A Romanian Orthodox priest charged with sexual assault earlier this month now faces eight additional charges, police said Monday.
30 September 2013
Eight more charges have been laid against a Romanian Orthodox priest who was arrested for sexual assault after a couple walked in on him and a woman in his Danforth Ave. church earlier this month.
Ioan Pop, 54, was arrested Sept.11 in connection with an assault on a woman in All Saints Romanian Orthodox Church, where he was the parish priest.
On Monday, he was charged with seven more counts of sexual assault and one of forcible confinement.
Det.-Const. Teresa Curtis told a news conference that, following that arrest, seven additional complainants came forward. The new charges stem from incidents alleged to have occurred between 2005 and 2011, inside the church and at residences in Durham Region and Toronto.
The alleged victims are between 24 and 43 years old.
Pop’s daughter, Teodora-Ioana (Joanna), declined to comment when reached by the Star. Like her father, she has held a leadership position in the church, where she’s listed as the president of the Romanian Orthodox Youth in America.
According to the church’s website, Pop founded the church shortly after his arrival in Canada in July 1999. Starting with very little, he was able to build up the congregation and raise money before consecrating a newly built church at Danforth Ave and Birchmount Rd. in June 2008.
“He built the church with support from our community and provided counselling and enormous religious support to any of its members,” wrote Magda Popescu, president of the church’s Ladies’ Committee, in an email to the Star. “Father Pop was always there for anyone who wanted to confess and strongly encouraged people to get more involved into spiritual daily life. He was always willing to offer help even on the personal matters like for example a ride to or from the airport.”
“The latest events are shocking news,” wrote Popescu. “I believe in the justice system and I’m sure that Police will do the best to find the truth.”
Popescu wrote that the parishioners knew Pop “as a different person” who had “outstanding qualities and merits.”
The church history mentions that Pop’s eldest daughter, Julia-Maria, died when she was 15. “Even when the storm of life hit his family … Father John did not abandon the parish or leave it without Holy Mass or sermon.”
In an interview published in the Romanian newspaper Jurnalul National, Pop said the initial charge stemmed from an incident when a woman came to see him asking for a letter to help her see her son, who is a Crown ward, more often.
He says he kissed the woman when greeting her and again when she was parting, as is Romanian custom, according to the interview.
The charges have shocked many at the tightly knit church. “We are not in a good place because of this,” said bookkeeper Stelian Mandeal.
Police are encouraging any other possible victims and witnesses to come forward
Danforth Road church members in shock after priest charged with sexual assault
Rev. Ioan Pop of All Saints Romanian Orthodox Church charged
13 September 2013
Members of a Scarborough church are in shock after their priest was charged in connection with a sexual assault.
Police allege a woman went to All Saints Romanian Orthodox Church at 545 Danforth Rd. where she was sexually assaulted Sept. 3.
A couple who entered the church interrupted the assault.
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, police arrested 54-year-old Ioan Pop and charged him with sexual assault.
Magda Popescu, president of the church’s ladies’ auxiliary, said Pop has been the priest at All Saints since he came to Canada about 14 years ago.
“Actually he built this church, of course with the help of the community, but he was always working hard,” she said. “Really, I cannot say anything bad about him.”
Popescu described Pop as a “very good priest” who kept the community together.
“Everyone is shocked,” she said.
“I don’t know what to believe now…I hope that the truth will come out.”
About 100 families are members of All Saints.
Popescu said she has known Pop and his family for about 12 years.
“A short time after he came (to Canada) he lost one of his daughters,” she said. “We’ve been very close to them because they went through so much.”
Popescu said Pop’s oldest daughter passed away from an illness at age 15 about 12 years ago.
Popescu said she spoke to Pop’s wife after hearing on Friday morning that he had been charged.
“Of course she’s shocked, and they are trying to deal with everything,” she said. “But definitely we’ll help them, and I guess the community will still be together.”
Pop is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 15.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-4100 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).