Toronto pastor charged in historical sex assault speaks out

A well-known Toronto pastor charged in a historical sex assault has spoken publicly for the first time since the allegations.

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Rev. Brent Hawkes denied all wrongdoing at a service on Sunday morning at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.

“I want to be clear. I am innocent of these allegations,” Hawkes told the congregation. “For 38 years, I have fought with all that I have for equality for our community.”

According to the RCMP, the 65-year-old pastor is facing indecent assault and gross indecency charges related to an alleged sexual assault in Nova Scotia dating back to the 1970s.

Hawkes said he is confident his innocence will be proven in court.

“I have a faith that will sustain me and a faith in the Canadian justice system,” he said. "I wish I could say more but everything I have to say will now be said in court.”

The case went to court for the first time on Feb. 1 in Kentville, N.S., where Hawkes was represented by a Halifax lawyer. That lawyer is assisting Hawkes’ attorney, Clayton Ruby, with the trial.

According to court documents, the allegations against Hawkes date back to between Aug. 1, 1974 and Dec. 31, 1975 at, or near Greenwood, N.S.

Crown prosecutor Bob Morrison described the charges to CTV Atlantic in an interview last Tuesday.

“The subject matter of them is sexual contact with the boy and during the time when Mr. Hawkes would've been an adult and the complainant would have been a minor,” Morrison said.

Morrison said Hawkes was a teacher in Kings County at the time of the alleged assault, but couldn’t say if there was a teacher-student connection.

Hawkes, who officiated former NDP leader Jack Layton's state funeral, has been a pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church for nearly four decades.

He is an Order of Canada member and is best known for his gay rights activism.

At Sunday’s service, a board member at the church said the institution intends to stand behind the pastor, whom it considers a man of "high integrity and an inspirational community leader."


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