An undated photo of Ste Anne's Parish in Tecumseh, Ontario. Photo/courtesy of Ste-Anne's Parish, Tecumseh via Facebook

Windsor priest jailed for stealing from parish

  • October 5, 2016

WINDSOR, ONT. – A Windsor priest was sentenced to 10 months in jail and ordered to repay $75,000 to his former parish after a judge ruled the pastor preyed on victims who "were vulnerable given their faith and trust in their priest.”

Fr. Robert Couture, 53, was found guilty in December of theft over $5,000 for crimes committed from 2002 to 2010 at Ste. Anne Parish in Tecumseh, Ont. The exact amount he stole is unknown but the jury heard it was probably between $160,000 and $230,000.

The trial heard that he used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle that included European and Caribbean vacations, an expensive car, fine clothes and other extravagances. He maintained a secret bank account in which he deposited money taken from weekly collections, donations and revenue from events like funerals, weddings and baptisms.

“Most members of our community would find the offender’s actions repugnant,” said Superior Court Justice Scott Campbell.

The priest has been on administrative leave since 2010 and will not be returning to a parish, according to the London diocese. He had been working as a factory labourer and won't be laicized, according to a report in the Windsor Star.

“He has suffered a substantial fall from grace,” said Campbell.

Assistant Crown attorney Tom Meehan called the sentence "appropriate" given Couture’s breach of the trust with his parishioners. He said the parish and the community was harmed by Couture's actions in this so "sad a story."

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