(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

Former Kelowna pastor charged with 16 sexual offences

15 of the offences occurred at or near Kelowna

A former Kelowna pastor has been charged with 16 sexual offences including seven counts of sexual assault.

Mitchell Ross Petillion is charged with 16 sexual offences from numerous incidents that allegedly occurred between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2019. Fifteen of the 16 offences occurred at or near Kelowna. One offence occurred at or near Osoyoos.

The offences include seven counts of sexual assault, four counts of luring a child, two counts of sexual exploitation, two counts of sexual interference and one count of invitation to sexual touching, according to the BC Prosecution Service in an email.

Willow Park Church has since posted a statement about the charges, saying Petillion ended his employment in January 2020 shortly after the allegations became known.

“In this case, as soon as we received the first indication of a potential issue, we immediately contacted the police as part of our standard protocol. We have been strictly and rigorously adhering to that process in line with our child and youth protection policies, both for everyone who may feel this impacts them as well as our own integrity as a church body,” wrote the church in a published statement.

Both the BC Prosecution Service and the church will not be commenting further at this time as the matter is before the court. Petillion is scheduled to appear in Kelowna Provincial Court on Dec. 9.

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CrimeKelownasexual assault