Ex-Windsor priest arrested for sex abuse in Haiti
A former Windsor priest has been arrested in the Dominican Republic and faces charges of sexually assaulting teenage boys in Haiti, says a local media report.
Father Joao José Correira Duarte, also known as John, 43, was arrested Tuesday at a hotel in Puerto Plata, Hoy Digital, a Spanish-language news website based in Santo Domingo, D.R., reported Wednesday.
He faces 12 charges of sexually assaulting boys aged 12 to 17, the site reported.
Some of the charges date to 1995, when Duarte helped run an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, the site reported.
Duarte had for many years been involved in charity and missionary work in Haiti.
He is a co-founder of Windsor-based Hearts Together for Haiti (HTFHaiti), a charity dedicated to "helping the Haitian community" with educational and medical programs, according to its website and worked for it in Haiti since 2003.
But in June 2006, HTFHaiti chairman Steve McDougall received "a very serious complaint" by email from an adult in Labadie, a village on Haiti's northern coast.
McDougall called an emergency board meeting at which it was decided that a board member would travel to Haiti and confront Duarte directly, McDougall told CBC News.
Duarte did not admit to the allegations, McDougall said. But Duarte did return to Canada less than a week later and resigned from the charity on June 20, McDougall said.
McDougall says his organization alerted police to the allegations.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade confirmed late Wednesday night "the arrest of a Canadian citizen on Oct. 20, in Puerto Plata" but would not confirm if that citizen is Duarte.
"Consular officers at the Canadian mission in Santo Domingo are providing consular assistance and working with local authorities to gather more information," said department spokesperson Dana Cryderman.
"Due to the Privacy Act, no further information is available at this time," Cryderman said.
Duarte is expected to be extradited to Canada, Hoy Digital reported.
Though Duarte has not been associated with HTFHaiti since 2006, his arrest is "very sad for a lot of us concerned with the organization," McDougall said. "John did a lot of good work over the years and it's pretty upsetting it's come to this."