A priest appeared in a western Newfoundland courtroom Wednesday on more than three dozen counts connected to complaints of sexual abuse that date back more than four decades.

George Ansel Smith appeared at provincial court in Corner Brook on 38 separate charges, including gross indecency, indecent assault, assault and sexual assault.

Smith had turned himself in to police earlier in the day.

The charges related to incidents alleged to have happened between 1969 and 1989.

The incidents are alleged to have happened in a string of communities along the west coast where Smith had been working as a Roman Catholic priest.

CBC News reported in 2010 that the RCMP was investigating a complaint connected to the time when Smith worked in Deer Lake.

Sgt. Boyd Merrill said Tuesday the charges are the result of a 16-month investigation.

Smith, who was released on a surety of $10,000, is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 23.

In May 2010, Smith was removed from his duties as a church administrator in Kinkora, P.E.I.

A publication ban on the new charges is in effect.