Arrest made in Toronto church sex assaults

Written by By Kinky Chung, CNN Toronto, Canada

Toronto police have arrested a suspect in the sexual assault of three women and a girl at a church in North York, east of the city.

Rodney Sylvester, a 43-year-old motorbike enthusiast, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with forcible confinement, sexual assault, overcoming resistance to commit sexual assault, and four counts of sexual interference.

According to the Toronto Sun, the alleged offences occurred in 2013 when Sylvester was associated with a ministry group at St. John the Baptist Serbian Orthodox Church.

He is believed to have tried to force a 22-year-old woman to have sex with him and repeatedly went up to a 14-year-old girl and indecently assaulted her.

His profile on MySpace was removed and the website displays messages from other women accusing him of sexual assault, CNN has learned.

In a series of Facebook messages that went viral in the wake of the charges, the teen victim wrote of her experience, asking “what is happening to our world? I don’t even understand anymore.”

“How do I cope and feel safe? I don’t want any more girls (that’s me or the other girls too) being targeted by someone that uses religion as an excuse to seek sex.”

The victim urged the church to end its relationship with the accused man, which included allowing him to attend events there.

“You all keep saying it’s just a church. That makes it all the more disgusting. All you need to do is make a choice and tell him that you don’t approve of his way of thinking. And do the same with his wife.”

A motive for the assaults has not been confirmed. In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the Serbian Orthodox Church said the matter was the responsibility of the police.

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