John Gallienne (inset), a pedophile who exploited his trusted position as choirmaster and organist at Anglican churches across Canada to prey on young boys sexually, has been charged again with abuse committed decades ago. Now 71, Gallienne is charged with three counts of indecent assault on a boy in Kingston, Ontario between 1975 and 1978, when the victim was 10 to 12 years old, according to this story by reporter Sue Yanagisawa. It’s not surprising that another victim has come forward now, years later, and more charges have been filed. Gallienne has been affiliated with at least four churches across Canada, including Ottawa and Victoria, B.C. Past convictions have established that he was an insatiable predator with many victims. It is possible that there remain hundreds of victims who have never reported the abuse to police. Several of his Ontario victims committed suicide. There is no statute of limitations in Canada for reporting sexual assault and national surveys suggest most abuse is never reported to police.
Disclosure of sexual abuse, particularly against children, is often a gradual or incremental process that is dependent on the mental strength and resolve of the victim. Children often lack the skill or confidence to explain what has happened to them. They may feel frightened, humiliated, ashamed and fear that they won’t be believed or that nothing meaningful will come from reporting. Some perpetrators warn children that must keep the abuse secret or threaten them. Many victims wrongly believe that they must protect the predator by keeping the abuse secret. It’s only in adulthood that many child victims recognize what was truly done to them and find the strength to disclose the abuse they suffered.
Gallienne’s third set of convictions, in 2011, netted him house arrest for sexual assaults against two former choristers in Kingston. This too would be a factor in the decisions of other victims to come forward. They may be discouraged from reporting once they see that new charges do not lead to substantial punishment for Gallienne. At the sentencing in 2011, the Crown prosecutor failed to convince the judge to send Gallienne back to prison. She noted that Gallienne could have long ago taken full responsibility for his actions and provided authorities with the names of all of his victims, but he has chosen to conceal the true scope of his abuse.
In 2004, an investigation by reporter Sarah Crosbie (disclosure: my spouse) revealed that Gallienne was again leading a choir, playing the organ and was involved in music programs at an Anglican church in Ottawa. It was, according to a senior Anglican cleric in Kingston, a violation of rules imposed in 1994 by the Kingston-area diocese of the Anglican Church. Anglican leaders in Ottawa saw no problem with permitting Gallienne to hold leadership positions in a church.
Chronology of events in the Gallienne case
• Oct. 28, 1989: Senior officials at St. George’s Cathedral, an Anglican Church in Kingston, Ontario, 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: pleads guilty to 20 sex abuse charges involving 13 boys, some as young as eight
• Oct. 2, 1990: 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: 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
• June 2011: pleads guilty in a Kingston courtroom to charges of molesting two young choirboys who were members of the choirs he led at St. George’s in the late 1970s and early 1980s; he was automatically stripped of a pardon he had received in 2007
• February 2016: Gallienne charged in Kingston with three counts of indecent assault on a male between 1975 and 1978, when victim was aged 10 to 12