A retired Anglican priest was charged November 20 in connection with sexual abuse allegations involving three boys during his time as rector of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation nearly 40 years ago.
The Rev. David Norton, 69, currently a part-time professor at King’s University College in the diocese of Huron, is facing three counts of indecent assault on a male, and one count of sexual assault.
According to the London Police Service, the abuse is alleged to have taken place at Norton’s residence in London, Ont., beginning with his arrival in the parish in 1977, when the boys were seven years old, and continuing until his departure in 1983.
Archdeacon Tanya Phibbs, executive archdeacon of the diocese of Huron, said the church had not been aware of any alleged wrongdoing on Norton’s part until the police approached them on November 13 with some enquiries about his history with the diocese. Phibbs said Norton retired from active ministry in 2011, and has not, to her knowledge been involved in any interim ministry since.
King’s University College, where Norton has won awards for his teaching, told the Canadian Press that he had been put on a leave of absence with pay, and that he “will not be teaching [at King’s] while this investigation is ongoing.”
In response to the charges, the diocese of Huron released a statement saying it was “saddened to learn that charges have been laid against the Rev. David Norton,” and asked for prayers for “all those affected by this painful situation.” It also noted that diocesan bishop Robert Bennett had suspended Norton’s permit to function as a priest until the trial reaches its outcome.
If Norton is convicted, Phibbs said it would be up to the Bennett to decide whether or not he is to be de-frocked. She noted, however, that, “In similar cases in the past, the diocesan bishop has deposed priests who have been convicted of sexual assault.”
The London Police Service said that the investigation is continuing, and will include “determining the geographic area for which he was responsible.”
An earlier version of this story wrongly stated that the diocese of Huron was contacted by police about Norton’s history with the diocese in January.