A retired Anglican priest and award-winning university lecturer who served a First Nations congregation west of London almost 40 years ago is facing historic sexual assault charges involving three boys.
David Norton, 69, was charged Friday with three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault.
London police said Norton was released from police headquarters and will make his first court appearance on Jan. 7.
The allegations involve the sexual abuse of three First Nations boys who were seven years old in 1977.
Police said the assaults happened at a London residence and continued until 1983.
Norton was the priest at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church at Chippewa-On-The-Thames in 1977.
Archdeacon Tanya Phibbs of the Diocese of Huron said Norton retired from the full-time clergy in 2011 but still filled in at churches periodically to cover for holidays.
“Our diocesan bishop, once we learned of the charges, suspended Mr. Norton’s general permit, which means he can’t function as a priest,” she said.
That status won’t change for now and Phibbs said they are waiting for the criminal proceedings to unfold.
Norton wasn’t in any formal interim relationship with a church, she said. The diocese learned of the investigation from police a week ago.
“In the meantime, the diocese is certainly keeping prayer for those who are affected, those who assist them and everybody who’s going to be involved in the next while as it moves through the criminal justice system,” Phibbs said.
Norton’s most recent church affiliation was with St. Mark’s in London. He also spent time about 30 years ago in the Yukon.
He has been a part-time history professor at King’s University College at Western University since 2003. This semester he was teaching a course entitled Totalitarianism.
In 2013, Norton won the college’s part-time teaching award. It was noted then that he had taught “a variety of history courses at various levels over many years and made the dean’s honour roll for teaching excellence without fail.”
At that time Norton specialized in First Nations history and “has had a strong connection with the local First Nations reservations for decades.”
King’s spokesperson Jane Antoniak said Norton has been placed on a leave of absence with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
“We’ve been made aware of this situation by the London police and the fact that an investigation is being conducted which is in no way related to King’s University College,” she said.
Published on November 20, 2015