I’ve just returned from a full day at the Phil Jacobs trial full of admiration for the painstaking work done by opposing lawyers. The judge got involved too, pushing back at the defence, when in rebutting the Crown, lawyer David Lyon seemed to be telling her what she could and couldn’t consider. When she pushed, he backtracked.
I don’t have much time now, but, overall, the defence scored biggest in my estimation in casting doubt on the most serious allegations, that came from the boy who I think of as boy one. He alleges Jacobs touched him on the genitals and forced him to touch Jacobs on several occasions over many months, and the defence seemed to be presenting good evidence that he did not participate as an altar server for that long, knew no details of altar server duties. Jacobs flat out denies he ever touched boy one.
As for boys two and three, the circumstances are mostly agreed upon. The issue is whether Jacobs had sexual intent when he (a) tickled semi-nude boy two in Jacobs bedroom on way to shower, then waited around to see him fully nude going in and coming out; and (b) tutored boy three in math by arranging him to lie across Jacobs’ lap, with the priest poking and touching the boy to encourage or correct him, in the groin area and even on the genitals.. Somehow I got lost in detail during testimony, but when Crown prosecutor Clare Jennings starkly described each incident, I kept thinking, “well, when you put it like that…” ,meaning, it seems pretty obviously sexual in intent, because both actions seem so beyond what we would expect of any priest in this day of heightened sensitivit, and of Jacobs especially, given his record of sexual abuse in Ohio. Jacobs explained at length why he “would not have” had sexual intent, using what I have called “the future unreal” tense but laid against the stark details, his explanations fall apart –for me. I’m not the judge.
In Ohio,b the way, the victim’s families withdrew charges, but Jacobs lost his pastor’s job and I’m guessing there was an understanding he wouldn’t be round boys any more. Please, dear readers, step in to confirm this if you know it.
One of the boys, at least, is apparently suing Jacobs.
The judge will deliver her decision on February 25 , 8 am to 11 am.
I’m interested in your response to this case. A fellow trial watcher told me her son was removed from the situation and sent to private school because of her discomfort with Jacobs’ closeness, and I know of at least one other parent who was also uncomfortable with Jacobs’ solo meetings with boys.
I want to say some more about the publication ban but without violating the publication ban; I got gently chastised for one of my blogs on the trial by the judge and I just want to say again, the more the public knows, the better it can provide a check on the justice system and on particular trials. As courteously as all the officers of the court have behaved towards the public, their increasing use of publication bans over the recent years suggests they do not see the public, or the news media, as serving in this capacity.
They should remember that the British legal system descended from the Anglo Saxon fyrd: which was, simply, the males of a village sitting in judgement. They are acting more like descendants of the Roman system, where justice flows from monarchs and their appointees down to the grateful, subject people.
As well, by keeping the identity of sexual victims secret, they enhance the stigmatizing effect of being victimized, and make it harder for the next victim to come forward. If there is one good thing to come out of the clergy sexual scandal and its attendant publicity, is that it has destigmatized sexual victimization. Only the clergyman should be ashamed, or clergymen if his confreres and superiors collaborated in the cover up. Here are more folks in long black outfits with funny collars and rituals telling us we can listen in on the trial but we can’t tell others about it. Shhh If you come over to my house I can tell you, but I can’t put it in a blog because one or both of the Crown and defence are running searches to make sure I don’t.
And what would I tell you: the names of the victims? Maybe, but maybe I would just release details I believe germane to an understanding of the trial. Don’t you deserve that? Maybe I have already said too much. I’ll let you know.
The judge reserved her decision till Feb.25.