Charges shocking, says bishop

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The Thunder-Bay Chronicle Herald

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 12:00 am

Bishop Fred Colli says he “was shocked and surprised” when he found out that a veteran Catholic priest who served in the Thunder Bay Diocese is facing sexual assault charges against a minor.

“There has never been an inkling of any allegations against (the accused) in this regard,” Colli said Tuesday.

Rev. Peter Groulx is retired but remains “in good standing” with the Catholic church, said Colli.

On Monday, provincial police charged Groulx, 71, with six sexual offences involving a child under 16.

Investigators said the allegations, which have not been proven in court, took place in Terrace Bay between 2003 and 2005. Groulx retired in 2008.

Colli said while the charges against Groulx are outstanding, he is prohibited from practising as a priest.

Colli said he knew Groulx was being investigated before police made the charges public Monday, because investigators had contacted him.

“They told me they were trying to locate him,” Colli said.

He said the complainant did not contact the diocese, adding he has never received a complaint about Groulx in his 16 years as the region’s bishop.

Colli added: “In the last 10 years, I don’t think there has been an allegation of sexual assault against a priest (in Northwestern Ontario).”

Terrace Bay Mayor Jody Davis said news of the charges against Groulx wasn’t a big topic Tuesday.

“People remember him, but I never heard any rumours about him, or anything bad being said about him,” said Davis.

Groulx is to appear in Thunder Bay court on Nov. 25.

Investigators said they want to be contacted by “anyone with information about these or similar incidents involving the accused.”

Informaton can be forwarded to the Nipigon OPP detachment at 1-807-887-2637, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.