The Strange Tale of Sister Clare – Part 3

Just to recap:

  • Sister Clare sent me an email in which she said she’d been robbed at gunpoint.
  • She said that her assailant took $700 – money she’d just withdrawn from the bank for her rent and heating.
  • She said she filed a police report and also reported the incident to the bank.
  • I said I would ask a journalist friend from the Toronto Globe & Mail to write a story, and then start up an online donation site to try and raise enough money to cover her stolen funds – but the journalist would need to have a copy of the police report.
  • Sister Clare said that if she provided the police report to the journalist and it was published, she could be prosecuted for Obstruction of Justice.
  • She claimed she received advice from her lawyer to this effect.
  • I suggested then that she just provide the police report to the journalist, but not for publication – just so he can sight it, and verify the facts.
  • She said she wasn’t given a police report.
  • I queried this.
  • She then told me she had left without the report.
  • I told her the report was hers by right, legally – and surely it would be simple enough to just to back to the police station and ask for it. Or if she didn’t want to do that, to ask her lawyer to do it on her behalf.
  • She said her lawyer informed her it would be an offense to pass it on to a third party.
  • She asked to be allowed to post her story on my blog, to garner “support.”
  • i told her I would allow her to do that, but only after I had sighted the police report.
  • My wife and I then offered to personally send her $700 to cover the stolen money, but first we had to sight the police report.
  • Sister Clare said she didn’t want me spending my money on her, and that I should put that $700 towards a nice Christmas present for Jennifer.
  • I then asked Sister Clare for the name of the bank outside of which the robbery occurred. I wanted some independent verification of what happened,
  • Sister Clare wouldn’t tell me.

That’s where we are so far –

By now I was suspicious. Sister Clare had consistently refused to provide me with the police report, and now she was refusing to tell me the name of her bank.

I could see no legal reason why she would want to withhold that basic information. She couldn’t be jailed for Obstruction of Justice simply by telling me what bank she used.

I wondered whether she wasn’t willing to tell me because she suspected that I wanted to check the veracity of her story – which I did.

By now I wanted independent verification of what happened. I had Sister Clare’s address from Susan Sande, who had been sending her goods as part of the Kit the Nun campaign.

So I looked up her address on Google Maps, and saw there were several churches in the town near where she lived. I figured a nun would have to be known by at least one of the churches, so I began to phone them, one by one.

I spoke to several priests, and was very discreet. I was aware that it was a small community, and I did not want to say anything that would get tongues wagging. I did not in any way wish to impugn Sister Clare’s reputation, or to suggest that she had done anything wrong.

I just wanted to find out if she had been robbed of $700 at gunpoint.

One priest i called told me that I should speak to the Father whom she worshipped with. He said they worshipped “out of the back of a garage.” He gave me the name and phone number of her priest, and so I called him.

He confirmed that Sister Clare worshipped with his group, and that he had spoken to her yesterday, on the day she was allegedly robbed. He said that she hadn’t mentioned anything about it to him at that time, and that she seemed fine. Not shaken up, or upset.

I suggested that maybe the robbery occurred after their call – but he said that if there had been anything like that happen, the news would have “spread like wildfire.” Everyone would know about it. It was a very small community, he said.

I then figured that if anything like this had happened, then the local newspaper editor would know about it. Being a former journalist myself, I know that these local editors know everything that goes on in their town.

So I called Howie Crighton, the editor of the Westport Review-Mirror.

It was a Saturday, the office was unattended, so I left a message, then followed up with an email. Howie subsequently got back to me and confirmed that he hadn’t heard of any such robbery.

This was still insufficient for me. The robbery could have happened, but they just weren’t aware of it yet. For me, the police report was key. And the bank manager. After all, Sister Clare had said that she’d filled out a police report, and that she’d reported the incident to the bank manager.

Sister Clare had finally told me the name of her bank, somewhat truculently, I thought. However it was the weekend in Westport, so I couldn’t speak to the bank manager until Monday.

As well, Westport doesn’t have a police station. I called the district police office, and again left a message.

I then called up my tv journalist friend again, in Montreal. She had a good contact in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. I asked if she could ask him if any police report had been filed in the last few days under the name of Sister Simon Clare, or Alison Ferrier.

She said she’d get back to me.

Let’s pick up the emails again…

Sister, 

I sent an email before but not sure if it actually went out – 
But further to my emails last night requesting the name of the bank where your armed robbery occurred, and the town – can you please provide me with this information.  
I’m curious as to why you’re reluctant to do so…
Bill

Sister’s response –
Sorry, Bill. I fell asleep! The reason I don’t want to tell you is simple- I don’t trust you to not put money in my account if I tell you where it is-and I can’t accept money from you.
Love
Scraggy
I don’t see an earlier email, so perhaps it got lost in cyber space

I replied with this –
Sister,
 
How can I put money into your account when I don’t know your account number?
Please tell me which bank, and which town.
 
Bill
Her response:
If you aren’t setting up some kind of fundraising page, why do you want to know? Because you think I’m lying? What would that accomplish? Make up a story and tell Bill so he isn’t concerned if I’m not as present on the blog?Why?
I can’t tell you how deeply it hurts that after all this time you think I am a liar.
 
Bank of Montreal, Westport
By this stage, I had gathered enough information independent of Sister Clare to be fairly certain that the robbery did not occur. Or if it did, then she did not report it to the police.
This was now starting to cause friction between Jennifer and myself. Jennifer said that if Sister Clare was telling lies, she would never admit it – and that it would be impossible to get her to admit it.
She told me to drop it, and get on with my life.
I took the position that it was important to determine the truth. That I had placed a lot of trust in Sister Clare, and others on the blog had too, in large part because they trusted me, and I had given Sister Clare a certain status on the blog, and the forum.
I wanted to bring this to a head. So I sent her this email:
Sister, 
 
Two days ago you told me that you were robbed at gunpoint, and that you had $700 taken – money for your rent and your heating. 
 
I was shocked at hearing this, and immediately wanted to help you by getting a journalist onto the story, and then coordinating an online fund raising campaign. But I told you that the journo would need a police report for verification. 
 
You first said that you couldn’t do this, because it would constitute an “obstruction of justice.” That the police would not want you to “forewarn” the criminal. 
 
I have a very dear friend in Montreal who is a tv journalist and documentary maker. She’s been in the business a long time, and knows her Canadian law backwards. I told her your story, and asked her if it would constitute an “obstruction of justice.” She said no, it wouldn’t. 
 
I then pressed further on the police report – you said you didn’t have it, you forgot to pick it up. 
 
I suggested that you either go back to the police station and pick up a copy, which is your legal entitlement, or that you get your “lawyer” – the person you claim gave you the legal opinion on the “obstruction of justice” – to do so on your behalf. 
 
Meanwhile you kept telling me about your dire financial circumstances – that certain payments on auto withdrawal were bouncing, and you were getting threatening letters, and that you now couldn’t pay for certain inexpensive eBay items which you’d “bid” for, and that it would impact negatively on your credit rating. 
 
You also said that it was raining heavily and so there were no witnesses to this robbery.
 
Some things started to not add up for me. 
 
Why would you park so far from the bank “to get in some walking practice” as you claimed, when it’s raining? And after you’ve been robbed at gunpoint, why didn’t you go straight to the police? Why go back to the bank? And why confront the bank manager, as you claimed? It’s not his fault you were robbed some distance from his premises. 
 
Also, if you have certain auto withdrawal payments in place, why not for your rent, which as you say you’ve been paying for 15 years? And how does getting robbed affect your auto withdrawal payments? 
 
Presumably when you withdrew that $700, you still had funds in your account. I couldn’t understand how getting robbed had anything to do with not being able to pay for inexpensive eBay Christmas gifts. 
 
Now, there might have been very logical reasons for all this, but I started to get suspicious as to the veracity of your story. 
 
So I pressed further on the police report. But the more I pressed you to sight the report, even telling you that Jennifer and I would send you the $700 immediately on sighting the report, still you refused. 
 
You then told me that there was “a third party” involved, and that showing the report to someone else would “compromise my vows as a nun.” You also mentioned that you had decided not to prosecute the perpetrator of the crime. 
 
This to me was getting more suspicious. You were refusing every attempt I made to sight the report. I began to wonder if the report even existed, or if the crime actually happened. 
 
It became apparent to me that what was at issue here Sister was your honesty. 
 
You told me a harrowing story. Robbed at gunpoint of money required for your rent and heating. I then tried to help you – but first I wanted independent verification that your story was true. Every attempt I made with you was thwarted. 
 
The more you tried to duck and weave, and the more inconsistencies appeared in your stories, the more suspicious I became. 
 
So finally I asked simply for the name of the bank outside of which this alleged armed robbery occurred. You wouldn’t even tell me that. You first said “my bank,” when I asked you, and then on asking again you said that you wouldn’t tell me in case I put money into your account. 
 
How can I put money I to your account when I don’t even know your account number? 
 
So if you wouldn’t give me any means by which I could verify your story, I then decided to look elsewhere. Remember Sister I am a journalist by training. I know how to get information, and I know how to determine the veracity of that information. 
 
So I contacted my friend again in Montreal – the experienced tv journalist – and I ran through the story with her. She said I had every right to be suspicious. She offered to get a very good contact in the Canadian Mounted Police to check if a police report was filed in the last few days by a Sister Simon Clare, or an Alison Ferrier. 
 
(Strange that your email name changed – I am also waiting on a response back from Yahoo Tech Support to determine whether they did an update on their mail server which would have prompted a name change, as you claimed.) 
 
Separate to that I am due to speak to Howie Crichton, the editor of the Westport Review Mirror. If any armed robbery occurred in the district, Howie will know. As well, I have contacted the OPP – Ontario Provincial Police – that oversee the Westport district, again to see if there was an armed robbery in the area. 
 
And I am waiting to hear back from my Montreal friend on the result of the enquiries by her contact in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. 
 
As well, I have already spoken to a few locals in the area – I won’t tell you who, but it’s easy for me to find these people – and none of them have heard of an armed robbery happening in the area. As one of them said, this is a small community, and if something like that happened around here, the news would spread like wildfire.
 
So we come back to the issue of your personal honesty Sister. 
 
You asked to go onto my blog and tell your story, to garner “support.” What does “support” constitute – donations? I have told you in no uncertain terms that I will help you get your money back – I even offered to pay you the $700 myself – but first I needed to sight the police report, to determine that what you told me was the truth. 
 
But at every turn you have refused to offer any substantiation. 
 
As you know I helped coordinate a campaign to provide you with gear, equipment, and in some cases direct cash payments, to help you on the tour next year. On my reckoning, goods already donated to you represent several thousand dollars. People from the blog rallied a round you because they trust me. I take that trust seriously. And that’s why I am compelled to determine whether you’re telling me the truth or not. 
 
I have asked Susan, who as you know is organising shipments, to hold off sending you anything more until this is resolved. 
 
Here’s what you can do – you can send me the police report, with all the references to the “third party” redacted, blacked out, so that there’s absolutely no issue with you compromising your vows as a nun. 
 
All I need to see is that a report was filed under your name a couple of days ago, that $700 was stolen, and that a gun was produced. That’s all I need to see. I would not in any way want you to violate some other person’s rights or confidentiality. So having those sections blacked out is not a problem for me. Just the report, with those basic facts. And remember, this is what you told me. All I’m doing is trying to check that what you told me is true. 
 
If you refuse to do this, then I will assume that you have lied to me. If you have lied to me, then I will regard that as a fundamental breach of trust between us – notwithstanding a beach of your vows as a nun. 
 
Should you refuse to provide me with a blacked out version of your police report, I will continue to separately check the veracity of your story from independent sources. 
 
(Now that you’ve finally provided me with the name of the bank, I will phone the bank manager and ask him if you informed him of the robbery.)
 
If all of this happened as you as you’ve claimed, then I will apologise for having doubted you. I sincerely hope I have to make that apology. But if you have lied to me, then I wish to have no further communication with you, and I will ban you from the blog. Not only that, but I will withdraw my offer for you to go on the tour. 
 
So from your point of view, there’s a lot at stake here. 
 
I would ask that you make this really simple and provide me with a blacked out version of the police report. This will be for my eyes only. If I don’t get that report from you, and if my other independent sources can’t back up your story, then I can only conclude that you’ve lied to me. 
 
If you’ve lied to me Sister, then I will have nothing further to do with you. 
 
The ball is now in your court. 
 
Bill
It took a little while, but this is what Sister Clare came back with –
(i am keeping all her formatting, and lack of personal greeting or sign-off. The email came in as Alison Ferrier <srsimonosa@yahoo.ca>
Why would I do all this ? I’ve already refused your money.  I didn’t speak to the manager, though-he was on the phone.He’ll remember me asking about another matter thoughI like to walk in the rain-I have a super anorak-would you like a photo?
 
I didn’t want to garner support on the blog, Bill.I wanted to know if people thought this kind of thing would happen on Camino-and why the better part of people shows up there, but not so much here.
 
To clear up the third party issue, the man who robbed me was someone I worked with in the past who has had a really hard year.
 
There was a robbery. I don’t want to be compensated-try to understand that. It appealed to me at first and I realised I was being selfish and I don’t like that about myself.
 
There is no police report. I know I should have gone to them-and I told you I had because in my vanity I didn’t want you to think I was as stupid as I had been. What I am guilty of is trying to cover up how often I do stupid things like that because your opinion of me is important. That is the God’s truth and I apologise. You can of course talk to anyone here-you will like Westport people, I think. You can also tell anyone about the vain nun who lost her rent and heat money to a desperate guy,needed to tell someone about it because she was scared and dressed up the story with a lie because she didn’t go to the police as she should have and knew that was dumb. I just hoped you would say something that would make me feel better, like you put things in perspective for me often on your blog. I dramatised it so you would think it important enough to listen to how I felt, that’s all. It was wrong and stupid and I’m sorry.
 
I can forward you any email about people wanting money, if you really want to see them. Years ago, after my husband left I had creditors chasing me for money he owed-they really scared me. I still break out in a sweat when I get a letter pressing for money I don’t have. So, I can provide you with proof of anything except the police report because I lied about that, and I’m sorry. I just wanted your attention because I am so lonely. I’m sorry. Very poor judgement, and immature, vain behaviour-but not a lie , not that I was robbed, at least. I am guilty of that.Very guilty of being a stupid little fool to someone who has been nothing but kind to me. Some nun, eh?I have also lied to some of the people from ebay about when I can pay them. Maybe you remember the guy who owes me $500-I’m trying to chase him down so I can make good on those payments
 
If you want, to show you how sorryand ashamed I am, I will tell anyone and everyone on the blog, if you want, exactly what I have done. The whole truth, as I should have done with you. But please believe there was no other motive than wanting your sympathy and attention.I was very stupid and have made an awful mistake.
So, there was no police report.
Sister Clare continued to maintain she was robbed, but as she said there were no witnesses. It was just her word that it happened – and as I’d revealed, her word was not to be trusted.
I was hurt, angry, disappointed.
I’d done everything I possibly could to help Sister Clare – including offering to pay her costs so that she could come on the tour, and realise her dream – to walk the Camino.
And now I discover that she’d lied to me. So I began to wonder, what other lies has she told. And who is Sister Clare?
More in Part 4…

19 thoughts on “The Strange Tale of Sister Clare – Part 3

  1. Oh my, these events get more and more convoluted with each installment.

    It is hard to not pass judgment, but please PGS family, let the events unfold in their entirety before doing so. I know I am struggling to remain objective.

    Arlene

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      • ❤ for you and Jennifer, hope you are enjoying Santiago… if not already gone there, best Tapas in town, IMHO, A TABERNA DO BISPO and best coffee house with old European flair, Café Casino and if you love ice cream, order the Coupe Casino… yum!

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        • Ingrid,

          I’ll chase them down, although it’s been so damn busy since arriving.

          Saw Ivar – lovely chap – and Johnny Walker too. Both truly wonderful gentlemen.

          And Jennifer and I keep bumping I to Marie – who we’re having dinner with tonight. Although will try and find Cafe Casino

          Thanks!

          Bill

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  2. I for one, appreciate your tenacity in dealing with this whole thing. I appreciate that you take your role in this community seriously. That says a lot about you as a person. Bless you and Jen as you deal with this. On the other hand, how exciting that you are running into others from the blog that you are enjoying. I, like Ingrid, pray that you are having a wonderful time despite the backdrop of this story. I hope you are keeping track of what you are doing so you can tell us all about that as well. XOXOX

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    • Hi Julie –

      yes it was lovely to bump into Marie –

      As for the story involving Sister Clare – this is all about clearing the air and getting things back on track.

      Bill

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  3. I notice that I am the only one to “like” this blog so far, the only one to “like” yesterdays, and one of four that “like” the first installment.

    When I “like” a blog, I am indicating to Bill and others that I have read it even if I don’t comment. It has nothing to do with my attitude about the content. It is simply letting Bill know that I am with him and interested in everything he writes in the blog. Certainly I don’t “enjoy” the content of this blog, but I like that Bill has the fortitude to relay the incidents in a manner that is most appropriate for him.

    These posts about the incident with Sister Clare (notice I used the words, about the INCIDENT and not about Sister Clare) are stunning, dismaying, disappointing, and sorrowing. They reach into the very soul of each of us and most of all I believe it challenges us to have compassion for someone who, for what ever reason, lost her way. It is pretty conclusive that she made and may continue to perpetuate some very grievous errors in judgment and honesty, and that may get her banned from association with any of us via the blog. If so, I think that will be a huge punishment, because I think we as a group, and Bill especially, have filled some empty and lonely space in Sister Clare’s life.

    No matter what the fourth installment will bring, I believe the first three have painted a pretty clear picture of the facts. Now, I expect Bill will be processing all this means and how he personally will handle it. Of course I may be wrong as I have no insight into what Bill will write. I join the rest of you in looking forward to the next installment.

    I continue to have immense respect for Bill and his ability to ferret out the facts before rushing to “judgment”, and then maybe not rushing to judgment at all, but to some other conclusion. He has done an amazing job of doing so. I doubt this is about “judgment” to Bill.

    While we may think this is a poor time for Bill to be distracted by this, I personally believe the whole unfolding of the incident on the blog is very cathartic to Bill and will help him draw closure from it. Any of us who have followed his life for the last few months knows that he appears to be happiest when overloaded.

    I have rambled around here and had no idea what I was going to say except why I “like” this blog and the past two, but I just let my words follow my mind. Sometimes that can be dangerous. 🙂

    Steve

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    • Steve –

      mate, if I can say, and please know that I say this with absolute respect – I have seen how you have grown enormously from when you first started your blog, and when we first began to communicate.

      Your growth during this period has been huge.

      Now it may well be that there has been minimal growth, and what I’m really seeing is the growth in articulation and expression of your wisdom – but either one, or both have become apparent to me.

      In the next instalment, or perhaps the one after, it will be revealed why I went public with this. I finally decided to do so for two reasons – and I will explain those reasons when it’s all laid out. However I will say that ironically, I can see that opening up this ugly wound to the sun and the light could be very healing for Sister Clare, and for me – and perhaps for some others who read all this too.

      Bill

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      • Bill,

        I appreciate having you and this blog in my life. My life has undergone some immense changes during the 17 months since Jill and I separated, 6 of which have been interlaced with you. If nothing else, I have truly learned to live without expectation. I have gone through the full gamete of emotions, and have come out a much healthier and better human being on this side. You came into my life for a reason. Thank you for being here.

        I very much look forward to taking our “internet” friendship to a face-to-face friendship in April.

        In my earlier post I said that if Sister Clare is banned from the blog that will be a huge “punishment”. I would like to change that to a huge “consequence”, which is a more appropriate depiction of the impact on her. I am glad I don’t have to make that decision concerning Sister. None of us do and we should all refrain from attempting to. It is your soul province; none of get to vote; and, know that I absolutely support whatever you believe to be appropriate.

        Steve

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        • Hi Steve –

          I should explain that I told her I would ban her from the blog in the email I sent her.

          I was angry at the time.

          I wouldn’t ban her from the blog – however I have taken away her Moderator Permissions from the Forum.

          I stand by that.

          Bill

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  4. I just learned something new!! I didn’t grow up using computers and haven’t caught up with technology. I don’t do Facebook or Twitter. I have always thought that only a Facebook person could click on the Like button. Thanks Steve, I just clicked on it and it worked. I can now click on “Like” for Bill’s posts. This is probably due to you Steve. If you remember, the night before Dale and I were leaving for the Camino, you helped us set up the blog. I think because we have a blog we can now “Like”. Anyway thanks for getting me to try liking and the help with the blog.
    Lynda

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    • Dear Linda – and Steve, I too am not on anything except email and this blog and I too didn’t think I could show my support by ‘liking’, but will definitely try it from now on. Am off air for a few days, so suffice to say,

      Bill and Jennifer, you are in my thoughts and I sincerely hope that you can have some sun and fun when you’re not delving into the unhappy story that’s Sister Clare. Love, Britta

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      • Dear Britta –

        that’s very kind of you, thank you. And I’ll pass it on to Jennifer, who unlike me doesn’t start her day at 5am!! She’s sensible.

        I’ll also here reply to your comment about Rudesheim, and make my own comment about you remembering the “delicious” American?

        You made me smile!!

        Take care, Bill

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  5. Hello Bill
    I hope this issue can be resolved with the least possible damage to you and Jennifer and to Sister Clare. I have always valued her contribution to the blog, and I am sure there is some explanation to these events. I just hope she is ok.
    Thinking of you. And once the matter is cleared up, I look forward to hearing more about Portugal.
    Regards, Elizabeth.

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    • Elizabeth,

      thank you – and yes, the SSC saga prevented me from posting about Portugal. There was not enough time in the day, unfortunately.

      But I’ll catch up.

      Thank you for your kind words and well wishes.

      Bill

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  6. I have some private information re the above which I prefer NOT to post here. . .would it be possible for you to email me when time allows. Thank you.

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