British Columbia

Parishioners 'broken-hearted' at North Van church where charged priest, Gordon Dominey, worked

The bishop of an Anglican diocese where priest Gordon William Dominey worked says her parishioners are "broken-hearted" about his arrest in relation to historical sexual assaults in Edmonton.

'I'm very sad, very sad because I really liked him,' says church-goer

Bishop Melissa Skelton said parishioners are confused and upset about sex assault charges laid against Gordon Dominey, a priest at St. Catherine's Anglican Church in North Vancouver.

The bishop of an Anglican diocese where a priest charged with sex crimes worked since last autumn, says her parishioners are "broken hearted" about his arrest.

Father Gordon William Dominey, 63, is accused of sexually assaulting five youths when he worked at a youth incarceration centre in Edmonton in the 1980s. Dominey later transferred to British Columbia — in 1990 — to the Diocese of New Westminster, where he served as an interim priest at several churches.

He faces five counts of sexual assault and five counts of gross indecency.

At a Sunday service at St. Catherine's Anglican Church in North Vancouver, Bishop Melissa Skelton urged parishioners to pray for Dominey's accusers and the priest as well. 

Outside the church, Skelton said parishioners are feeling confused and "pretty broken-hearted."

Gordon William Dominey in the 1980s (left), and in 2016 (right.) (Supplied)

"I think feelings are all over the map," she said. "Sadness, shock .. trying to just wrap their minds around this news, wishing him well, wanting him to be in a good place, worried about the people who brought the allegations, lots of concern for the parish community."

One church-goer described Dominey as a kind man who brought "good qualities" to the church.

"He was a lovely man," said Heather Peacock.

Priest visited sick

"I'm very sad, very sad because I really liked him," said Peacock. She said Dominey visited her mother in hospital when she broke her hip on Boxing Day.

Meanwhile, Skelton said Dominey was placed on administrative leave "the minute we heard the news about the arrest."

She hasn't had any contact with Edmonton police, who are investigating after two complainants came forward in September, 2015. Three others have since come forward and officers are asking anyone with information about "Father Gord" to contact them.

George Cadman, the chief legal officer for the Diocese of New Westminster, said there was never one complaint about Dominey during his 26 years in B.C.

Skelton said Dominey's police background checks never turned up any impropriety.

"We in this diocese have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of sexual misconduct," she said. "All of our priests and lay people who work with vulnerable people have had police background checks. His was clear."

with files by Meera Bains