Rev. Paul Walker, a deacon at All Saints church in Whitby, Ont., diocese of Toronto, asked in March that his ordination as a priest be delayed after a sexual assault charge was filed against him in February in Kamloops, B.C. The diocese has agreed to put the ordination on hold until the matter is resolved.
The charge was filed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, alleging that the assault took place in August 1997, when Mr. Walker, then a lay person, and the complainant, who is not identified in the charge, were camping near Kamloops. Subsequently, the complainant spoke to the media and identified himself as Trevor Henderson, a former member of a youth group Mr. Walker led while a parishioner at St. James church in Kingston, Ont.
In an interview with the Kingston Whig-Standard, Mr. Henderson, who was 19 at the time, said he and Mr. Walker were sharing a tent when Mr. Walker made a sexual pass at him, which Mr. Henderson rebuffed. The incident was not repeated and the two men parted company, Mr. Henderson said.
Mr. Walker was ordained a deacon in May 2001 and was scheduled to become a priest in March 2002, said Archdeacon Colin Johnson, executive assistant to Archbishop Terence Finlay of the diocese of Toronto. Mr. Walker had moved to Toronto in 1995 and began studying for the ministry at that time, he said.
However, when he sought ordination in the diocese of Ontario, where Kingston is the See City, he told Bishop Peter Mason about the 1997 incident and Bishop Mason responded that he could not become a priest in the diocese.
Mr. Walker volunteered details of the incident while preparing for ordination in Toronto, Archdeacon Johnson said. “We were in touch with the bishop of Ontario, who outlined the facts and they corresponded with what Paul (Mr. Walker) had told us. We knew his referees and put him through the standard process” which includes a police check, psychological testing, and checking of references. The diocese of Ontario had also contacted several people who had been in Mr. Walker’s youth group and turned up no evidence of any other incidents, Archdeacon Johnson said.
“There was no indication of behaviour that would put him at risk with other people,” said Archdeacon Johnson. All Saints church was kept informed, he said.