Members of a Scarborough church are in shock after their priest was charged in connection with a sexual assault.
Police allege a woman went to All Saints Romanian Orthodox Church at 545 Danforth Rd. where she was sexually assaulted Sept. 3.
A couple who entered the church interrupted the assault.
On Wednesday, Sept. 11, police arrested 54-year-old Ioan Pop and charged him with sexual assault.
Magda Popescu, president of the church’s ladies’ auxiliary, said Pop has been the priest at All Saints since he came to Canada about 14 years ago.
“Actually he built this church, of course with the help of the community, but he was always working hard,” she said. “Really, I cannot say anything bad about him.”
Popescu described Pop as a “very good priest” who kept the community together.
“Everyone is shocked,” she said.
“I don’t know what to believe now...I hope that the truth will come out.”
About 100 families are members of All Saints.
Popescu said she has known Pop and his family for about 12 years.
“A short time after he came (to Canada) he lost one of his daughters,” she said. “We’ve been very close to them because they went through so much.”
Popescu said Pop’s oldest daughter passed away from an illness at age 15 about 12 years ago.
Popescu said she spoke to Pop’s wife after hearing on Friday morning that he had been charged.
“Of course she’s shocked, and they are trying to deal with everything,” she said. “But definitely we’ll help them, and I guess the community will still be together.”
Pop is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 15.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-4100 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).