VOCM [St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada]
February 6, 2024
An Avondale priest charged with sexual assault had his case called for the first time in provincial court this morning.
Forty-nine-year-old Thomas Offong was charged two months ago following an investigation by RCMP in Holyrood.
They have only said the alleged incident occurred on November 23 in Avondale, and involved a woman.
There is a publication ban on her identity.
Offong is a Roman Catholic priest who has served in Avondale, Colliers, Conception Harbour and Burin, but also the Grand Falls-Windsor area.
He was not required to be in the courtroom this morning—instead represented by his lawyer on the phone, who told Judge Harold Porter that the disclosure evidence has been received, but they’ll need some time to review it.
Notably, the Crown said it will proceed by summary conviction, the less serious route, instead of by indictment.
The Bishop of Grand Falls, Rev. Robert Daniels, said in a statement that the Diocese has been cooperating fully with the investigation, noting the first concern is the wellbeing of those who bring forward such allegations.
He also urged everyone to reserve judgement until the court process is complete.
Offong has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of the case, which returns to court on March 22.