Witness testifies to alleged sexual abuse at Saanich church

Key complainant takes stand against former Saanich priest Phillip Jacobs

Warning: The following story contains graphic testimony of a sexual nature that could be upsetting to some readers.

An alleged victim of a former Saanich priest testified Tuesday that Phillip Jacobs molested him a number of times more than a decade ago, while attending St. Joseph the Worker Catholic School on Burnside Road West.

The young man, who can’t be identified, described to the court and Justice J. Miriam Gropper a number of incidents of sexual touching during his time as an altar server under direction of Jacobs, at the time the parish priest.

Led by the questioning of Crown prosecutor Clare Jennings on the second day of the trial, the witness said the pattern of touching by Jacobs escalated from a hand on the back, then to his buttocks and then to more direct molestation.

He went on to describe an incident where Jacobs took him to a secondary room attached to an anteroom behind the church altar, where altar servers prepare for ceremonies.

In the secondary room, the witness testified that Jacobs “touched my genitals” with his hand, under the robe, and there was quick “skin to skin” contact.

The witness described another time he volunteered to move bibles between the church and the elementary school during lunch hour.

In the room behind the altar, the witness said Jacobs again touched his genitals, and then made the witness put his hand on Jacobs’ genitals – again brief “skin to skin” contact.

“He took my hand and pressed it into his pants,” he told the court. “He used one hand to move my hand, and his other hand was around my neck.”

The witness said he didn’t see a pattern to Jacobs behaviour and was unsure how many times the priest allegedly molested him, other than it was more than once and “less than 12” times.

Until eventually telling a girlfriend later in life and then the Saanich police, the witness said he hadn’t told anyone about the abuse.

“It was all very confusing and I was upset,” he said. “I was taught priests can be trusted and confided in and are good people. It was tough to understand.”

Jacobs, 63, is charged with sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference of a person under 14 and touching a young person for a sexual purpose.

The charges involve three minors under the age of 14, with alleged incidents spanning September 1996 to June 2001, all within Saanich. Jacobs was arrested Aug. 4, 2010 and released on $25,000 bail.

In the second half of the day, Jacobs’ lead defence attorney Chris Considine chipped away at the credibility of the witness’s narrative of events, and honed in on the fact the witness was unable to recall a number of details about his time as an altar server.

The witness was unable to give a ballpark estimate of how many times he served as an altar server in St. Joseph the Worker church, although he suggested he did the job over three school years.

Considine asked why he didn’t stop being a server if he was being abused. “I was scared and confused,” the witness said. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Holding up documents provided by the school, Considine suggested the witness acted as an altar server at the church over only two school years, that altar servers were chosen at random for services, and that the witness may have only served in the position a single time. The witness denied that.

The defence attorney told the court it wasn’t possible that the witness was in the presence of Jacobs all that often.

“So if you served during mass, (the number of times) must have been extremely few,” Considine said. “Your involvement on a physical level with Phillip Jacobs must have been not over two years, but maybe over a few months.”

The witness agreed with Considine that the potential window for sexual touching was smaller than he had first asserted, and that the witness had told a police detective and a trauma counsellor details of the abuse that weren’t correct.

“I could have been confused,” he said. “You don’t know how scared I was and confused.”

Near to the end of questioning, Considine asserted, “you were never abused by Phillip Jacobs were you?”

“Yes I was,” the witness shot back.

The trial continues this week.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mysterious Brazilian honey barrel appears at Saanich intersection

Barrel spotted on West Saanich Road part of intersection construction project, district says

Lost dog reunited with family three months after going missing along Juan de Fuca trail

‘The poor thing was skin and bones,’ says one of the Sooke rescuers

Sidney joins federal government in Reay Creek improvements

Coun. Chad Rintoul says contract to renovate Reay Creek dam makes him ‘nervous’

Victoria family donates 878 falafel wraps to support Beirut blast victims

Wrap and Roll pulls in $20,500 during weekend fundraiser

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Addition pending to Cape Scott Provincial Park?

BC Parks will wait before announcing plans for nearly $1 million old growth land purchase

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help B.C. boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

A 90-second video circulating on social media appears to have been shot by the person who was yelling

Central Vancouver Island’s Green Mountain fire under full control

Fire fighters still monitoring site between Cowichan Lake and Nanaimo River

5 B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Most Read