A Roman Catholic bishop was sentenced Friday to 2-1/2 years in prison for sex crimes against native Indian women at a boarding school he ran in the 1960s.
Hubert O’Connor is the most senior Catholic clergyman in Canada, and one the highest-ranking anywhere, to be convicted of such offenses.
O’Connor, 68, was convicted in July of sexually assaulting two women, who were teens at the time, while he was principal of a school near Williams Lake in central British Columbia.
Judge Wally Oppal sentenced O’Connor to 2-1/2 years for rape and three months for indecent assault. The sentences are to be served concurrently.
Defense lawyer Chris Considine immediately filed an appeal.
Oppal, saying O’Connor had abused a position of trust, rejected the defense’s request for a suspended or conditional sentence that would have kept the bishop out of prison.
O’Connor read a brief statement before sentencing.”I feel sorry for all the parties involved,” he said. “If I had not broken my vow of chastity, I would not be here today. I have paid a very heavy price.”
The prosecution had asked for a sentence of three to five years on each charge, to be served consecutively.
The July trial was the second for O’Connor. The first was halted in 1992 when a judge ruled the prosecution failed to give the defense therapy and counseling records of O’Connor’s victims.
The British Columbia Court of Appeal overturned that decision in 1994 and the Supreme Court of Canada endorsed the ruling, clearing the way for a new trial.
O’Connor was ordained in 1955 and made a bishop in 1971.