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6 Jesuit priests who served in Guelph named by church as 'credible' sexual abusers

Five of the six are deceased while the other turns 93 this year
Loyola House at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre. Supplied photo

Warning: This article contains information about, and refers to, the sexual abuse of children.

Six priests who at one time served the Jesuit church in Guelph are among 27 priests identified by the church as 'credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.'

The Jesuits of Canada, with the help of an outside party, spent the past three years investigating sexual abuse allegations of its own members and former members. On Monday it released its finding on the Jesuits of Canada web site, naming 27 priests.

Of those 27, all but three are dead.

"We are publishing this list partly at the request of victims and victim advocacy groups to help promote healing, to recognize the magnitude of their trauma and suffering, to acknowledge their experience, and to promote justice and transparency," said Fr. Erik Oland, head of the Jesuits of Canada.

"The list includes the names of Jesuits from 1950 to the present who have been credibly accused of abuse of minors. It follows a thorough review of Jesuit records. In addition to the archival records, investigations of historic allegations were undertaken by the third party consultants, the King International Group.

"As we have met with survivors, listened to their stories, and read the reports of their experiences, we have felt shame and become convinced that the only path forward is one of truth-telling, healing, and reconciliation."

While the list includes the names and locations the priests served, it does not specify when they served there.

The six who served in Guelph were:

- Francis Whelan (living) who was ordained in 1964 and spent time serving at the University of Guelph. Whelan, who turns 93 this year, is on "restricted ministry, safety plan," says the church.

- George Epoch (deceased) who was ordained in 1952 and spent time serving at Loyola Retreat House

- Wiliam Savoie (deceased) who was ordained in 1930 and served at Ignatius College

- George Topp (deceased) who was ordained in 1951 and served at Ignatius College

- Lorne Trainor (deceased) who was ordained in 1960 and served at Ignatius College

- William Westaway (deceased) who served at Ignatius College

"We have developed comprehensive procedures for receiving and investigating allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Additionally, we have established guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse, as well as prevention of sexual harassment," Oland said. 

The audit was undertaken with the assistance of independent investigator Brian King of King International Advisory Group beginning in early 2020.

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