Monday, October 26, 2009

Former Ontario Priest Awaits Extradition on Sex Charges

Original article

A former Canadian priest currently sitting in a Dominican Republic jail cell awaiting extradition to Canada on multiple sexual molestation charges was working as a scuba diving instructor at a hotel before local authorities arrested him this week.

Joao Jose Correira Duarte, a former Windsor, Ont., priest also known as John Duarte, faces nine counts of sexually exploiting 12 to 17-year-old boys in Haiti over a 10-year span. He was arrested Tuesday by Dominican immigration and counter-narcotics agents in a joint operation, local authorities said.

Duarte, 44, had been living quietly in Sousa, Puerto Plata, where he found work at a local hotel, first as a waiter and then as a scuba diving instructor where he mainly taught tourists, according to a statement from the National Directorate for Drug Control.

"John Duarte fled to this area like just another tourist who flock to their northern coast of the country to enjoy the warm beaches, but he decided to stay here and to dedicate himself to teach scuba diving," said directorate spokesman Roberto Lebron.

Duarte allegedly exchanged goods and money for sexual favours with Haitian youth aged 12 to 17 at two hotels in Petion Ville, a sector located in the south of Port-au-Prince, Dominican authorities say. He bought the youths clothes and paid for the lodging of some of his victims' families.

The charges stem from Duarte's alleged conduct with youth between 1995 and 2005 in Haiti, the Ontario Provincial Police said. He was a priest during that time, OPP said.

He was arrested under a section of the Criminal Code which allows Canadian citizens to be prosecuted for some offences committed outside of Canada.

The RCMP's national child exploitation co-ordination centre also participated in the investigation.

Duarte held many posts in the Windsor area between 1996 and 2003. He was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Windsor and pastor-priest at Catholic Central high school from 2000 to 2003.

Duarte's involvement in Haiti dated back to the early 1990s.

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