KENTVILLE, N.S.—Prominent Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes appeared calm on the witness stand Thursday as he categorically denied that he performed sex acts on a teenage boy at his trailer in Nova Scotia in the mid-1970s.
“It’s not true. It did not happen,” Hawkes said in a hushed voice, shaking his head in the Kentville, N.S., courtroom.
On Tuesday, a man testified that Hawkes led him down a hallway during a drunken get-together at his trailer in Greenwood, N.S., and forced oral sex on him in a bedroom.
Hawkes, then a teacher in his mid-20s in the Annapolis Valley, said Thursday it wasn’t unusual for students and teachers to stop by his trailer, especially around that time, as they wanted to say goodbye before he moved to Toronto to work with a church.
“I think it would be accurate to say I was a pretty popular teacher,” said Hawkes, wearing glasses and a black suit.
He said it wasn’t unusual for students to attend parties with teachers, especially following school events like a musical or a hockey game.
Hawkes said he remembered the complainant and two other students — two Crown witnesses who testified earlier this week — arriving at his trailer with a bottle of “moonshine cider.”
“They offered me a drink and I took a drink, and it was God awful and I half spit it out … and everybody laughed,” said Hawkes, adding that the moonshine incident was the only thing that stood out for him about the night.
“It was just an ordinary evening.”
He denied serving students alcohol on the day in question, and said there was no sexual activity at his trailer.
“I do not recall … walking (the complainant) down the hallway,” he said.
The high-profile activist has pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and gross indecency.
Crown lawyer Bob Morrison questioned the accuracy of Hawkes’ memory, noting he testified that he taught Grade 10 math during his first year of teaching. But a school document showed Hawkes in fact taught Grade 11 math during his first year. Hawkes said the document could be more accurate than his memory.
Hawkes told the court that he submitted his resignation to the school around April or May, but Morrison showed him his resignation letter, which was dated in November. Hawkes said he must have submitted his resignation earlier than he thought.
Earlier Thursday, defence lawyer Clayton Ruby suggested the complainant reconstructed some memories surrounding the alleged sex offences, rather than recalling true memories.
Ruby said that when the complainant was a teenager, a judge ruled in a civil case that he had reconstructed his actions, rather than recalling them from memory.
“So true in this trial, admit the fog and the haze, the few bits you think you remember are really reconstructed,” Ruby asserted.
But the complainant disagreed, saying that some moments from the get-together are foggy but others are vivid — something he has repeated throughout his testimony.
Ruby also noted the complainant had said at one point that he was unable to move during the alleged offences.
The complainant said he’s been asking himself for 40 years why he didn’t do anything to stop what was happening to him.
“There’s another explanation, too, as to why you could do nothing … It’s because nothing happened. Had you thought of that?” said Ruby.
The complainant shook his head, breathed heavily and said, “No, sir.”
“I wouldn’t be here if nothing happened. I would not subject myself to this onerous process if nothing happened.”
The judge-alone trial continues Monday. The defence is expected to call an expert witness.