Judge hearing details of sex assault allegations against rural priest at prelim in Humboldt

A judge in Humboldt, Sask., will hear the details Monday of allegations against a local Catholic priest charged with sexual assault.

Fr. Anthony Atter facing multiple allegations from single complainant

Humboldt RCMP laid charges 45-year-old Father Anthony Atter after receiving a report of multiple incidents of a sexual nature that allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, 2020. (Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon)

A provincial court judge in Humboldt, Sask., will hear the evidence today against a local Catholic priest charged with sexual assault.

The preliminary hearing will determine whether Father Anthony Atter will stand trial on the allegations. The 45-year-old faces charges of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference.

The assaults allegedly took place from September to November 2020 and involved one complainant.

"I can tell you that Father Atter is is very interested in being able to testify and be able to give his version of the events," said Atter's lawyer, Brian Pfefferle.

"He feels very confident that when the light gets shone on this unfortunate allegation, that he will be exonerated because he completely denies any thing other than completely appropriate behaviour with anyone he has contact with in that community." 

Sexual interference is a charge laid when the alleged victim is under the age of 16.

Police first learned of the allegations on Nov. 5, according to Humboldt RCMP. Police said multiple sexual incidents allegedly occurred between Sept. 1 and Nov. 4, 2020. 

Atter is the priest responsible for three parishes: St Gregory in Saint Gregor, Sask., St Ann in Annaheim, Sask., and St Anthony in Lake Lenore, Sask. 

Atter was removed from the ministry after the Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon learned of the charges.

Pfefferle suggested that the legacy of abuse by people in positions of trust may have contributed to the charges against Atter.

"The Catholic Church is a community that has suffered as much as any community from from that sort of thing. It creates unfortunate notoriety for someone like Father Atter. But at the same time, I think that we're going to be able to see our justice system work," he said.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to take one day.


Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.