Pedophile and former Anglican choirmaster and organist John Gallienne, in 2004 in Ottawa with his wife Lannie – photo by Ian MacAlpine
This is certain to open old wounds, to spark anger, resentment, fear and fury. A virtual boogeyman from Kingston’s past has reappeared to once again cast a frightening shadow over an entire community. Two decades ago, a revered figure in this historic eastern Ontario city’s music and church community was exposed as a ferocious sexual predator. John Gallienne preyed on choirboys, some as young as eight, to feed his relentless pedophilic sexual appetite. He cut a swath through the progeny of some of Kingston’s most notable and most literate citizens, parishioners of St. George’s Anglican Cathedral, the city’s biggest Anglican congregation. Gallienne, who was organist and choirmaster at St. George’s for more than a decade and a half, sexually assaulted and exploited the choirboys he led for his entire tenure. Church leaders knew of complaints about his behaviour within a year of his taking the position in 1975. He was not exposed and prosecuted until 1990. And now, Gallienne has been arrested and hauled back to Kingston from Ottawa (my full story from The Whig after the jump), where he fashioned a new life after his release from prison. Kingston Police did not reveal the arrest until I learned of it through sources and pressed them for comment. Police will not confirm my discovery that Gallienne, like former junior hockey coach and sexual predator Graham James, received a pardon. The James case touched off a national outcry.
Gallienne, whose crimes stunned the community and split the church congregation, was arrested Wednesday in Ottawa and brought back to Kingston, Insp. Brian Begbie confirmed.
“It’s a historic case that goes back a number of years,” Begbie said.
Gallienne, now 65, has lived in Ottawa for some time.
He is scheduled to appear in court in Kingston Thursday afternoon, 20 years after he was exposed as a predator who abused more than a dozen young choirboys over a 15-year period.
The new allegation is the result of a complaint to police by a man who did not come forward two decades ago when Gallienne, then the beloved and brilliant organist and choirmaster at St. George’s Cathedral, was prosecuted.
Gallienne is being charged with indecent assault related to abuse of the man between 1980 and 1982, when he was a child.
The newspaper also learned that Gallienne, like former junior hockey coach and sex predator Graham James, received a pardon from the National Parole Board.
“We can’t confirm or deny [that],” Begbie said. “Under freedom of information, people’s criminal records are protected, if they were to have one and if they were to have a pardon.”
The James case provoked a storm of public criticism that a notorious pedophile was able to secure a pardon. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to seek reforms to the pardon process.
“The Prime Minister has asked for explanation on how the National Parole Board can pardon someone who committed such horrific crimes that remain shocking to all Canadians,” Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the prime minister said about the James case.
It’s not known when Gallienne received his pardon.
A person convicted of a serious crime must wait until five years after their sentence ends to seek a pardon.
A pardon does not erase a criminal record. In the case of someone convicted of a serious sex crime, the record is kept in a separate location but the name is flagged in the Canadian Police Information Centre, a database used by law enforcement.
Details of the conviction would be discovered by a check that takes place if the person applies to work with children, the disabled or other vulnerable people, according to the National Parole Board.
A pardon can be revoked if a person is convicted of a new crime.
In 1990, Gallienne pleaded guilty to 20 sex crimes against 13 young boys between 1975 and 1990. Two years later, he pleaded guilty to three more sex charges involving another boy.
In 1994, he was convicted of victimizing a choirboy at St. John’s Anglican church in Victoria, B.C. He was choirmaster there in the early 1970s.
He was sentenced to six years in prison. His sentence expired in October 1996, though he was freed from prison on early release in 1994.
Families say two Kingston victims for whom Gallienne was never prosecuted committed suicide.
In 1995, 11 former choirboys and 10 parents shared a $2.1 million settlement that ended a lawsuit against St. George’s Cathedral and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario.
Gallienne preyed on choirboys as young as eight. He abused them at his home, cottage, at the church and on his sailboat. He masturbated them and had them masturbate him. He had oral sex with them and sodomized some of them.
The revelations about his deviance were horrifying for many who knew him and for the community because of the international reputation of the choirs at St. George’s, established in 1892.
The St. George’s congregation has historically been filled with professionals including university professors and Kingston’s most literate citizens. Their children were Gallienne’s prey.
As the scandal unravelled in 1990, it was revealed that church leaders knew of improper conduct by Gallienne as far back as 1976.
Since his release from prison, Gallienne has not kept a low profile. He has been active in the congregation at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church in Ottawa.
He was leader of the church’s recorder ensemble, according to a report on 2009 activities on the church’s website.
Gallienne also still appears in choir photos on the church website.
In 2004, the Whig-Standard reported that Gallienne was leading choirs and playing the organ at the Ottawa church, in contravention of a lifetime ban (read the original 1994 document outlining the ban) on such activities imposed by a former Anglican leader in Kingston.
He would not answer questions when confronted by a Whig-Standard reporter.
“I’d rather not, thank you very much,” he said, standing next to his wife Lannie Mitchell. “Our time in Kingston was over and done a long time ago. We have a new life up here.” (read the 2004 Whig investigative report)
The bishop in Ottawa reviewed the ban after the newspaper’s report was published and granted Gallienne permission for “limited musical leadership.”
When Gallienne was released from prison, the National Parole Board noted concern that he was a diagnosed pedophile.
“The Board is aware that pedophilia is a life-long sexual orientation,” the board wrote, in a decision. “Your success depends entirely upon your level of motivation to avoid high risk situations, maintain recognition of your offence cycle, and employ appropriate relapse prevention strategies.”
Chronology of events in the Gallienne case:
• Oct. 28, 1989: Dean Grahame Baker and Barry Keefe, the rector’s warden, review a letter alleging Gallienne had molested the son of a writer and other boys from the choir
• Nov. 3, 1989: Church officials meet Gallienne to discuss allegations. He says there had been no incidents since one reported to the police and the Children’s Aid Society in 1985.
• Nov. 13, 1989: A letter is sent to Gallienne insisting on a system of supervision any time children are involved in practices or performances. He was told not to be alone with children.
• Nov. 17, 1989: Gallienne sends church wardens a letter saying it’s his policy to never see children alone
• November to December 1989: Church wardens contact former choristers and parents; approximately 300 had been in the choir since 1975. The wardens are contacted by a number of people suggesting any investigation into Gallienne is inappropriate.
• Jan. 31, 1990: A letter is received from Gallienne’s therapist saying he is at the “benign” end of the spectrum and there isn’t sufficient risk to justify his dismissal
• Feb. 13, 1990: Church wardens ask Gallienne for his resignation, effective June 30. The church proposes a separation package for Gallienne.
• March 1, 1990: Church parents are called to a meeting to inform of them about current state of affairs and Gallienne’s resignation
• March 6, 1990: Following discussions with police, a letter is sent to Gallienne’s lawyer advising of Gallienne’s dismissal. The offer of severance is rescinded.
• March 7, 1990: The Whig-Standard publishes a story on Gallienne’s notice in the church bulletin saying he’s leaving the church and Kingston
• Sept. 17, 1990: Gallienne pleads guilty to 20 sex abuse charges involving 13 boys, some as young as eight
• Oct. 2, 1990: Gallienne is sentenced to four and a half years in prison
• 1992: Gallienne pleads guilty to three more charges after a 14th victim speaks to police. Eighteen months are added to his prison sentence.
• 1994: Gallienne is convicted of two more sex charges involving a victim at St. John’s Anglican church in Victoria, where he was choirmaster from 1970 to 1974. He receives one year in prison for each charge but his six-year sentence isn’t increased.
• 1994: Bishop Peter Mason of the Diocese of Ontario (Kingston) hand-delivers to Gallienne in prison a two-page document that bans him from any involvement in church music programs or positions of leadership in Anglican churches of the diocese. The Ottawa diocese also adopts the ban. Gallienne was paroled from prison later that year.
• 1995: 11 former choirboys and 10 parents share a $2.1-million settlement that ends a lawsuit against the cathedral and the Ontario diocese
• Oct. 2, 1996: Gallienne’s sentence expires, meaning he is no longer subject to any supervision or restrictions
• April 14, 2010: Kingston Police arrest Gallienne in Ottawa and charge him with one count of indecent assault related to the sexual assault of a boy between 1980 and 1982
Here is an excerpt from the document that set out a ban imposed by Anglican Church leaders in eastern Ontario in 1994. It barred Gallienne from ever again leading choirs or musical programs or of holding a position of leadership (on mobile? click here to read doc):