PEI

Harold Alan Stewart, P.E.I. Presbyterian minister, charged with fraud in Ontario

A Presbyterian minister on P.E.I. has been charged by Durham regional police in Ontario with defrauding an 89-year-old widow from Oshawa of thousands of dollars.

'It certainly caught us as a Presbytery by surprise'

Harold Alan Stewart is currently on a leave of absence. (St. John's Presbyterian Church/Facebook)

A Presbyterian minister on P.E.I. has been charged by Durham regional police in Ontario with defrauding an 89-year old widow from Oshawa of thousands of dollars.

Harold Alan Stewart, 67, was arrested on April 29 while on vacation in Ontario.

It's alleged he befriended the elderly woman and used her credit card without her knowledge.

Police noted there are charges pending against other people as well.

Released from custody

Stewart, who is a minister with the Kensington-New London Pastoral charge, is charged with fraud under $5,000, unauthorized use of a credit card, and possession of stolen property.

Police are not aware of any other allegations against Stewart.

He was held for a bail hearing and released on April 30.

The moderator of the Presbytery on P.E.I., Rev. Steven Stead, said they received word Tuesday afternoon.

A leave of absence

He said it caught everyone by surprise.

"Right now Rev. Stewart is in Ontario dealing with the situation ... He will be on a leave of absence from the congregation until such a time that the matter is settled," Stead said.

"What he is saying at this point is that these charges are false and he will be going forward and seeking and proclaiming his innocence. It certainly caught us as a Presbytery by surprise and our thoughts and prayers are with the congregation at this time and with Rev. Stewart as well and the other individual involved in the case."

Durham police said there are no other alleged victims.

Stewart's next court appearance is scheduled for June 6 at the Durham region courthouse.

He has been released with conditions including that he remains in Ontario and that he have no communication with the alleged victim.

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