New Brunswick

Retired N.B. priest pleads guilty to sex offences

A retired priest from the Acadian Peninsula has pleaded guilty to 18 sex-related offences involving 14 young boys.

A retired priest from the Acadian Peninsula has pleaded guilty to 18 sex-related offences involving 14 young boys.

Levi Noel, 83, entered his pleas in a crowded Tracadie-Sheila courtroom on Wednesday.

The charges include 13 counts of indecent assault, four counts of gross indecency and one count of assault. Twelve other charges were withdrawn.

All of the charges stem from incidents that occurred between 1959 and 1981, when Noel was a priest in the diocese of Bathurst.

The victims were between the ages of eight and 16 at the time, the court heard.

There is a publication ban on the names of the victims, but three of them asked to be excluded from the ban to help bring light to the issue.

Conrad Brideau, Donald Landry and Lowell Mallais, who are all in their late 50s, held a brief news conference following the court appearance.

The men started the meeting with a moment of silence for Noel's victims, some of whom have committed suicide. They have declined to comment on the case until Noel is sentenced.

A sentencing hearing will be held on Jan. 20 at 2 p.m., when victim impact statements are expected to be presented to the court.

The maximum sentence for gross indecency is five years in prison, while indecent assault on a minor carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Crown prosecutor Pierre Gionet told the court he will be seeking a sentence of between six and nine years.

Noel, who now lives in Quebec, will be sentenced on Jan. 22 at 9:30 a.m. He remains in the community. He was ordered to have no contact with the victims and to advise the RCMP of any address change.

Meanwhile, the RCMP investigation continues. Police believe there are other victims and are asking people to come forward.

The investigation into allegations against Noel began in May 2008 after one person came forward, breaking 30 years of silence.