Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes denies sex crimes at Nova Scotia trial” & related articles

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Complainant says Hawkes performed sex acts on him during a drunken party in the 1970s

CBC News Posted: Nov 17, 2016 9:26 AM AT       Last Updated: Nov 17, 2016 7:16 PM AT

By Blair Rhodes, 

Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes is charged with the indecent assault of a teenage boy 40 years ago.

Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes is charged with the indecent assault of a teenage boy 40 years ago. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press)

Two very different versions of what happened on a night some 40 years ago emerged Thursday as Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes and his accuser both testified in a Nova Scotia courtroom.

Hawkes, a prominent rights activist, is charged with gross indecency and indecent assault for incidents that allegedly occurred in the 1970s. His trial began Monday in provincial court in Kentville, N.S.

When asked by Crown Prosecutor Bob Morrison about the night in question, Hawkes was emphatic.

“It’s not true,” he told the court. “It did not happen.”

Taught at N.S. high school

Hawkes was a newly minted high school teacher and basketball coach who got his first job at a high school in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.

Hawkes testified he had to conceal the fact he was gay because it would have cost him his job. He said it also would have subjected him to a great deal of intolerance.

Hawkes taught for three years before deciding he needed a change. He quit his job to move to Toronto and join the congregation of a gay-friendly church there.

It was only after he resigned his teaching position that he confided in some people about his sexual orientation. Hawkes said after news got out, the complainant — then about 16 years old — came to visit him at the trailer he was living in.

Teen sought advice

Hawkes said the teen was looking for advice because he thought he might also be gay. Hawkes said he was unkind to the young man and responded harshly.

“What the hell are you doing?” Hawkes said he asked the teen.

Hawkes also told the court that as news of his resignation spread, people would come to his trailer to say goodbye. He said on one occasion, the complainant and two other teens showed up with what Hawkes described as a huge bottle of moonshine cider.

“It was God-awful,” Hawkes said. He tried to take a drink but ended up gagging and spitting it out. He said the only thing notable about that night was the cider.

Differing story

By contrast, the complainant described a scene that night in which he said he and his two friends ended up naked in Hawkes’s trailer and he said Hawkes forced himself on him.

Under cross-examination Thursday, Hawkes’s lawyer Clayton Ruby picked away at the complainant’s version of events and the man’s memory.

The man has undergone therapy since that night and has talked about recovering fragments of memory.

But when Ruby suggested the events he described weren’t real, the man was adamant.

“This was not a dream,” he said, struggling to maintain his composure.

Questions about traffic accident

After another line of questioning, the man challenged Ruby.

“Oh gracious,” he said. “I can only assume you’ve never been sexually assaulted. It’s not the same as just coming up with an answer.”

Ruby also questioned the man about a traffic accident he’d been involved in around the same time as the alleged incident at Hawkes’s trailer. The accident resulted in a civil lawsuit, in which a judge dismissed the man’s testimony as unbelievable.

Ruby suggested the stress and trauma of the accident led the man to come up with the story of the sexual assault.

“I wouldn’t be here if nothing happened,” the man said. “I wouldn’t subject myself to this onerous process if nothing happened.”

Emotional testimony

Crown Prosecutor Bob Morrison said the man’s emotion should not undermine his credibility.

“He was emotional but he soldiered on and was able to recount what happened as best as he could recollect,” Morrison said outside court.

“The emotion, I don’t think at the end of the day that will play into the judge’s decision.”

Ruby plans to call one more witness when the case resumes next week.

The lawyers are scheduled to give their closing arguments on Wednesday. Judge Alan Tufts is expected to reserve his decision for a future date.

The CBC’s Blair Rhodes live blogged from the trial.


 Rev. Brent Hawkes says no sexual activity took place in his home on day in question

The trial of well-known Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes continued on Thursday in a Nova Scotia courtroom.

The Toronto Star

17 November 2016

Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes arrives at provincial court in Kentville, N.S. on Thursday, Nov. 14. Hawkes, a high-profile rights activist who officiated at former NDP leader Jack Layton’s state funeral in 2011, has pleaded not guilty to his charges.
Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes arrives at provincial court in Kentville, N.S. on Thursday, Nov. 14. Hawkes, a high-profile rights activist who officiated at former NDP leader Jack Layton’s state funeral in 2011, has pleaded not guilty to his charges.  (Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS)  

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.

1 Response to Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes denies sex crimes at Nova Scotia trial” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    Here’s the latest from the Kentville courtroom. And, that’s it for the week. The trial resumes on Monday.

    Also posted is this list of blogs from the courtroom by CTV reporter Blair Rhodes. I think this gives us more of a sense of what the line of questioning was and the testimony of both the complainant and Hawkes:

    17 November 2016: Blogged testimony from Brent Hawkes sex trial

    It sounds as though defence will be calling an expert witness. Who on earth will he call?

    Anyway, as difficult as it is get the feel for what happened in that court room today, it looks as thought the complainant held his own. Please keep him in your prayers.

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