Ex-choirmaster gets probation after not challenging 19th sex abuse accusation

KINGSTON — Twenty-eight years after Kingston was rocked by revelations of child molestation by the man whose name was then synonymous with choir at St. George’s Cathedral, a 19th victim has been added to John Austen Gallienne’s account.

Gallienne, who now lives in Ottawa, appeared last week in Ontario Court of Justice to face two charges of sexual assault and one of gross indecency committed against an accuser between January 1985 and September 1987.

Now 74, Gallienne stood mute before Justice Rommel Masse when asked for his pleas.

As the law requires, Masse directed that not guilty pleas be recorded on Gallienne’s behalf.

Assistant Crown attorney Janet O’Brien then read in the particulars of the allegations — with the consent of the former choirmaster and his legal counsel — and, with no challenge or defence being offered to those facts, Gallienne was found guilty on all three counts by the judge.

O’Brien told Masse that Gallienne’s latest accuser, now in his late 30s, had been in the early elementary grades and sang in his school choir when Gallienne recruited him for the cathedral choir.

His recruitment came with weekly private, one-on-one voice-training sessions with the choirmaster.

He was so young that O’Brien told the judge he accepted the voice teacher’s instructions, including performing oral sex, as “just something you did to learn to sing better,” O’Brien said.

She told the judge there were also two incidents at a camp the victim was invited to attend with other members of St. George’s choir.

The latest to come forward moved from the Kingston area long ago and was not in court for Gallienne’s appearance.

O’Brien told the judge the victim’s association with the choir and Gallienne had not lasted for a particularly long time, but the man wrote in his impact statement that it reverberated through his youth. “I just had so much rage and would lash out at anyone and everything.”

In his mid-twenties, he reports, he was diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder, but he now believes he was more suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading to 11 hospitalizations over the years.

Lawyers in the case made a joint recommendation for probation.

Gallienne’s lawyer, Fergus O’Connor, argued that his client had led an exemplary life since he was released from prison and pointed to the decreasing restrictiveness of his sentences as complainants have continued to come forward.

In 1990, Gallienne was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for sexual crimes against 13 boys over a 12-year period. Two years later, 18 months was added when a 14th victim identified himself.

In 1994, however, Gallienne received a concurrent sentence for sexually abusing a choir boy 20 years earlier, when he was choirmaster at St. John’s Anglican Church in Victoria, B.C.

He was back in court in Kingston in 2011 and was convicted of abusing two additional choir boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A judge imposed a conditional sentence of two years less one day, which Gallienne was able to serve in his Ottawa home.

The conviction voided a controversial pardon the former choirmaster had secured in 2007.

The last time Gallienne was in court in Kingston, in 2016, he was convicted on three counts of indecent assault on one of his child choristers in the 1970s and was sentenced to three years of probation.

Masse noted that he was bound by the principles of sentencing, one of which is restraint. He told Gallienne, “It would not profit society to put you in jail again.”

Instead, the judge suspended sentencing and placed the 74-year-old on probation supervision for two years, as the lawyers recommended, repeating orders he was already subject to: lifetime inclusion on the Sex Offender Information Registry and a lifetime restriction on his access to children and the places they congregated.

Masse called Galliene’s actions “disgusting and reprehensible.”

syanagisawa@postmedia.com

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