Fr. Ted Colleton has been found not guilty on a charge of mischief brought by the operators of the Morgentaler abortuary in Toronto. The charge relates to an incident on April 9th in which Fr. Colleton padlocked the back gate of the abortuary with a “Kryptonite” – type bicycle lock.
The police who witnessed the padlocking refused to lay a charge against the Roman Catholic priest who was acquitted in January of charges arising out of an earlier padlocking episode at the abortuary. The operators of the illegal abortuary were then prompted to lay a criminal charge of “willfully interfering with the lawful use of property” against Fr. Colleton. The charge was prosecuted by a crown attorney on the Attorney General’s staff.
Trial Judge D. T. Hogg, in a decision brought down on July 11th, found Fr. Colleton not guilty of mischief as charged. In his decision, Judge Hogg dismissed the arguments of defence counsel Paul Dodds who had argued that Fr. Colleton should be found not guilty because the activities taking place inside the abortuary are contrary to the Criminal Code provisions governing abortion. Instead, Judge Hogg ignored that argument and found Fr. Colleton not guilty on the ground that the priest’s actions were in Fr. Colleton’s own words a “symbolic protest.” According to the judge, the prosecutor had failed to prove that Fr. Colleton’s action was “willful.”
After hearing Judge Hogg’s reasons for judgment, Fr. Colleton said, “Frankly, I was underwhelmed by the judge’s decision. The whole affair ended with a whimper.”