Transcript: Ep. 3 - Can the Catholic church atone for a legacy of abuse? | Nov 19, 2019

You're listening
to a TVO podcast.
Hi, I'm Colin Ellis
and this is
On Docs,
a podcast about documentaries
and the stories they tell.

This week's doc tells a story
that I should tell you up front
gets into some very
difficult stuff.
Childhood sexual abuse.
You may have heard stories about
the Catholic Church
sex abuse scandals in Ireland
or the US
and how they've been covered up.
Filmmaker Matt Gallagher's
documentary tells the story
of this happening a little
closer to home,
here in Ontario

Hello, my name is Rob Tallach,
I represent the plaintiff.
There were 17 individuals,
and you pled guilty to abuse.
William Hodgson Marshall was a
priest with the Basilian Order
in Toronto.
The order is a community of
Catholic priests
with a long history in Canada.
In 2011, Marshall pled guilty
to multiple counts
of indecent assault against
16 boys and one woman.
He served 16 months in prison
and died in 2014
at the age of 92.
Gallagher's documentary is
and it's about what happened
after Marshall was convicted.
There wasn't any argument about
he'd done,
it's about what happened when
one of his victims
took the Basilian order to court
over their financial settlement.
You will be tasked at the end
of this case with determining
the level of financial
compensation Rod will receive.
Where will this
money come from?
It will come from the Basilian
Let's take some of that money
they've amassed
and put it back where it really
Into the hands of a victim of
Father Marshall,
Mr. Rob MacLeod.
Gallagher's doc follows MacLeod
during the trial.
It also looks at the lives of
other victims,
including Patrick McMann, who
was the first to report
Marshall to the police.
is a powerful story. It
even picked up awards at this
year's Hot Docs International
Documentary Festival.
Earlier this fall, TVO screened
at the Ted Rogers
Hot Docs cinema in Toronto,
and had Gallagher, MacLeod,
McMann, and me up on stage
to discuss the film.
We talked about healing, how the
Catholic Church can change,
and how one puts a price tag on
a history of abuse.
All that and more coming up.
Matt, how long have you wanted
to make this doc?
This has been a long time in
the making,
this has... I mean, I've been
thinking about it
for 10 or 15 years.
You know, I-- I grew up an altar
boy in Windsor, Ontario,
and Patrick was a family
childhood friend,
and so Patrick's story
started to come out around 2010,
and I knew of...
I'd lost touch with Patrick,
we hadn't spoken in 35 years,
but finally I reached out to him
I guess, a little more than
a year ago,
and as soon as I reached out to
him, we reconnected
and he told me the story,
and I thought his story, uh...
was important, but I thought his
story was finished.
I mean, he-- Patrick was the
first man to lay a charge
against this priest, and it
started an avalanche.
He got the priest convicted, the
priest went to jail,
the priest died. Patrick did his
own successful civil suit,
and I thought Patrick's story
was done.
But Patrick said "there's this
whole other side of things
"that's going on with this
civil action.
"These civil actions are
So he introduced me to
Rod MacLeod,
and the priest hunter lawyer,
and as soon as that happened,
the film happened very quickly.
Within 12 months, we--
you know, I had met Rod and the
film was done, so...
COLIN: Any apprehension about
doing a subject like this?
Especially 'cause it's
the Catholic Church.
I mean, not for me personally.
I mean, I-- I just didn't know
how to tell it,
and that's why it took so long
for me to figure it out.
Rod, having a doc made while
you're getting ready to do
a trial are two very public
versions of telling your story,
and I wonder how difficult that
was for you?
Well, um, when I went into
the idea
of a trial,
the reason that I went into it
was to lift the veil of secrecy.
For so many years, decades
and decades,
and probably much, much longer
than that,
the Church has been able to get
away with what they do.
And the way they've been able to
get away with it
is nobody wants to talk about
it. Nobody wants to say
"this is what's going on."
So that was my purpose in going
for the trial,
and then when Matt suddenly
showed up
just before the trial,
I felt that was like divine
You know?
Here was the megaphone that I
needed in order to, uh,
spread the word and lift that
veil even higher.
How did you build trust with Rod
and Patrick?
Well, I mean, yeah. It was...
you know, I mean, with Patrick
we had a bit of history,
and with Rod and his lawyer,
Rob Tallach, it took a bit,
but I think...
You know, there are so many ways
that this documentary
should not have happened.
There are, uh... Patrick could
have said no.
Rod could have said no. Rob
Tallach, the lawyer,
could have said no. The
spokesperson for the priest
could have said no, but I
don't know.
I think there was a timing thing
where all of a sudden,
people wanted to talk about
this, and so I think
we got a little lucky, and we
get a little lucky
to tell these guys' story at the
right time.
Patrick, is the Catholic
Church's legacy of abuse
in Canada widely known?
I don't believe that the full
extent of the abuse
is really understood by the
average Canadian,
so to speak.
I think the Church has waged an
effective PR campaign
and continues to wage it to keep
this fairly quiet.
They understand that it will pop
up here and there in the media,
and then they hope that it will
just quickly fade away.
And what they try and portray is
that it's...
a historical issue, and what I
want people to understand
is that it is a historical
It's a historical issue right
through to today,
and next week, it will still be
This is not something just in
the past. It's going on today.
I have victims who come to me
because I'm seen as an advocate
and they are going to the
Church today,
and still being disbelieved.
There are still victims of the
man who abused me out there,
they are hiding in the shadows,
still afraid to come forward.
The Church is not reaching out
to them.
The Church is spending their
appealing verdicts.
Let me ask a follow-up. What
kind of support
do you offer victims who
come to you?
Well, I-- I um, deal with that
in two ways, I suppose
I could say. I'm part of a group
called SNAP,
which is a support network of
those abused by priests.
And anyone who wishes to come
out and meet with us,
we're just a group of peers,
not professional counsellors in
any way.
That is available, and I have
also had people
just reach out to me privately,
and say
"could we go out for a coffee?"
And that often ends up like my
first conversation with Matt,
being a four-and-a-half hour
Um, I don't have answers for
these people,
but one thing you understand
as a victim
when you meet other victims,
is the opportunity to be heard,
whether by one person or 1,000,
is of critical importance
to each victim. We all have
similar stories.
We all have different stories in
many ways.
But the need to be heard is
shared by all.
Matt, are these stories well-
covered in Canada?
Like, by the media?
I mean... no, I don't think they
are. I mean, there are...
I spent a year doing these
and, uh... you know...
I'm sad to say there's no
shortage of these stories.
There's a lot of stories that
these people don't--
You know, the public doesn't
know about,
so I think that there are many,
many more stories to tell here.
Rod, Patrick asked the question
in the film,
he asked why the Church fights
Do you have an answer to that?
When I started out on this
Well, because, like Patrick and
Matt and so many people,
I was brought up in the Catholic
and so I was taught to revere
priests and bishops,
and so on.
And so it took me a very long
time to get out
from under that ideology.
Um... but I've now come to
that the hierarchy
of the Church really have no
interest whatsoever
in solving the problem of
sexual abuse.
Their only interest is to
maintain their power
and privilege and wealth,
and uh...
I don't know if you've see it,
but I've seen this documentary
quite a few times, and what I
see is an incredible smugness
that comes through.
And the smugness is real,
because for so many decades,
and probably much longer,
they've gotten away with this.
So they think "oh, somebody is
causing a ruckus.
"Oh, it will just blow over."
As it always has blown over,
for so many, many, many years.
Uh, Matt, Rod went ahead with a
public trial for his case.
What typically happens to
who want to sue the Church?
Well, they settle. And they
settle because it's--
it's very difficult, and the
Church puts them through
four, five, six years of
questions and depositions,
and pain, and these people are
forced to relive the trauma
in front of Church lawyers,
and the Church does not
make it easy,
their lawyers don't make
it easy.
So, um, you know...
um, Rob Tallach...
the lawyer, told me that these
are as rare as a unicorn.
No, a sasquatch riding an
And so... so when Rod's case
went to trial,
and Rod was, you know,
fully intentioned to go
to trial,
I thought that would be a good
story to film.
Rod's case could have settled
at the $650,000 offer.
The one million dollar offer.
Uh, but it didn't.
He was determined to take it to
trial, so I, you know,
once again, I got a little lucky
with the documentary, so...
Rod, I really admire your
I wonder, were you ever tempted
to just take the money, or...
I know you said it wasn't really
about money in the film,
but did it ever cross your mind
to just take the money and
Well, as I say, right from the
beginning, for me,
it wasn't about the money. If I
was doing this for the money,
then I would have been sorely
I mean, who wouldn't be? To be
able to be done with it,
and not have to bear your soul
and all the rest of it,
and just walk away with, you
know, a very significant
sum of money.
Um, but that just wasn't
my goal.
I-I'll be 70 in a couple of
and you know...
money doesn't mean that much
when you're my age,
I don't find.
You know, I don't have the
appetites I used to have
when I was in my 20s and 30s,
and... you know.
I can't drink as much, I can't
eat as much.
So what am I gonna do with a
whole bunch of money?
You know... so...
my goal was always on trying
to expose this problem
and hopefully find a solution
to stop it.
Patrick, you chose to settle.
And was that a difficult
Uh, it was a very difficult
decision for me,
and it honestly continues to be
a difficult decision
to this day.
The telling thing for me was
it's burned in my memory. I'm
sitting in a board room,
and Rob Tallach was also my
And I'm saying to him "I don't
care about this figure.
"I want the people to know.
"I want the people to know that
the Basilians knew
"he was a child molester before
they ordained him."
And I was assured
by Mr. Tallach
that someone was going to
go to trial,
and all of this would come out,
and I would be able to stand on
the courthouse steps.
And make sure all of this
was known.
I think he got a little lucky
that I brought Matt to him
and it ended up being the case
that we all had this opportunity
to lay out the truth.
So that was a big part
of my decision to settle.
I have a young family, and as
we've said,
they'll drag this out for years
and years.
So I finished, I put it behind
me with the belief
that my truest mission of
holding the Basilians
accountable would still be
able to happen.
It happened in a way I didn't
expect, but for me,
settling put that portion
behind me,
and we still kind of
accomplished the objectives,
I guess.
Matt, I want to ask you about
Rob Tallach,
the lawyer in the film.
He's represented many victims
who don't go to trial.
What drives him to do this?
Um, man, that's a big question.
Uh, I don't know. I mean, I--
I've interviewed many lawyers
and I've done a lot of stories
on lawyers, and he's not one of
the guys who is looking
for the big paycheque. I mean,
if he was looking for
the big paycheque,
I don't think he would be doing
this type of work.
Because I think this type
of work
is scarring, it's... you know.
I mean...
I've only been involved in it
for a year,
and it's... it's hard to do.
I can't imagine what it would be
like for Rob Tallach
or the survivors.
Um, but I think Rob's heart is
in the right place.
I think he gets...
I think Rob gets paid very well
for what he does,
because the Church makes it a
business for him.
Um, you know, but I think Rob's
heart is in the right place.
And Father Katulski, what could
you say about him, Matt?
What is his job like... and what
do you think of him?
What he has to say?
I mean, um... I approached
Father Katulski
because I saw him in court,
and I sat behind him for
three weeks,
and I didn't know who he was.
And it's easy to dislike
the person that he represents.
I mean, it's... it's easy to
hate a monster,
and he is fighting against the
victims, so that's easy to hate.
But I reached out to him.
Uh, producer Cornelia Principe
and myself,
we sat down and we had several
meetings with him off camera.
And I wanted to interview him,
and I knew he didn't want to
be interviewed.
Because why would he want to be
interviewed about this?
But I've thought to myself
that he's a, you know, he
You know, he probably went into
the seminary
having no idea that he was going
to be the...
the money man for the Basilians.
I mean, that's all he does.
He deals with victims and
survivors and goes to court
and writes cheques.
And I said to him, I...
"I'd like you to tell your side
of the story,"
and he was-- you know, and he
sat down.
And I gave him the benefit of
the doubt. And, uh...
And did he have a lawyer present
the whole time?
(Matt chuckling)
That was actually a fellow
priest, who--
who was sitting in on
the interview,
and yeah, he spoke up at
the very end.
Yeah, it was-- I mean,
it's a very... I mean,
how do you defend
the indefensible?
You know, I went into it with
an open mind, and my...
my opinion on what him and his
colleagues do
has changed dramatically since
we finished this film.
Patrick, I'm wondering what you
thought of Father Katulski
in the film?
I have pretty definitive
on... Katulski. Um...
And I'll sum them up
in this way.
I met with him, and their
attorney, Susan Metzler,
when I was doing my mediation.
And one of the first things I
was told was that
the other side wanted me to come
over to their--
we're in separate board rooms,
they wanted me to come over
and receive an apology.
I wasn't much in the mood for
an apology,
but I was raised pretty
and I think I continue that,
so I said
"fine, I'll go over and receive
their apology."
And to sum up the apology
I received from Katulski,
it was along the lines of "we're
very sorry this happens here."
And I always use the analogy...
If I'm walking down the street
when I leave here tonight,
and someone gets hit by a car,
I'm going to be very sorry
that they got hit by a car.
That's tragic.
It's not my fault, I had nothing
to do with it.
So that was their apology to me.
"We're very sorry that you were
abused by Marshall."
No apology for "we're sorry for
what we did,
"we're sorry that he was abusing
"classmates of your father,
"and 40 years later he was
abusing you
"because we did nothing
about it."
That's the apology I'm looking
for, and...
Katulski should know enough that
that is the apology
he should be giving.
So Rod, we learned at the end of
the film that the Basilian order
is going to appeal your win, so
what comes next?
Well, on the 6th of September,
the appeal was heard
at the Ontario Appeal Court.
Three judges sat and listened to
the appeal.
Now the other side have
requested a new trial
in order to change the outcome,
Um, and of course,
my lawyers made a very strong
argument, I felt,
that there should be no change
to what this jury did.
The jury was very, um...
Very thorough
in how they wrote their
You know, when it came to
punitive damages.
Punitive damages are not
something that is automatic.
It's very unusual to have
punitive damages awarded.
And so they listed, in a very
small piece of paper,
all the reasons why they thought
punitive damages
should apply in this case.
They said because of the
"soft-shoe shuffle"
where they kept moving him.
They said because of their...
failure to go into the community
and to look for victims,
and try to assist them.
And the incredible length of
time that this went on
with no changes.
And the fact that they failed to
follow their own, um...
supposedly new guidelines,
in 1991.
So, um, to have this appealed
was a very, uh...
unfortunate event.
We have to wrap up our
conversation in a bit,
but maybe I could get all three
of you to answer
this last question.
What are some things the
Catholic Church can do
to prevent this system of abuse
from happening?
Maybe Matt,
you could start us off.
I... you know, I've been asked
that, and I don't know,
so I'm going to pass it to these
guys who have more experience
in talking about that.
I've been asked this question
a few times,
and I've had different answers.
But I read a letter in the
in Cornwall this week,
because all the bishops are
gathering there.
And the letter was from some
bishop I haven't heard of,
but he was saying "there's an
appearance that we're
"not doing anything about this,
and we have regulations
"and policies, and we've formed
a committee,"
et cetera, et cetera,
and "anybody who's been abused,
or knows of any abuse
"should be calling us
"calling this committee."
And I feel like I'd like to meet
this bishop and say
"I don't know somebody who's
abused a child,
"but I do know a couple
"I wanted to tell you
about them.
"I was gonna call the police,
but hey,
"you said just call you
guys, so..."
What can they do about it?
They can stop deciding to
investigate themselves.
If a crime was committed, we
suggest you call the police.
That's what the Church needs
to say.
If you want to call us and talk
about recovering your faith,
sure, by all means, call a
But when a crime's committed,
call the police.
I think that's a really great
place to leave it,
and I just want to thank
you, Matt,
for making this very
important film.
And Rod and Patrick, thank you
so much for your bravery
and for telling us your stories
And thank you, everyone,
for coming.

We have an update
to this story.
The Basilian Fathers of Toronto
lost their appeal
and will have to pay Rod MacLeod
over $2.6 million in damages.
And that's the podcast.
premieres November 19th on
broadcast and
If you like what you heard,
leave us a review
on Apple Podcasts, and better
yet, tell a friend.
Let us know what you think of
the film and this episode
by writing to us at,
and follow me on twitter
at ColinEllis81.
Thanks to producers Chantal
Braganza and Matthew O'Mara,
and production support
Nikki Ashworth and
Jonathan Halliwell.
Kathy Vey is executive
producer for digital.
We'll catch you at
the next screening.

Watch: Ep. 3 - Can the Catholic church atone for a legacy of abuse?