A Ste. Anne’s priest is facing theft charges after a financial audit of the parishes’ accounts yielded about $180,000 in irregularities, according to Essex County OPP.   

Provincial police have completed a lengthy theft investigation dating back to 2002. 

Officials from Ste. Anne Parish in Tecumseh notified the OPP in August of 2011 regarding an internal theft that occurred between 2002 and 2010.

Father Robert Couture, 49, of Windsor, was arrested and charged with one count of theft over $5,000.

“My reaction is one of disappointment and surprise,” says Father Eugene Roy, current pastor at Ste. Anne. “And we're saddened by this kind of activity."

The Diocese of London said in a news release Couture left the parish in 2010 and was granted a personal leave of absence. Diocese of London policy states when there is a change in the pastor of a parish, an audit of the parish’s finances is completed. 

Diocese of London auditors raised a number of questions, including a number of expenses charged to the parish and a previously unknown bank account in the parish’s name.
As a result, Dave Savel, the diocesan episcopal director of administrative services, requested an independent forensic audit by KPMG Forensics. KPMG completed their work in 2011, discovering a minimum of $169,000 in missing funds.

An insurance claim was filed, and the parish recovered the $169,000, according to the diocese.

"It was quite a shock for everyone involved,” Savel says. “The Diocese of London and our 120 parishes take their financial stewardship role very seriously. Parishioners at Ste. Anne’s deserve to know what happened and Father Couture should be held accountable for his actions.”

Coulture will appear in a Windsor court on May 14.