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Guilty plea expected in former N.W.T. priest’s indecent assault case

A former N.W.T. priest is expected to plead guilty to a charge of indecent assault that goes back decades in Fort Simpson on Monday, according to lawyers on both sides of the matter. 

Camille Piché, a priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was charged on Dec. 21 last year with indecent assault against one alleged victim in Fort Simpson between Jan. 1, 1981 and Dec. 31, 1982. 

Piché held appointments in a range of missionary and pastoral roles in the N.W.T. from 1964 to 1978, and again from 1981 to 1986, said the Oblates. Photos in the N.W.T. Archives show he spent time in a number of communities in the South Slave, the Sahtú, Dettah and Yellowknife. 

He was also a priest in Fort Simpson when Pope John Paul II visited the community in 1987.

Crown prosecutor Annie Piché, who said she has no relationship to Camille Piché, told CBC News the matter was expected to be resolved on Monday by way of a guilty plea, and that a sentencing is expected to take place at the same time. 

She also said Piché, who was 85-years old when he was charged in December, is expected to be at the hearing in Fort Simpson in person. Court documents show he was living in Winnipeg at the time the charge was laid.

Alexander Koustov is part of a team of lawyers defending the former N.W.T. priest. He confirmed to CBC News his client is expected to plead guilty on Monday. 

CBC News requested additional comment from Koustov, as well as Piché’s other lawyer, George Green. They did not respond by publication time. 

Father Ken Thorson, the leader of Lacombe, an Oblate religious order, told CBC News back in March that Piché had been removed from public ministry in 2019 and placed on “active monitoring” after the organization received a complaint about him.

Thorson confirmed Monday the monitoring arrangement and Piché’s removal from ministry had not changed. 

Back in March, Thorson wouldn’t say more about the nature of the complaint citing the privacy of the individual who brought it forward. He did say, however, it was related to the organization’s safeguarding policy — a guide for how the Oblates handle allegations of sexual abuse.

It’s unclear whether the individual who made a complaint against Piché to the Oblates is also the complainant in the indecent assault charge. 

Thorson said Piche had been living at an independent living centre that was not owned or administered by the Oblates.

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