RCMP seek victims in priest sex abuse case
RCMP in northern New Brunswick are urging anyone with allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in the Diocese of Bathurst between 1958 and 1978 to come forward.
Levi Noel, 83, a retired priest, is facing 22 charges of sexual assault stemming from incidents involving boys aged eight to 16 at the time.
He's scheduled to appear in court in Tracadie-Sheila on Aug. 26 to answer to 12 counts of gross indecency, nine counts of indecent assault and one count of assault against 10 males, who were all minors.
Tracadie-Sheila RCMP Insp. Roch Fortin said Thursday there are likely other victims who haven’t come forward.
"I know sometimes it’s very difficult, but it’s one step toward seeking help, and finding assistance. The assistance is there, and the support is there," Fortin said.
Nadia Losier, who runs a 24-hour sexual assault crisis line in Tracadie-Sheila, expects that news of the charges against Noel will prompt an increase in calls.
"It is important to come forward, to not let these abusers go on. It’s never too late to come forward," she said.
"So, it might affect other victims … or victims will tell themselves that, you know, it’s not their fault. So, they should come forward. There is support out there."
Noel was a priest on the Acadian Peninsula for about 30 years. He is now retired and living in Quebec.
Fortin said the police investigation into allegations against Noel began in May 2008 after one person came forward, breaking 30 years of silence.
The investigation found 10 men who claim the priest abused them when they were boys, he said.
Fortin said they know of five other alleged victims, but four of them decided not to take legal action and the file of the fifth did not contain sufficient evidence to lay charges.