|Herman Cassista. (Stevens LeBlanc/QMI Agency)
QUEBEC CITY -- A judge in Quebec City sentenced a former deacon to seven years in prison this week after the accused pleaded guilty in 2012 to 16 counts of sexually assaulting nine men and boys between the ages of nine and 28.
The sexual assaults took place between 1972 and 1991 when Herman Cassista, 69, worked at a school in the Quebec City area. He preyed on students, some of whom were at-risk youth placed into his supervision by the province's child welfare service.
Cassista was sentenced to one year in jail in 2011 for sexual assault on a minor. The subsequent media attention influenced other victims to come forward.
The judge denounced the fact that a high-level Catholic clergy official, informed of Cassista's crimes, tried to settle the case privately and get two victims to drop the charges. One of those victims then committed suicide.
Quebec City's Catholic diocese said in a news release that it has "deep sorrow" for the victims and the families of victims.