Elderly sex offender priest to be released from prison on Thanksgiving
Oct 03, 2012 – 5:30 PM EST
Last Updated: Oct 04, 2012 – 6:22 AM EST
Convicted sex offender Rev. William Hodgson Marshall will be out of prison in time for Thanksgiving.
The 90-year-old disgraced Basilian priest and former Windsor high school teacher will be released from custody next Monday — having automatically qualified for statutory release under federal law after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
“He is not a free man,” said Greg McCullough, one of Marshall’s Windsor victims.
“He’s free in the sense that he can walk the streets, but he’ll never be free. He’s a cowardly person who was protected by various people … when they knew full well what was going on.”
Marshall was sentenced in June 2011 to two years in prison for sexually abusing 16 boys and one woman at Catholic high schools across Ontario.
The incidents happened in Toronto, Sudbury and Windsor over more than three decades — from 1952 to 1985.
In Windsor, Marshall was a teacher, sports coach and eventually principal at Assumption and Holy Names high schools.
He pleaded guilty to the charges.
As of late July, Marshall was being held at the Joyceville Institution in Kingston.
Rev. Timothy Scott, a spokesman for the Basilian Fathers, said that Marshall will be residing with the Congregation of St. Basil after his release.
“We have indicated from the beginning that once he had completed the custodial sentence, we would be providing a place for him to live in prayer and penance to the end of his life,” Scott said.
Although Marshall has not been formally defrocked, Scott said Marshall has voluntarily written a letter to Pope Benedict asking to be “laicized” — removed from the clergy.
“He will have no function as a priest,” Scott said.
Asked why the Basilian Fathers have chosen to open their doors to Marshall, Scott replied: “We think it’s better that he live in this environment rather than being out in the street.”
“He has no income. He would wind up being a charge on the state,” Scott added. “It would seem better for all concerned that he live with us, quietly, in a retirement facility, for the rest of his life.”
Marshall suffers from debilitating health problems, including cancer.
The Basilian Fathers have headquarters in Toronto, but Scott wouldn’t disclose the city where Marshall will be residing.
In Windsor on Wednesday, McCullough said he doesn’t believe Marshall is truly penitent.
“Of course not,” said McCullough, now 69. “He is a sociopath.”
“I can forgive the actions — but I can’t forgive him.”
McCullough said there wasn’t social support or understanding for abuse victims at the time of Marshall’s offences at Assumption.
“There were no avenues I could go to,” McCullough said.
“My granddaughter is 10, and she already knows there are places she can go if a teacher, a coach, or the guy on the corner does something unusual. But that was not my luck when I was growing up.”
Regarding Marshall’s letter to the Pope, McCullough said: “That’s fine. He doesn’t resemble any Catholic priest that I had at school.”
Although Marshall will be out of custody, his legal troubles aren’t over. He’s still facing charges in connection with the sexual abuse of two boys in Saskatoon in the early 1960s, and several of his victims have launched lawsuits against him and the Basilian Fathers.
Conditions that have been imposed upon Marshall’s release include: avoiding any location where children are present; reporting any relationship with an adult who cares for children; and avoiding all contact with the victims and their families.
–with files from Jason Warick, Saskatoon StarPhoenix