meet Father Rivoire with a delegation in Lyon, in 2022, read André Denis' report.

I'm glad he thinks Rivoire is guilty, that he did indeed abuse children in Nunavut. I am happy for that, but disappointed and angry that he writes that the Oblates were not aware before 2013, she illustrates.

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The father of Tanya Tungilik, who was allegedly a victim of Johannes Rivoire, would have wanted to confront him, but died before he could. to have had the chance.

I don't believe it. [André Denis] was hired by the Oblates to make this report. Obviously he is going to protect the Church. He has to say something about Rivoire because it's undeniable, but he's trying to protect the people who helped him, she maintains.

Tanya Tungilik especially hopes that Johannes Rivoire can stand trial, whether in France or Canada. I want to see him face justice, she said.

With information from Juanita Taylor and Olivia Stefanovich

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116