Reverend Father Faucher shared his fantasies with other pedophiles online. He spoke of wanting to sexually abuse altar boys and babies. Faucher recalled enjoying a video of a boy being beaten to death
A retired Catholic priest who was caught with thousands of pornographic images and videos of children and boasted about urinating in the wine he blessed for parishioners described himself as a “sick puppy” in court on Thursday before an Idaho judge sentenced him to 25 years in prison.
Rev. W. Thomas Faucher, 73, pleaded guilty in September to five felony counts, and must register as a sex offender upon his release. He will serve the full 25 years, as the judge denied him the possibility of parole.
The sentencing “brings to a close one of the most difficult cases the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit has ever investigated,” said Attorney General Lawrence Wasden in a statement. “The nature of the evidence uncovered was extremely disturbing.”
Investigators first began looking into Faucher late last year, after receiving an anonymous online tip about two sexual images involving children that had been sent from the priest’s email account.
According to evidence presented in court Thursday, police waded through hundreds of emails and online chats Faucher had with someone named “Bruno.” In them, the priest, who retired in 2015 after serving for decades at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Boise, was “actively seeking interests with gay men, satanic interests” and the rape and killing of minors.
More than 2,500 illegal files containing violent child pornography were recovered from Faucher’s computer, cell phone, and Dropbox account. In some videos, the child victims wept as they were abused.
Authorities also revealed the priest shared his fantasies with other pedophiles online. He spoke of wanting to sexually abuse altar boys and babies. In one exchange, he recalled enjoying a video of a boy being beaten to death.
“I was one really sick puppy,” Faucher said during his sentencing, according to the Statesmen. “I screwed up big time … I feel so much remorse and anger.”
Other evidence showed Faucher also used racist language in his chats, and once bragged about urinating into the sacrificial wine. Police also recovered images of Faucher urinating on a cross and a canon law book. Before being sentenced, Faucher argued he would be more useful as a free man.
“There are many people who will benefit if I am no longer in jail,” Faucher said, noting he wants to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse. “There are no people who will benefit if I am in jail or in prison.”
But Judge Jason Scott said he disagreed, citing the conclusion of analysts: that Faucher would likely re-offend if freed.
“This is the crime that has the potential for both immediate and long-lasting consequences,” Scott said, according to the Statesmen. “I think there is a legitimate risk to the community.”
The priest was initially charged with 21 counts of felony sexual exploitation of a child, one count of felony possession of a controlled substance for having LSD and two counts of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance for having marijuana and ecstasy. He pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of sexually exploitative material, two counts of possession of sexually exploitative materials and one count of drug possession.
“I am deeply sorry that I was and have been connected to that in any way,” Faucher told the judge.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise is moving to defrock Faucher, and allegedly had the man’s former residence exorcised before putting it on the market.
“The volumes of shocking information that the law enforcement investigation uncovered reveal the heinous nature of child pornography and the tragic impact upon its victims,” a statement from the diocese reads. “While we cannot begin to fathom what brought Faucher to the point that he was able to enter into this evil and dark world, we are thankful for the efforts of the law enforcement community in doing what it can to protect our children from these crimes.”
women from the isolated Innu communities of Unamen Shipu and Pakua Shipu, on Quebec’s Lower North Shore, described how they were sexually assaulted by an Oblate priest who worked in their territory for four decades, until his death in 1992.
Sexual abuse of Innu, Atikamekw children at hands of missionaries was rampant
This story is based on a report by Anne Panasuk of the investigative program, Enquête. Watch Enquête’s full report here, in French.
“He’d let us drive. He knew how to do everything. We were impressed to see a priest act that way,” recalls Jason Petiquay.
Petiquay was 11 when he was sexually abused by Raynald Couture, an Oblate missionary who worked in Wemotaci, Que., from 1981 to 1991.
The Atikamekw community 285 kilometres north of Trois-Rivières was one of many remote First Nations communities in Quebec where priests belonging to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) were spiritual leaders and authority figures for generations.
Petiquay described how Couture would lure young boys to his cabin by inviting them for a ride on his all-terrain vehicle or in his pick-up truck.
His story of abuse is one of dozens Atikamekw and Innu people in Quebec told Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête.
It paints of bleak portrait of widespread sexual abuse at the hands of at least 10 Oblate priests in eight different communities served by the missionary order, which began its evangelization work among Inuit and First Nations in Canada in 1841.
MMIWG shines light on decades-old secret
It has been almost a year since women from the isolated Innu communities of Unamen Shipu and Pakua Shipu, on Quebec’s Lower North Shore, described how they were sexually assaulted by an Oblate priest who worked in their territory for four decades, until his death in 1992.
One after another, alleged victims of the Belgian native, Father Alexis Joveneau, told the federal inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIWG) how the charismatic and much-admired priest had abused them as children.
But the allegations in the Enquête report suggest the religious order’s superiors long knew about allegations against Joveneau.
Francis Mark, an Innu man from Unamen Shipu who said he was assaulted by Joveneau, said many years ago, he turned for help to the late Archbishop Peter Sutton, an Oblate who was made bishop of the Labrador City-Schefferville diocese in 1974.
“He let me down,” said Mark. “He didn’t guide me. Was there justice? No.”
Devout elders kept silence
In some instances which Enquête looked into, when Oblate superiors or church officials were told about the abuse, the priests were simply sent to neighboring communities, where other Indigenous children were abused in turn.
In other cases, as in that of Father Raynald Couture in Wemotaci, deeply religious elders in the community insisted on silence.
“The mushums, the kookums [grandmothers and grandfathers], they asked him to stay in the community,” said Charles Coocoo, a Wemotaci man who once demanded that Couture leave.
Mary Coon, a social worker at the time, went straight to the religious order to ask them to intervene, but without an official police complaint, the Oblates refused.
“The boys wouldn’t file a complaint,” said Coon. “We wanted to get him out of here, but how could we? There was no complaint. We had nothing.”
In 1991, Couture was sent to France, where he remained until eight of his victims pressed charges. In 2004, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail, a punishment another victim, Alex Coocoo, called so light as to be “ridiculous.”
‘A sin to talk’
Claude Niquay said he was a seven-year-old altar boy when he alleges he was first molested by Father Clément Couture, another Oblate missionary who was posted in Manawan, an Atikamekw community southwest of Wemotaci, until 1996.
Niquay was forced to see his alleged abuser every day, when he delivered meals cooked by his grandmother to the priest.
When he tried to tell his grandmother about the assaults, he was punished.
“She’d tell me to go sit in a corner, that it was a sin to talk about those things,” he said.
Before Couture’s arrival, the community had been served by two other Oblate priests, Édouard Meilleur, and later, Jean-Marc Houle, whose alleged victims — elderly now — still recall their assaults vividly.
Antoine Quitish was just five when Meilleur allegedly stripped off his cloak and forced himself on him, “poking” Quitish’s chest with his penis.
“I’m happy that [the story] is out now,” said Quitish, now 75.
Other Atikamekw elders described Meilleur as an exhibitionist who would slip his hands under girls’ dresses during confession.
Enquête heard how Houle, who was posted in Manawan from 1953 to 1970, was drawn to pregnant women: he’s alleged to have spread holy oil over the stomachs, the breasts and the genitals of his victims, explaining he was warding off the devil in their unborn children. The stories got out.
“I told the archdiocese, ‘If you don’t get that guy out of there, tomorrow morning it will be on the front page of the newspapers’,” recalls Huron-Wendat leader Max Gros-Louis, then the head of the Association of Indians of Quebec.
Houle was removed, said Gros-Louis — only to be sent to the Innu community of Pessamit, on Quebec’s North Shore.
Community warned of priest’s behaviours
Robert Dominique, then a band councillor in Pessamit, said his Atikamekw friends warned him about Houle, but the culture of the time ensured his silence.
“For elders, their faith is deeply rooted,” Dominique said. “Religion is sacred.”
Saying out loud that a priest was violating women and children was inconceivable, Gros-Louis agreed.
“You wouldn’t be allowed to go out anymore. You’d be banished, excommunicated,” he said.
There is no evidence Houle’s alleged assaults continued in Pessamit. However, people in that community recall abuse by three Oblate priests who preceded him.
Dominique’s sister, Rachelle, alleges she was first assaulted by Father Sylvio Lesage in the 1960s, and when Father Roméo Archambault replaced him in the 1970s, for her, things got worse.
He would take her into the church basement, she remembers.
“He was behind me, holding my little breasts,” she alleges, “and after I had to masturbate him in the dark.” She described feeling “broken, vilified.”
Jean-Yves Rousselot also recounted being sexually assaulted by Archambault — alleged assaults that continued when that Oblate missionary was replaced by Father René Lapointe. The young altar boy told his grandfather what had happened and was beaten.
“I had to go to confession, to confess that I had committed blasphemy,” Rousselot said.
Lapointe was his confessor.
The priest would later be relocated to another Innu community, Nutashkuan, where he remained for 30 years, allegedly paying children to masturbate him.
In 2003, provincial police launched an investigation following a complaint, but charges were never laid.
Class action suit awaits Oblates
In the Innu community of Mani-Utenam, Gérard Michel recalls community elders sending him, along with another young man, to Baie-Comeau in 1970 to ask the archbishop to remove Father Omer Provencher, who is alleged to have been sexually assaulting girls in the community.
Nothing was done.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” said Michel, now an elder himself.
Provencher, who left the priesthood to live with an Innu woman years ago, told Enquête he will not answer any questions until he is formally charged with a crime.
Father René Lapointe, the priest who spent three decades in Nutashkuan, denies he ever sexually assaulted children.
Now at the Oblates’ retirement home in Richelieu, he told Enquête there is absolutely no truth in any of it.
“Nothing is true in that story. These are all inventions,” he said.
Raynald Couture, the Oblate priest who was found guilty of sexually assaulting children in Wemotaci, lives in the same retirement home.
He admits his past crimes.
“I drank like a bastard, and that’s when those things happened,” he told Enquête. He called his assaults “a weakness” and then a “game with the children,” and said he sought help from his superiors, asking to see the Oblates’ psychologist.
“They never even came,” he said.
Most of the priests accused of having assaulted so many Innu and Atikamekw people as children are dead now; Father Alexis Joveneau, who died in 1992, is buried in the cemetery in Unamen Shipu, where he spent so many years.
In late March, just days after the Oblates issued their apology and set up a hotline for Joveneau’s alleged victims, a class action suit was launched in Quebec for all victims of sexual assault at the hands of Oblate priests.
Lawyer Alain Arsenault says to date, 48 victims have come forward, alleging they were assaulted by 14 different Oblate missionaries.
With the court case pending, the head of the Oblates’ Quebec office, Father Superior Luc Tardif, turned down a request to be interviewed for this story.
Regardless of the results of that lawsuit, people in Unamen Shipu are asking that Joveneau’s remains, buried next to their Innu loved ones, be exhumed and taken away.
– Based on a report by Anne Panasuk of Radio-Canada’s Enquête
The allegations against the priest, however, has come as stunning news to the people he served in both New Lexington and New Albany.
James Csaszar, a suspended Ohio priest who was under investigation for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy, jumped from an 82-story hotel in Chicago Wednesday, leaving his colleagues in shock.
“It is with deep shock and sadness that we have learned of the death of Father James Csaszar, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, who took his own life yesterday in Chicago,” Bishop of Columbus, the Most Rev. Frederick F. Campbell, confirmed in a statement Wednesday.
“On Nov. 7, Father Csaszar was placed on an administrative leave by the Diocese of Columbus after diocesan officials were made aware of excessive and questionable text and telephone communications with a minor and potential misuse of church funds while serving as pastor of St. Rose Parish, New Lexington,” he explained.
“Following a diocesan review of the matter, the New Lexington Police were contacted and all information was turned over to them and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for their review; an investigation was being conducted at the time of Father Csaszar’s death,” he added.
Csaszar had worked at the St. Rose Parish in New Lexington for 11 years prior to moving to New Albany. A 10TV report cited an email from the Chief of New Lexington Police to Special Agent Robert Davis of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification with the subject line: “inappropriate relationship between Priest and 16yo.”
At the time of Father Csaszar’s death no charges had yet been filed against him but the allegations were said to involve a child at the Lexington church. Ohio police told The Chicago Tribune that despite his death the investigation would continue.
The allegations against the priest, however, has come as stunning news to the people he served in both New Lexington and New Albany.
“You could always talk to him and felt comfortable speaking with him, and he was always there to listen to you no matter where he was on the street or what it was,” New Lexington business owner Cheryl Dodson told the NBC 4 about the priest. “He was one of my favorites. Out of all the Catholic priests I’ve known and affiliated with, he was one of my favorites.”
Parishioners in New Albany also started a prayerful petition for him after he was placed on leave last month.
“Evidenced, in part, by the attendance at Sunday Mass, Father Jim has been instrumental in growing Church of the Resurrection, in numbers, in spirituality, in community and in service,” the petition said.
Members of the church held a prayer service for him on Wednesday night and Campbell said in his statement Thursday, urged further prayers for him.
“We are reminded throughout sacred scripture that God our Father is loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving. We also know that in his years of priestly ministry Fr. Csaszar did many good things for the people that he served in his parish assignments. And so we ask that everyone pray for Father Csaszar, his family, friends, and parishioners during this most difficult time,” he wrote.