Montreal archdiocese strips Brian Boucher of priesthood

Click to play video: 'Montreal archdiocese strips Brian Boucher of priesthood'
Montreal archdiocese strips Brian Boucher of priesthood
WATCH: Reverand Brian Boucher was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2019 in connection with the sexual assault of two minors. This summer the archdiocese officially defrocked him. As Global's Amanda Jelowicki explains, publically stripping a priest of his clerical duties and expulsing him from the church is a huge step for the church – Oct 23, 2020

Brian Boucher, a Montreal reverend who was convicted of sexually abusing two underage boys in 2019, has been officially stripped of his priesthood.

Montreal’s archdiocese announced the dismissal in a statement Friday, saying the decision was “rendered last year at the conclusion of a church judicial process” but that it was subject to appeal. No appeal was filed by Boucher, who was ordained in 1996.

“Mr. Boucher cannot exercise any form of priestly function or occupy any office reserved for clerics,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

“Moreover, he is prohibited from teaching in Catholic schools and institutions, or from exercising public functions such as lector or Eucharistic minister in a parish community.”

READ MORE: Montreal archdiocese hires retired judge to conduct independent probe of Brian Boucher

Boucher was arrested in 2017. Following a trial, Boucher was convicted in January 2019 of sexually assaulting one of the victims. In the second case, he pleaded guilty to sex-related charges as a trial was set to begin just under two weeks later.

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The abuse took place while he was stationed at two churches, between 1995 and 1999 in the case of one victim and between 2008 and 2011 in the other. Both victims are now adults.

Boucher was sentenced to an eight-year sentence in March 2019 for his crimes.

READ MORE: Montreal priest sentenced to 8 years for sexually abusing 2 underage boys

Experts says the very public expulsion is a step forward for the church. Alain Pronkin, author of Le Grand Secret du Vatican, described the defrocking as “major.”

“It’s very good news for victims,” he said. “It shows the system works, finally, and it’s public.”

Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the church, said it was the right call. The class action, which names Boucher, is related to sexual offences dating back to 1940.

“It’s the appropriate decision. There have been very serious sexual assaults and it is quite logical that he can no longer be a priest,” she said.

Independent investigation over

Montreal’s archdiocese says an independent investigation into Boucher has also wrapped up. It was led by Pepita G. Capriolo, a retired Quebec Superior Court judge who was hired in November 2019.

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Capriolo was tasked with looking at how the church handled complaints and concerns about Boucher.

The findings were presented to Archbishop Christian Lépine in September. Lépine and his team have “since been reviewing the findings and studying the recommendations.”

“We are of one heart with the victims, their families, their parish communities in their pain and suffering,” Lépine said in a statement. “We will never accept that such crimes be committed and remain concealed.”

The full report is expected to be released publicly in November.

Click to play video: 'Montreal Catholic priest Brian Boucher pleads guilty'
Montreal Catholic priest Brian Boucher pleads guilty

With files from Global News’ Amanda Jelowicki and the Canadian Press

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