Sexual abuse of First Nations boys an ‘abhorrent breach of trust’: London judge sentences ex-priest

Chippewa of the Thames First Nation Chief, Myeengun Henry, led a smudging ceremony outside the courthouse after David Norton was sentenced for the sexual abuse of four First Nation boys. Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL

A disgraced Anglican priest “forever stained the white collar” that he wore, said the London judge in charge of delivering his second sentencing in under a year.

Norton, a 72-year-old man who is already serving a four-year prison term for sexually abusing a young boy in the ’90s, was sentenced to another nine years behind bars for the sexual abuse of four altar boys at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Chippewa of the Thames First Nation decades ago.

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Superiour Court Justice Lynda Templeton found Norton guilty on three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault last November, and on Friday said he was a “man divided.”

“Mr. Norton purported to be a man of God,” she told the courtroom, calling his actions in the ’70s and ’80s, a “profound and abhorrent breach of trust.”

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David Norton leaves the courthouse, after pleading guilty to a charge of sexual interference in a separate case on Feb. 28, 2018. Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

Norton maintained he was innocent throughout the trial, admitting that he invited boys to his home to treat them to things like day trips, movies, and food that their families couldn’t afford. He also testified that the boys would wear their street clothes to bed, and he had no physical contact with them beyond hugs.

The victims — whose identities are protected by a publication ban — testified that Norton would offer them pajamas to sleep in, and would sleep in the same bed with them despite any objections they had.

The complainants testified they would often wake up groggy and covered in a substance they only later realized was semen, and that they would have some recollection of Norton touching them inappropriately in the night.

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After the judge delivered her decision, victims and their supporters clapped, shed tears, and embraced one another. They then gathered outside the courthouse to participate in a smudging ceremony led by Chippewa of the Thames First Nation Chief Myeengun Henry.

“Your nation is so proud of you today,” said Henry, addressing the four now-middle-aged victims.

“We stand proud because of what your actions have brought to a person who damaged our community.”

One of the victims told the media he was pleased with Templeton’s decision, and said it had an “immense” impact on his healing journey.

“I would be a different person without this, I wouldn’t have made it here. I would have died long ago, probably by my own hand, because of the suffering and disillusion,” he said.

“I loved [Norton]. He was my mentor, he was my older brother, just looking at him today even is extremely difficult.”

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Another victim said the drawn out court process — victim impact statements were delayed twice — caused him emotional suffering, but that he “took to heart” the judge’s message for him.

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Templeton urged the four men to use their unique set of experiences, acquired through pain and loss, to help the community and other children who’ve been abused in similar situations.

“I look at that as a gift,” the victim said. “A gift of wisdom, and appreciation.”

Norton was sentenced to nine years for each of the four charges, to be served concurrently. That prison term will begin after he’s finished his current four-year sentence.

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