The Windsor Star
May 05, 2014 – 10:19 PM EDT
Last Updated: May 05, 2014 – 10:23 PM EDT
A preliminary hearing has begun in the case of a former Tecumseh priest charged with embezzling money from St. Anne’s Church.
Robert Couture, 50, is charged with theft over $5,000. Police allege the pastor stole $180,000 between August 2002 and May 2010.
During that time, Couture twice reported a burglary at his residence. In both cases, Couture claimed cash was stolen while he was conducting mass. He posed in his collar and vestments for a photo that ran on the front page of the Windsor Star in October 2009 about how burglars had targeted him again.
Monday was the first day of preliminary hearing scheduled to last 10 days in Ontario court. A publication ban prevents reporting on the evidence heard at the preliminary hearing. Couture has elected to be tried by a Superior Court judge sitting without a jury if the preliminary hearing judge commits him to stand trial.
The London Diocese which encompasses local churches like St. Anne’s has said parishioners deserve to know what happened to their money. Several parishioners sat in on the proceedings against Couture Monday.