Documentary Provides Healing to Victims of Ex-Priest and Scout Leader Ralph Rowe

by John McKiggan

It has been suggested that Ralph Rowe is one of Canada’s most prolific pedophiles. Rowe was an Anglican Priest and Scoutmaster. He was also a pilot and he flew to 20 remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. Rowe would lead church services, organize youth group outings and scout camping trips where he used his position of trust and authority to prey on children.

Controversial deal

In 1994 Ralph Rowe pleaded guilty to 39 sex abuse charges. He was sentenced to 6 years. But part of the plea bargain that resulted in Rowe’s guilty plea involved an agreement that Rowe would not be sentenced to further prison time for similar convictions.

Of course, there were other victims out there. Rowe was convicted again in 2005, 2009 and 2012 resulting in more than 60 convictions.

Rowe served just 5 years of a 6 year sentence even though he has been convicted of abusing more than 60 children and RCMP believe he has abused hundreds more. Rowe is now free and living in British Columbia, where he is able to carry on despite having destroyed hundreds of lives.

I wrote about the claims against Rowe back in 2012: Another former Boy Scout leader charged with sexual abuse.

I have been representing survivors of childhood abuse for almost 25 years so I have seen first hand the kind of devastating effects that histocial abuse can cause to victims and their families.

Documentary provides healing

Survivors Rowe

Now a new documentary, Survivors Rowe provides a look at the life of the estimated 500 victims who were sexually abused by Rowe when he was a priest and scout leader in First Nations communities in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Director Daniel Roher hopes that the movie will help survivors with their healing. One of Rowe’s victims, Jason Anderson, said that he hoped the new documentary will help people understand why so many men of his generation have turned to drugs and alcohol.

Survivors Rowe premiered at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto this month. Hopefully the documentary will be available for a wider distribution in the near future so we will be able to see it here in Halifax and in other parts of Canada.

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