The court case against a Catholic priest in rural Saskatchewan who was accused of sexual assault came to an end just a few hours after the trial jury was selected.
Father Anthony Atter was set to stand trial in Saskatoon after being accused of sexual assault, sexual exploitation and sexual interference.
"Crown counsel Jennifer Claxton-Viczko directed a stay of proceedings late Monday afternoon after she was provided with documents, texts and photographs relevant to the case by the defence," said defence lawyer Brian Pfefferle in a statement.
"Given the sensitive nature of these cases and the identity of the complainant, we are unable to comment further on the type of evidence we provide to the Crown."
Pfefferle said Atter had "always asserted his innocence in this case" and "is relieved to be moving on from this matter."
Atter was the priest responsible for three parishes: St Gregory in Saint Gregor, Sask., St Ann in Annaheim, Sask., and St Anthony in Lake Lenore, Sask.
He was removed from the ministry after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon learned of the charges. Pfefferle noted allegations of sexual abuse are part of the Catholic Church legacy, so diligence is necessary when allegations come up.
He said now that the court process has been halted, Atter is not sure whether he will be brought back into the ministry but plans to co-operate with any internal investigations that may occur.
"He loved the community he worked in and the people in it. He is grateful for the significant support he received from parishioners and community members who stood by him throughout this entire process."