A Roman Catholic priest apologized and asked for forgiveness yesterday before he was sentenced to five years for sexually abusing two altar boys.
One of the teenagers was molested when the 56-year-old cleric took him to the Vatican to meet the pope.
Apart from handing down the jail term, Ontario Court Justice Martha Zivolak ordered Father Konstanty Przybylski to provide a DNA sample and placed him on the sexual offenders data bank for 20 years.
She said his crimes were aggravated by the fact that he was a Roman Catholic priest and had violated the trust of the community as well as the teenagers who regarded him as their spiritual mentor.
"Sir, you've asked for forgiveness," Zivolak stated as she stared directly at the priest, who kept his head slightly bowed. "This court is not in the business of giving forgiveness."
She added, however, it would be up to the people he violated to decide whether they should forgive him.
In February, he had pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and one count of sexual exploitation of two altar boys while he was pastor of St. Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church during the last half of the 1990s.
Zivolak heard the Polish-born pastor had "groomed" Philippe Lauriault, now 24, and Trevor Kannawin, 23, by providing them with gifts, sleepovers at the rectory and trips to the United States and Europe.
In 1999, he took Lauriault, then 17, on a pilgrimage to Rome to meet the pope and had a sexual encounter with the teen while they were staying at a conference centre near Vatican City. Lauriault said he was relieved and glad when he heard Zivolak had sentenced his former confessor and spiritual mentor to penitentiary.
"What he's stolen (from) me I can never get back," Lauriault told reporters outside the courthouse. "He stole my youth ... That's something I can't forgive him for."
As a result of the abuse, he said he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. He has dropped out of university and has a minimum-wage job. "I'll never be who I was when I was 16 years old (when he started serving mass at St. Cecilia's)." Lauriault kept the abuse secret until he learned that Kannawin had also been assaulted.
Kannawin, who was first abused when he was 13, was also pleased with the sentence. "I feel great, a great sense of relief. I'm glad it's over, that's for sure," he said as he stood outside the courthouse with his young wife and nine-month-old daughter.
He also dropped out of university and suffered psychological trauma as a result of the abuse and doesn't feel he can forgive the priest any time soon. He is now working in a factory.