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North Vancouver priest faces sexual assault charges

By Tali Folkins on February, 09 2016
 Edmonton police provided photos of the Rev. Gordon Dominey, in the1980s (left), and in 2016 (right). 

The priest-in-charge at a North Vancouver Anglican church has been arrested and charged with a number of sexual assault offences against youth allegedly committed in the 1980s.

 On Saturday, February 6, Edmonton police announced they were charging the Rev. Gordon Dominey in connection with sexual assaults alleged to have taken place at the Edmonton Youth Development Centre, a youth jail. Dominey, 63, who worked as a prison chaplain at the facility from 1985-1989, is facing five counts of sexual assault and five counts of gross indecency, an offence that was removed from the Criminal Code in 1985.

The charges involve five complainants, who were aged 14-17 at the time, the police said.

Police told the CBC February 6 they believed more allegations may come to light.

“There’s a lot of complexities with sexual assaults, and it’s generally known that is an underreported crime to police,” Edmonton Police Staff Sergeant Devin Laforce said. “We believe that the accused was very actively offending between the years of 1985 to 1989...We also don’t believe we have the whole story as far as what this accused was doing during that time frame.”

Their investigations of reports of sexual assaults at the jail began September 2015, police said. There were two initial complainants; three more came forward to make allegations as the investigation proceeded. Police are asking for anyone with information about Dominey to contact them.

George Cadman, chancellor and chief legal officer for the diocese of New Westminster, told the CBC there had never been any complaints made to the diocese about Dominey throughout the 26 years he spent in B.C.

On February 9, an Edmonton Police Service spokesperson, who did not wish to be identified, told the Anglican Journal the police would not be releasing any more details about the investigation at this time.

“I can confirm generally that the information officers have received led them to believe there may have been other complainants,” the spokesperson said. But...any information they would have received is so new right now it needs to be followed up investigatively first.”

After working as a chaplain at the youth facility, Dominey in 1990 switched to working as an interim parish priest, and transferred from the diocese of Edmonton to the diocese of New Westminster.

According to a statement released by New Westminster Bishop Melissa Skelton, Dominey was serving as priest-in-charge at St. Catherine’s Anglican Church, in North Vancouver, until his arrest February 4.

“Consistent with diocesan practice, Reverend Dominey has been placed on administrative leave,” Skelton said. “I am offering ongoing pastoral care and support to Gordon in what must be a very difficult time for him. This support will continue as the legal process unfolds.

“He is entitled to a presumption of innocence and I ask for your prayers for Gordon, for all those who are involved in this legal process and for those bringing forth the allegations against him.”

The diocese has not received any more information from police about the charges against Dominey, diocesan spokesperson Randy Murray said on February 9.

On February 7, Skelton made a pastoral visit to St. Catherine’s Anglican Church, preaching a sermon in which she addressed the charges.

“I can only imagine how you’re feeling this morning as you try to absorb the news of the arrest of your interim priest, the Rev. Gordon Dominey, by the authorities in Edmonton,” she said. “For me, the last few days have been a combination of shock, worry and, of course, concern for those bringing the allegations, and for all involved in the case in Edmonton, concern for this parish and concern for Gordon himself.

“…It seems to me that we’re holding a number of things in our hands at the same time: the feelings of grief or anger or confusion that come with hearing shocking news about someone we know, the feelings of empathy and even identification with those bringing allegations, and, then, because we are Christians, the question of where God is in this situation,” she said.

Skelton said she and those with her representing the diocese would do whatever they could to answer questions and otherwise help parishioners struggling with the news. She also reassured any parishioners with “personal experience that the allegations touch on” that pastoral care would be available for them.

Skelton then met with parishioners in a town hall-style meeting in the parish hall. She and Cadman offered to take questions from parishioners. She then made a list of “more than a dozen” questions and answered them together with Cadman, according to a news release from the diocese.

“Many of the questions and comments expressed concern for Reverend Dominey and his current situation regarding his location, legal counsel and immediate future,” the release states. “There were also questions of concern about those who have brought the allegations against Reverend Dominey and a number of statements and questions to do with the immediate future of worship and programming at the parish.”

Skelton also wrote a letter to the parents and guardians of children attending a preschool at the church, and on February 9, Archdeacon of Capilano Lynne McNaughton visited the preschool to take any questions from parents.

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By Tali Folkins| February, 09 2016

About the Author

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer

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