Man tells N.S. trial of teenage stripping game, sex at pastor's home in 1970s
KENTVILLE, N.S. -- A man sobbed into his hands in a Kentville, N.S., courtroom Tuesday as he testified that well-known Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes encouraged him and other teenage males to strip at a drunken party in the 1970s, and then took him to a bedroom for sex.
"I remember him saying he knew he'd have me, he had been grooming for two years by that point in time," the man, who said he was then about 16, told Hawkes' trial in Kentville provincial court.
Hawkes faces charges of indecent assault and gross indecency and has pleaded not guilty.
The witness said he was part of a group of people who went to Hawkes' trailer in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley sometime in the mid-1970s, where Hawkes suggested they play a drinking game that involved removing their clothes.
The witness, who is the complainant in the case and can't be identified under a publication ban, said Hawkes eventually led him naked to a bedroom.
"I remember barely being able to stand up. I remember almost like watching from above, an out-of-body experience, wondering why this was happening," said the witness, who was a student at the school where Hawkes taught at the time of the alleged incident.
He testified that Hawkes told him he was beautiful and that he had a body like a "Greek God." The witness said Hawkes then performed sexual acts on him.
"I remember him telling me, 'I want to take you to Provincetown (in Massachusetts) because,' and I quote, 'All the other (gay men) there would be jealous,"' he said, often sobbing, pausing to take deep breaths and closing his eyes during testimony.
"I remember his hands on my body. I remember him biting me, kissing, sticking his tongue in my mouth." He said he also remembered the "stench" of Hawkes' body and its weight and his "stubble on my cheek."
Hawkes, a high-profile rights activist who officiated at former NDP leader Jack Layton's state funeral in 2011, was then a local high school teacher and basketball coach.
The witness said he had heard of students hanging out at Hawkes' place, and himself had been there once before to drink alcohol and play the video game Pong.
During the man's testimony, Hawkes sat and listened intently, looking toward the man from the gallery. He clutched a white pen during the proceedings Tuesday, sometimes jotting notes in a black notebook open on his lap.
The witness said he doesn't remember how he got home that night.
"For the next period of time -- days, weeks, months -- I know now what I did was disassociate from the event as a way of protecting myself because I didn't want to remember," he testified.
The witness told the court that he has forgiven Hawkes.
"At that point in time, he was doing the best he could," said the witness, crying. "I will never forget his actions, nor forgive his actions. But I forgive him. And most importantly, I forgive myself. It took time to learn how to do that and to say that."
Defence lawyer Clayton Ruby appeared to question the witness on the reliability of his memories of the party, but the witness denied that his memory was poor.
"I will not forget the sensation of what was done to me," he said, adding that although parts of the party are foggy, the memories of the sexual acts have always remained vivid. "The images are real. They are firmly implanted in my memory."
Hawkes has maintained his innocence. He issued a statement earlier this year saying: "I want to be crystal clear: I am innocent of these allegations ... The purported events simply did not take place. I will fight, with all that I have, these accusations."
According to the "Support Brent" website, Hawkes attended Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., and later moved to the Annapolis Valley from 1973 to 1976.
Hawkes, originally from Bath, N.B., has been the senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for 38 years. Considered one of the spiritual leaders of Toronto's gay community, he is also known as a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage, and in 2007 was appointed to the Order of Canada.