OTTAWA (CCN) — An Ottawa priest has been charged with two counts each of sexual assault and sexual interference involving a minor under 16.
Rev. Stephen Amesse, 56, was released on $5,000 bail Dec. 4, and ordered to stay away from children. The Ottawa Police Service Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Section (SACA) laid the charges after a nine-month investigation of a 2008 sexual assault that took place in a west end Ottawa church.
“In late February 2014, investigators received a complaint and commenced an investigation into allegations of sexual assault involving a reverend and a young boy who was 14 years old at the time of the offence,” said the Ottawa police in a news release.
“When Father Stephen Amesse was criminally charged today, following diocesan protocols in such matters, he was suspended immediately from all ministry,” said Ottawa archdiocese’s communications officer Sarah Du Broy in a news release.
“Archbishop Prendergast extends to the parishioners of St. Patrick’s Fallowfield, where Father Amesse is pastor, the assurance of his prayers and pastoral care,” the news release said. “These are painful moments in the life of a faith community. May the parishioners know the spiritual support of our entire Catholic community.”
A late vocation to the priesthood, Amesse was ordained in 1999 at age 41. Though he studied at Saint Paul University in the 1980s, Amesse worked in politics for various Liberal politicians, including Industry Minister John Manley and as a researcher for Senator Anne Cools.
Amesse was one of the lay advisers on the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’s document From Pain to Hope: Report from the CCCB Ad Hoc Committee on Child Sexual Abuse that issued guidelines for preventing sexual abuse by priests and male religious, for the care and support of victims and their families, for the rehabilitation of offenders and for breaking the cycle of abuse.
As a layman from the political world, Amesse participated on one of several working groups that provided consultation to the committee that drafted the document. At the time he was a Senate research assistant. Before being assigned to St. Patrick’s Fallowfield, Amesse oversaw the construction of Holy Spirit Parish in Ottawa’s Stittsville section.
He received the 2010 Don Bosco Awards Gala’s Heart of Youth Ministry award and served as spiritual director for the Challenge Movement.