Former Tecumseh priest Robert Couture found guilty of theft
A jury has found former Tecumseh priest Robert Couture guilty of theft over $5,000.
Members of the 12 person jury began deliberating Wednesday night and returned with a verdict Thursday morning.
Couture, a former priest at Ste. Anne Roman Catholic Church, was facing one count of theft over $5,000.
The defense team of Couture is disappointed that their client has been found responsible for the stealing money from the Tecumseh church.
"He's very disappointed,” says defence lawyer Pat Ducharme. “It's definitely a serious matter for him. It’s life-altering because he loves to teach and he loves what he did with the church, so all those things will probably change but that's what happens when you have a result like this."
Couture was accused of stealing as much as $230,000 over an eight-year period.
"I don't know exactly what they considered, but I think this was a case about credibility," says Ducharme.
Essex County OPP completed a lengthy investigation dating back to 2002, after parish officials noticed financial irregularities in 2011.
“He thought he had a fairly effective method of distributing money to the right people who were entitled to the funds,” says Ducharme. “That's his belief."
Crown attorney Tom Meehan says to him it was straight forward.
"The church and the parishioners trusted this person and their trust was violated," says Meehan.
Meehan says the criminal justice system has taken its course.
“We hope and pray that the verdict and subsequent sentencing may bring some measure of closure for all those involved."
The priest has been released with a promise to appear in February to learn what his sentence will be.