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Retired priest found guilty of sexually assaulting student

By Morgan Davy

KINGSTON – Retired priest Rene Labelle has been found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against a teenage boy.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Ray delivered his verdict Friday morning. The courtroom was full, and numerous people were turned away.

Friends, family and reporters listened intently as the judge recapped each witness’s testimony and discussed the evidence. A moment of silence hit the room as he asked Labelle to stand while he gave his ruling.

After hearing the Ray pronounce Labelle guilty of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual exploitation, the victim’s mother lost her previously stoic composure. She wiped her tears with one hand and clutched her husband’s fingers with her other.

The trial had heard that Labelle had a longstanding relationship with the family of the victim prior to the assault.

Labelle had been a trusted priest in many parishes in the Kingston and Belleville areas. He was chaplain at a Kingston high school when he met the victim and began mentoring him, court heard.

In July 2004 Labelle was appointed to Sacred Heart of Mary Church on Wolfe Island. Shortly after his move, Labelle invited to victim to come to the island for a visit. The two spent the day at Big Sandy Bay and slept over at the rectory.

That night, Labelle came into the victim’s room and assaulted him, court heard.

In the years that followed the teen battled with drugs and alcohol. He sought medical treatment for a severe eating disorder that resulted in him leaving university after one semester. The man, now in his 20s, has attributed his struggles to the burden he carried and not being able to talk about what had happened to him.

Labelle’s sentencing is set for April 14. He is not being held in custody in the interim.