Behaviour with boys not appropriate, Father Phil Jacobs says in court

Warning: This story contains graphic details.

Father Phil Jacobs’s trial for sexual offences against youths from the St. Joseph the Worker parish in Saanich has been adjourned until January.

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Final submissions will be made Jan. 8 and 9 at his judge-alone trial in B.C. Supreme Court.

Jacobs, 63, who was parish priest at St. Joseph’s from 1997 to 2002, is charged with four offences against three youths. The offences include sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference with a person under 14 and sexual touching. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between September 1996 and June 30, 2001. 

On the stand this week, Jacobs denied the charges against him. During cross-examination Wednesday, he conceded that his behaviour with two of the youths was not appropriate.

“I’m more than willing to say, if I could go back … I would say, ‘;This is not appropriate. It’s something you shouldn’t do,’ ” Jacobs testified.

Jacobs agreed with prosecutor Clare Jennings that it was inappropriate for one of the boys to lie on a couch with his legs over Jacobs’s lap while they were studying. He said it was possible — because of all the piled up papers they were using to study — that his hand brushed the boy’s genitals.

“It’s possible I did that, but I have no recollection of that,” he testified.

Jacobs explained that at different times, he patted and rubbed the youth’s leg in signs of support and encouragement, but he denied that he stroked or caressed him.

“Stroking has connotations that are sexual in nature,” Jacobs said. “That isn’t what I was doing.”

The priest agreed with Jennings that it was inappropriate to try to have a conversation with one of the youths about masturbation. It was also inappropriate for Jacobs to ask that young person to flex his penis and it was inappropriate to tickle the youth in his underwear in his bedroom, he agreed.

“But I thought it was helpful to him in terms of changing his mood,” Jacobs said. “I thought it was a way to bring fun and laughter to someone who was very sad.”

Jacobs testified that he did not tell the three priests who were monitoring him that he was spending time alone with young people. Jacobs was not told that his supervisors did not want him being alone with young people, he said. He also did not tell forensic psychiatrist Shabehram Lohrasbe, who was writing a report on him, about any of the incidents either, he said.

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