'He knew what he did': Sexual assault victim breaks his silence
Kim Phillips, CTV Barrie
Published Friday, January 11, 2019 7:17PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 11, 2019 7:21PM EST
“He knew what he did.”
A 47-year-old Barrie man is forced to relive a painful past. A time in his life that he pushed into the deepest, darkest caves of his mind with the hopes that it would never see the light of day again.
But today is about closure as he chooses to share his story publicly for the first time since 1984 after being sexually abused by his Catholic school teacher.
“For a kid, he took you places, bought you stuff… And he wined and dined you as a kid, more or less. You get dragged into it. It just happened.”
He’s talking about Steven Vincer, known to him as 'Tom Vincer,' who taught for more than 40 years at Angus’ Our Lady of Grace Catholic School.
On Wednesday, Vincer was convicted of sexually assaulting two young boys in the 1980s and sentenced to 18-months behind bars.
The Barrie man didn’t go to court to face his abuser; instead he chose to drive by the courthouse in hopes of watching Vincer being lead out in handcuffs.
“It gave me closure that he admitted that he did something wrong. He’s going to do some jail time. That’s where he belongs.”
The Barrie man tells CTV News that, as a then 13-year-old boy, he was too afraid to tell his parents what was going on.
“I was scared. I don’t know. I don’t have a good reason. I just didn’t.”
It wasn’t until September 2017, when he spotted Vincer, that he decided it was time to talk.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years, and one day I was at the mall, and I saw him with a young child. It reminded me of me, and that’s what he did with us. That’s how it started.” He says it brought forward a rush of hellish memories that stayed with him through the days that followed. “I was pretty upset that day, and the days after because I knew I had to do something. So I made a phone call to the police, and it just went from there.”
Shortly after Vincer’s arrest, a second victim came forward, but the Barrie man says he believes the number of victims could be in the double-digits.
“I know I’m not the only one.”
He thinks the former Angus teacher’s reputation is the reason others may be afraid to come forward, because it was for him.
“I knew this was going to be hard, because of how long he taught at that school. The great Tom Vincer, the best teacher at Our Lady of Grace school. I knew when it came out that, basically, I was going to be the villain.” He goes on to say, “He wasn’t the greatest teacher in the world that everyone thought he was, and maybe people will do the right thing and come out to keep him in jail.”
Investigators tell CTV News they also believe Vincer has more victims, and are urging them to come forward.
“Everyone comes forward at their own pace,” says Barrie Police Constable Jason Storey. “Sometimes it does take 30 years. In Canada, there’s no statute of limitations, and it’s never too late to come forward.”
For the Barrie man who chose to finally call the police, he says he regrets not picking up the phone years ago.
“I struggle very much today that I didn’t come forward sooner because I could have saved a lot of kids. I struggle with that, and I apologize to all those kids that I didn’t help back then.”
- With files from CTV's Beatrice Vaisman