Many Roman Catholic parishioners in the Upper Ottawa Valley prayed for one of their own Sunday morning - a well-known priest accused of sexually assaulting three victims.

Monsignor Robert Borne, 60, is also accused of gross indecency, indecent assault, and breach of trust. He will appear in court on July 7.

"I still love him, and he could be innocent," said one man outside Eganville's St. James Catholic Church, where Borne served as parish priest. "I hope to hell he is."

Elizabeth Hemming, another parishioner, called the allegations "absolutely ridiculous," saying Borne had helped the church flourish.

Most other churchgoers did not want to speak to CTV Ottawa about the controversy.

Bishop Michael Mulhall, who heads the Diocese of Pembroke, issued a statement saying: "our commitment is to work in an open and cooperative way with the civil authorities as they endeavor to unfold the truth."

Borne, a Pembroke native, was charged in late April but only turned himself in to Ontario Provincial Police on Friday.

The incidents are alleged to have occurred between 1977 and 1995.

Police say their investigation began with a single complaint in January 2008 that a boy visiting Borne had allegedly been sexually assaulted. Others have since come forward.

"You don't expect this in a small village like (Eganville)," said one area resident. "He was a very nice man and much respected here."

This is the second time in recent years that the Catholic church has faced abuse allegations in the Ottawa Valley. Monsignor Bernard Prince is currently in jail for sexually abusing 13 boys.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee and files from The Canadian Press