Ukrainian Priest Charged with Sex Offences

By Richard Liebrecht
Edmonton Sun
March 6, 2009

A long-serving Edmonton-area reverend has been charged with sexual offences against a young girl.

Rev. Don Bodnar, a 55-year-old Ukrainian Catholic priest currently serving in Athabasca, was charged with sexual assault and sexual interference - a charge laid when the case involves a person under 16 - and was suspended in January, according to Ukrainian Catholic Rev. William Hupalo.

"I was kind of sickened to the stomach when we heard about it ... this is not good for us," Hupalo said. "Why things like this happen blows my mind."

The charges were not publicly released by the church, and just came to light.

A statement from the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy given to CTV News said, "the current situation has nothing to do with the ministry."

Bodnar has served as a deacon or pastor for four Ukrainian Catholic churches around Edmonton for 28 years.

"The eparchy does have a sexual abuse protocol, and the protocol was put into force at that time ... part of that protocol asks the accused clergyman to take an administrative leave," continued the statement.

Hupalo said he was never told to keep the charges secret. Now that the charges are public, though, he's worried about the effect on the church as word spreads.

"People start gossiping - that's the worst thing you can do," he said. "Unless you have solid evidence, keep quiet."

"I just pray and hope everything comes clean in the wash for everyone," he said, noting the charges are a matter for the courts.

Still, he thinks the church will be damaged by the charges.

"Certainly, when they see a church leader (allegedly) doing that, people will lose faith and walk away from the church," Hupalo said.

"Clergy must be extremely careful about their appearance in public."



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