Diocese of Fredericton launches investigation after priest pleads guilty to solicitation of prostitution

By on January 1, 2005

The diocese of Fredericton’s sexual offences committee will conduct its own investigation after Canon Ed Coleman, rector of the parish of Hampton, was convicted by a court in Sussex, N.B., of soliciting a young male for prostitution.

“I am deeply saddened and troubled by the events that led to the charges and my prayers remain with the victim as well as Mr. Coleman and his family,” diocesan bishop Claude Miller said in a statement after the priest’s conviction Dec. 3. “I commend Mr. Coleman for taking responsibility for his actions and assure all involved that the church will continue to support them in any way possible.”

Mr. Coleman, 48, pleaded guilty after entering into a plea bargain. He was granted a conditional discharge by the court.

When charges were laid last July, Bishop Miller put Mr. Coleman on medical leave of absence and sent him to the Southdown Institute in Aurora, Ont., which offers treatment and rehabilitation for religious professionals. He remains on indefinite leave and has not performed parish or diocesan duties since he was charged July 29.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police identified Mr. Coleman’s victim as a young male. Mr. Coleman had earlier pleaded not guilty to charges that he tried to pay a minor for sex outside a church in Midland, N.B., on July 1, 2004.

A police investigation began after neighbours of the Midland Baptist Church called the RCMP to report a disturbance in the church’s parking lot.

Rev. Wally Collett, a retired priest, has been assigned to serve as interim priest in charge of the parish of Hampton.

Ordained in 1984, Mr. Coleman served in his native Newfoundland until coming to the Anglican diocese of Fredericton in 1992. He was appointed a canon in 2003.

With files from Wilfred Langmaid

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