Retired Ontario priest pleads guilty to 47 sex charges

A retired priest in southwestern Ontario pleaded guilty Thursday to 47 charges related to sexual assaults against young female victims that took place between 1954 and 1990.

A retired Roman Catholic priest on Thursday pleaded guilty in acourt in Chatham, Ont., to 47 charges stemmingfrom sexual assaults against young females between1954 and 1990.

Wearing his collar, Charles Sylvestre, 83, of Belle River, Ont., stood in court and said guilty 47 times. The charges includedindecent assault,sexual assaultand sexual intercourse with a female under 14 years of age.

Many of Sylvestre's victims, some of whom were as young as nine years old when the assaults took place, attendedthe hearing in apacked courtroom. Victims wiped away tears and hugged each other as Sylvestre spoke.

The court began hearing victim impact statements after the retired priest finished pleading guilty to the charges.

All theincidents occurredin parishes throughout southwestern Ontario, includingWindsor, London, Sarnia, Chatham-Kent and Pain Court.

Police started investigating in the spring of 2004 after one woman came forward.

Sylvestre was arrested in July 2005. He had been out on bail since his arrest.