Peterborough Bishop Miehm releases statement regarding charges laid against priest
Police have arrested and charged a Peterborough priest with the alleged sexual assault and sexual interference of a person under the age of 16.
In a media release issued on Wednesday, July 26, police said investigators with the Peterborough Police Service’s Sexual Offences Unit charged Father Neil Pereira with sexual assault and sexual interference.
Sexual Interference is when a person, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years.
“The accused is an ordained Priest with the Catholic Church and has been working in the City of Peterborough since late 2022,” say police. “Investigators are in contact with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough, who are co-operating with Investigators.”
While police do not normally release the names of the accused, police say Pereira’s identity is “being released as the nature of the offences leads us to concerns there may be other victims.”
The accused will appear in court on Aug. 8.
Police say they are not releasing any more information about this case as it is now before the courts.
Soon after the police release was issued, Bishop Daniel Miehm, with Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough, released a statement.
Here is Bishop Miehm's statement verbatim:
“The Peterborough Police Services charged Father Neil Pereira today with sexual interference and sexual assault of a minor. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough received an allegation in June of sexual and professional misconduct involving Fr. Neil Pereira. The allegation was immediately reported to the Children’s Aid Society and the Peterborough Police Services. Fr. Pereira was removed from pastoral ministry upon receipt of the allegation. Fr. Pereira is a priest from the Archdiocese of Toronto on loan for campus ministry in the Diocese of Peterborough. The officials of the Archdiocese of Toronto have been kept informed by the Diocese of Peterborough throughout this process, including the laying of criminal charges today.
All allegations of abuse and/or misconduct are addressed seriously and thoroughly in accordance with the Diocesan policy. No further statement will be released at this time, as this matter is now before the Courts. Please pray for all those who are impacted by this difficult situation."
In Peterborough, Pereira was appointed as the campus minister for Trent University and Fleming College in 2022 through Peterborough Campus Ministry. On its website, Pereira is listed as director. The mission of Peterborough Campus Ministry is to accompany students of Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College into a personal and life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ, according to the group's website.
"On behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough (Ontario), we support and collaborate with the Catholic Council of Trent and Fleming College Catholics, the respective registered student associations on both campuses," reads the site.
According to the Archdiocese of Toronto's Facebook page, Father Pereira was ordained on June 27, 2020.
"Newly ordained Fr. Neil Pereira was born in Manama, Bahrain, grew up in Mumbai, India, and eventually immigrated to Canada," reads a Facebook post from July 1, 2020.
According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough’s website Pereira served as associate pastor at St. Isaac Jogues Parish in Pickering as well.
Published on July 26, 2023