A high-ranking Canadian archbishop has been arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault, Winnipeg police said on Thursday morning.

Archbishop Kenneth William Storheim, also known as Seraphim Storheim, was a rector at the Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Sobor on Manitoba Avenue from December 1984 to June 1987.

"These are very serious charges that this individual is facing," said Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Natalie Aitken. "I think it was very courageous for (the victims) to come forward."

The 64-year-old archbishop is charged with the sexual assault of two boys during the summer of 1985.

The allegations first came to light in October and Storheim stepped down. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Nov. 16 and eight days later he flew from Edmonton to Winnipeg and turned himself in.

Storheim's lawyer said the archbishop reacted with shock and dismay when he learned of the charges.

"He is extremely adamant that this did not happen, that he did nothing improper or illegal," said lawyer Jeffery Gindin.

The archbishop was questioned by Winnipeg police for about seven hours then released by the courts with a $500 cash deposit.

Officials with the archdiocese of Canada in Orthodox Church in America have said they knew nothing of the allegations, but one victims' rights group in the U.S. cited concerns about the archbishop a year and a half ago.

Officials with the Orthodox Church in America are also conducting their own investigation.

-with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley