Father Philip Jacobs on trial in Victoria

Former parish priest in Sooke charged with sexual assault

Father Phil Jacobs

Father Philip Jacobs, 62, now on trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria on charges of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference of a person under 14 and touching a young person for a sexual purpose, was first sent to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church because it would limit his access to children. Jacobs was assigned to the Sooke church in 1995 and spent two years as the parish priest of the small church along Sooke Road.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria knew of allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” with a young male in Ohio. The admissions show allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Jacobs when he was ministering in the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, Ohio. No criminal charges were laid or civil suits filed as a result of the Ohio allegations.

The current charges come from incidents alleged to have occurred in Saanich between 1996 and 2001. Jacobs was arrested Aug. 4, 2010 and released on $25,000 bail.

An alleged victim of a former Saanich priest testified Tuesday that Phil Jacobs molested him a number of times more than a decade ago, while attending St. Joseph the Worker Catholic School on Burnside Road West.

The young man, who can’t be identified, described to the court and Justice J. Miriam Gropper a number of incidents of sexual touching during his time as an altar server under direction of Jacobs, the parish priest at the time.

Led by the questioning of Crown prosecutor, Clare Jennings, on the second day of the trial, the witness said the pattern of touching by Jacobs escalated from a hand on the back, then to his buttocks and then to more direct molestation.

The witness said he didn’t see a pattern to Jacobs behaviour and was unsure how many times the priest allegedly molested him, other than it was more than once and “less than 12” times.

Until eventually telling a girlfriend later in life and then the Saanich police, the witness said he hadn’t told anyone about the abuse.

“It was all very confusing and I was upset,” he said. “I was taught priests can be trusted and confided in and are good people. It was tough to understand.”

The trial continues.

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