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

A Cariboo bride could very well be without her uniform this Labour Day weekend after leaving a wedding dress in a box behind a grocery store in 100 Mile House. File photo.
The West Shore Firefighters Association dropped off a cheque on Nov. 28 for the Goldstream Food Bank. (Photo contributed by View Royal Firefighters Association)
West Shore firefighters give food bank a big boost

Four departments collaborate on initiative for Goldstream Food Bank

The Digital Divide–Community Technology Help Desk program looks to provide vulnerable Victoria residents with access to technology. (Black Press Media)
Technology lending library and help desk now available in Victoria

United Way Greater Victoria hopes the program will help close the digital divide

More than 46 per cent of Vancouver Island residents reported worsening health during COVID-19 in a province-wide survey released Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Islanders’ mental health takes heavy hit under COVID-19: survey results

COVID-19 SPEAK survey collected results from nearly 400,000 B.C. residents

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Most Read