“All she wanted was a positive male role model for her nine-year-old son.
Instead, the single mother got parish priest David Norton, a sexual predator.
The facts supporting the sexual interference conviction of Norton, 72, a retired Anglican priest and former instructor at King’s University College, describe mentoring, grooming and then assaults.
Norton pleaded guilty a week ago to sexual interference involving the boy, now 34, who kept the abuse a secret until other charges involving children were laid against Norton in 2015.
While those charges are heading to trial in April, Norton has admitted to the abuse of his young charge from St. Mark’s church in London, where Norton had served as priest.
Assistant Crown attorney Chris Heron told Superior Court Justice Lynne Leitch the relationship between priest and boy, whose identity is protected by court order, began in 1991. The boy’s mother saw Norton as “a role model.”
For the next four years, Norton and the boy were often alone at the priest’s house, the boy’s house, in Norton’s camping trailer or his 1986 grey Mazda truck.
Norton took the boy on countless camping trips across Ontario, including Collingwood, Manitoulin Island, Sudbury, Gravenhurst, Aylmer conservation area, Hawk’s Cliff, Port Stanley and Port Bruce.
On those trips, they would go skinny dipping and sleep in the trailer, often “spooning” in bed. Norton told the boy that was how he could keep him warm.
The sexual activity escalated on these trips.
Norton taught the boy how to drive. There were sex acts while Norton was behind the wheel and when the boy was driving.
The priest taught the boy how to French kiss. When they kissed, Norton would be engaged in a sex act.
By the time the boy was 13 in 1995, his peers at school would tease him about his relationship with Norton.
He told his mother he didn’t want to maintain the relationship with Norton, Heron said.
The relationship ended. The memory of what happened did not.
The boy kept the details of what happened secret for years, only telling select people.
But two years ago, he became aware of other sex charges laid against Norton and he went to the police.
Norton’s defence lawyer, Gordon Cudmore, in accepting the facts read into the record, told Leitch he and the Crown agreed there was “never any physical violence” involved. Outside of the courtroom, Cudmore was asked to elaborate.
“By definition, any sexual assault or sexual interference is a form of physical violence. We concede that and we’re not trying to deny that,” he said.
“All I was saying was beyond that physical violence, there was no other gratuitous or extraneous violence that we sometimes see in these cases.”
Cudmore said his client is “accepting responsibility” and “expressing remorse for his actions.”
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 23. That’s when a victim impact statement and a pre-sentence report will be discussed.
Norton’s legal woes won’t end there. He is slated to begin a five-day trial on April 16 related to charges laid in November 2015: three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault involving three Indigenous boys who were seven years old in 1977.
Norton was the priest at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation in 1977. He also worked in the Yukon.
While retired from full-time work in the Diocese of Huron in 2011, Norton continued to fill in for vacationing priests until his suspension upon being charged.
He also was a part-time history professor at King’s, winning a teaching award in 2013. He was placed on leave at the time of his charges.”