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Retired priest charged with indecent assault after Canadian boarding school investigation

A retired priest has been charged with indecent assault following a decade-long investigation into a residential school in Manitoba, Canadian police said Friday.

Arthur Masse, 92, was arrested and charged Thursday with a single charge of indecent assault on a 10-year-old girl at the Fort Alexander residential school in Manitoba.

Masse’s assault took place between 1968 and 1970 when the girl was a student and the allegations were made in February 2010. A criminal investigation was opened in 2011.

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“The size and scope of this investigation required many years of investigative work,” said Sgt. Paul Manaigre, media relations officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Manitoba.

The school was built on Sagkeeng First Nation territory and closed in 1970. Reuters could not immediately reach the priest or his lawyer for comment.

Canada’s residential school system operated between 1831 and 1996 to assimilate Indigenous children. They were run by several Christian denominations on behalf of the government, most by the Catholic Church.

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A 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada documented the atrocities, including rape and malnutrition, suffered by many children who attended the schools.

RCMP officers said they obtained 75 witness and victim statements, but due to the passage of time, many were unable to participate.

“The emotional trauma experienced by victims of abuse is very real, and despite the years that have passed between the alleged events and when police were investigating, that trauma is still present,” Manaigre said.

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This is the only ongoing residential school investigation by the Manitoba RCMP, he added.

Pope Francis will visit Canada at the end of July and is expected to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in running schools.

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Post expires at 2:33pm on Tuesday June 28th, 2022