A retired teacher for St. Joseph’s Catholic elementary school testified Thursday for the defence as the final witness at the ongoing Phil Jacobs sexual abuse trial.
During testimony on Dec. 11, one of the three complainants against Jacobs testified the priest molested him during his time as an altar server at Joseph the Worker church.
The witness testified to a time Jacobs molested him while preparing for altar server duties during a school mass in a room attached to the preparation room behind the altar.
The witness couldn’t remember how many times he performed as an altar server, but said it was more than once and spanned two school years. Overall, the witness said Jacobs molested him more than once and less than a dozen times.
On Thursday, Alice Valiquette, a retired but long-time teacher at St. Joseph’s, said she had the responsibility of selecting altar servers for school-wide masses, which happened about once per month, during school hours.
Valiquette testified that the complainant had served as an altar server at a school-wide mass only once.
She also noted that during preparation for mass, the room behind the altar was busy with students, and that the school principal was usually in the room chatting with Jacobs prior to the ceremony.
“While teaching and attending mass, did you observe any improprieties between Philip Jacob and (the complainant)?” asked Jacobs’ defence attorney Chris Considine.
“No,” Valiquette told Justice Miriam Gropper.
She couldn’t say if the complainant performed as an altar server for different ceremonies, such as a funeral mass or a parish mass, during questioning from Crown prosecutor Clare Jennings.
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.
The trial will resume in Victoria Supreme Court on Jan. 8 for final defence and Crown submissions.
Media coverage of the trial has drawn the attention of people in Ohio, where Jacobs admitted during his trial here to sexually abusing young boys years ago.
Last Wednesday, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported that in 2010, Diocese of Columbus had received about 10 reports of abuse by Jacobs since 1993 and had passed all allegations on to police.
“For many years the Columbus Diocese has actively sought all information of any incidents of abuse by (Phil) Jacobs. As its ongoing policy, the Diocese of Columbus continues to encourage strongly anyone who may have experienced abuse from any clergy or others associated with the church to contact the diocesan victims-assistance coordinator … as well as notify the appropriate civil authorities,” Columbus diocese spokesman George Jones told the Dispatch.