Crown stays sexual assault charges against Fr. Anthony Atter

The front page of a Safeguarding Action Plan established in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon. (Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News

Upon presentation of further evidence, the Crown has stayed charges of sexual assault and sexual interference against Fr. Anthony Atter.

Atter’s defense lawyer, Brian Pfefferle, recently stated, “Our position throughout has been that Fr. Atter was completely innocent of any wrongdoing. He has taken that position throughout. This is a very complex and unfortunate situation.” The new evidence presented was not revealed, given the sensitive nature of the charges and the need to protect the identity of the complainant.

Atter was serving in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon as pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Lake Lenore, St. Ann Parish in Annaheim and St. Gregory Parish in St. Gregor when the charges were laid in December 2020.  As soon as the diocese learned of the charges, Fr. Anthony Atter was removed from ministry, in accordance with diocesan policy.

“I acknowledge the great suffering this situation has caused; however, I note Fr. Atter is prayerfully supportive of the complainant and the family in this case and wishes God’s blessings on this very difficult circumstances,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen in a letter to the diocese about the recent stay of court proceedings against Atter.

“In my conversation with Fr. Anthony, he is very grateful for the support he has received from parishioners and community members of the diocese,” Hagemoen added.

With the stay of court proceedings, the diocese will now undertake an internal review, as outlined in the diocesan Safeguarding Action Plan, the bishop said.

Update letter from Bishop Mark Hagemoen – Link to PDF

Policies and commitments regarding safeguarding – including sexual abuse – can be found on the diocesan website at

Safeguarding Action Plan

As part of an ongoing commitment to safeguarding children, youth and the vulnerable in its churches, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon has established a Safer Church, Stronger Communities Safeguarding ActionPlan featuring 20 commitments aimed at preventing and responding to abuse by clergy or others in the church.

Download the Safer Churches, Stronger Communities safeguarding action plan: PDF

Reporting abuse: Contact information

The four-page Safer Churches, Stronger Communities action plan, reflects the recent work of a diocesan Safeguarding Committee (consisting of eight lay Catholics and one diocesan priest), chaired by Brenda FitzGerald.

The Safeguarding Committee was established by Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen to review and update the diocese’s long-standing policies related to safeguarding and abuse.

As part of its work, the diocesan Safeguarding Committee has reviewed and updated diocesan policies for ensuring safe church environments, focused on increasing awareness about the impact of sexual abuse on survivors, and clearly outlined steps for handling allegations of serious misconduct — including sexual abuse – by clergy or others working in the church.