Edmonton police have charged an Anglican priest with sexual assault in relation to incidents that allegedly occurred in an Edmonton youth incarceration facility during the 1980s.

Father Gordon William Dominey allegedly sexually assaulted five youths while he was employed at the Edmonton Youth Development Centre in the 1980s. The assaults are reported to have happened at the incarceration facility from 1985 to 1989.

Dominey transferred from the Diocese of Edmonton to the Diocese of New Westminster in Vancouver in July of 1990. He has worked in numerous parishes as an interim priest, which is a clergyman specifically assigned for 6 to 16 months to help churches in transition.

George Cadman, Chief legal officer for the Diocese of New Westminster

George Cadman, chief legal officer for the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, says Gordon William Dominey underwent regular legal screening as all priests with the Anglican Church of Canada do. (http://www.boughtonlaw.com/)

"So he was a prison chaplain and then he moved into parish ministry as an interim priest," said George Cadman, the chief legal officer for the Diocese of New Westminster.

He was the priest-in-charge at St. Catherine's Anglican Church in North Vancouver from the summer of 2015 until he was arrested on Thursday Feb, 4. when the Bishop of New Westminster, Melissa Skelton, placed Dominey on administrative leave, according to a release.

Presumption of innocence

"I am offering ongoing pastoral care and support to Gordon in what must be a very difficult time for him," wrote Skelton.

"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 63-year-old was arrested in Coquitlam, B.C.

He is charged with five counts of sexual assault and five counts of gross indecency.

Police began the investigating reports of sexual assaults at the facility in Sept. 2015, and believe there may be more victims and witnesses. 

Victims asked to come forward

Two complainants initially came forward, Staff Sgt. Devin Laforce said. As the investigation progressed, three more people came to police. All of the victims were between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time of the alleged offences, Laforce said.

"There's a lot of complexities with sexual assaults, and it's generally known that is an underreported crime to police," he said. "It took them a period of time until they were ready to come forward."

EPS is asking anyone with information about "Father Gord" to contact them. 

"We believe that the accused was very actively offending between the years of 1985 to 1989," Laforce said. "We also don't believe we have the whole story as far as what this accused was doing during that time frame."

Regular screening

Meanwhile, Cadman says there has never been a complaint about Dominey during his 26 years in B.C.

"He has always been, I thought, well respected, wherever he went. And as I said, no complaints," said Cadman, adding that the Anglican Church of Canada has a zero tolerance policy towards matters of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment.

"We have had [a policy] in place for at least the last 15 years where there is the opportunity for anybody to bring forward a complaint if they choose to do so," he said.

"And no complaints have ever been brought forward. I, frankly, as chief legal officer of the diocese, I would know if they had, and certainly none have been brought forward in respect of Gordon Dominey."

The Diocese also has a program called screening in faith, which requires all clergy who work with vulnerable people to take part in. Cadman says, because of this program, Dominey would have a criminal record check every two years.

"His last criminal record check was absolutely clean .. filed with the diocese in 2015," said Cadman. "So no suggestion of any impropriety at any stage in this diocese."