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Ex-priest charged with sexual abuse while working at Catholic church in Burnaby

Ex-Catholic priest Paul J. Blancard, 84, was charged in September with 'indecent assault' on a female in Burnaby between May 1, 1967 and Oct. 15, 1970, when he was working at St. Helen's Parish in Burnaby.
Paul Blancard, 84, appeared by video in Vancouver provincial court last week on a charge of 'indecent assault' on a female in Burnaby between 1967 and 1970.

An ex-priest who has already served a sentence for molesting young girls on Vancouver Island has now been charged with sexual abuse during his time at a Catholic church in Burnaby 57 years ago.

Paul J. Blancard, 84, made a video appearance in B.C. provincial court in Vancouver last week after being charged in September with "indecent assault" on a female in Burnaby between May 1, 1967 and Oct. 15, 1970, according to the court registry.

The Archdiocese of Vancouver confirmed Blancard was an assistant pastor at St. Helen's Parish in Burnaby during that time.

His next court date is scheduled for April 16.

The victim's name is protected by a publication ban.

The Burnaby RCMP investigation that led to the charges was launched in 2016, but the detachment declined to provide further information on the case, including the age and gender of the victim or why it took eight years for the charges to be approved.

"As the file is before the courts and is also subject to a publication ban we are unable to share any information at this time," read an emailed Burnaby RCMP statement.

Then-Catholic priest Paul Blancard is featured in an Aug. 22, 1987 religion article in a Vancouver Island newspaper. By Nanaimo Daily Free Press

This isn't the first time Blancard has been charged with indecent assault (a term used for sexual assault before changes to the Criminal Code in the 1980s).

In 1992, he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting five girls aged six to 10 during his time as a priest in Burnaby and on Vancouver Island between 1967 and 1980.

The sexual assaults, which involved fondling, according to news stories about Blancard's court case, took place in Victoria, Saanich, at an "unidentified lake located between Victoria and Courtenay," and Burnaby.

Blancard had originally been charged in 1991 with six counts of indecent assault and one count of gross indecency – the latter allegedly involving a four-year-old Victoria girl.

Blancard urged one of his victims, an eight-year-old girl, onto his bed by telling her she could "feel like the mother of God," according to a news story in the Victoria Times Colonist about his 1992 sentencing hearing.

A Sept. 25, 1991 article in the Nanaimo Daily News reports on charges against ex-Catholic priest Paul Blancard. By Nanaimo Daily News

The church got a complaint about Blancard in 1976, the story said, and he spent time with the Jesuits at a Spokane, Wash. university, where he was told to deal with his problems with "prayer and vigilance."

In 1988, Blancard went to Southdown Institute in Ontario, a facility for members of the clergy, which offered programs for people with sexual dysfunctions, including pedophilia.

Blancard left the priesthood in 1988.

Complaints about Blancard are documented in the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s November 2019 Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse.

The report says the RCMP investigated Blancard in connection with an incident in Burnaby in 1967 or 1968 involving a sexual assault of a girl aged six or seven in St. Helen's Parish.

"No charges were laid," states the report. "Two more allegations dating to the time of (Blancard’s) ministry there, were received by police in 2016."

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