Priest’s notorious sex abuse may be linked to church blaze: Reverend

London Free Press

November 2, 2020

By Norman De Bono

Chippewas of the Thames First Nation – Simmering anger and hurt here over sexual misconduct by a former priest may have fueled Sunday fires that destroyed two churches, including one where he procured his young victims.

That’s the perspective of Rev. Canon Gaye Whippey at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, which was gutted by a fire at about 6 a.m. Sunday. Another fire several hours earlier destroyed the South Caradoc United Church on Muncey Road.

“I think it may be anger from things that happened, that may have something to do with it,” Whippey told The London Free Press on Sunday.

“It has been very difficult to work with the fact that someone had experienced something negative from a church person.”

Disgraced former Anglican priest David Norton was the rector at St. Andrews in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 2018 he was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault of boys at the church. At the time of that conviction Norton was serving a four-year prison term for assaulting a boy at a London church a decade after he left the First Nations community.

“I think people know there’s anger against the church that goes back to him,” Whippey said. “I have spoken to people who hurt.”

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