Toronto pastor on trial for historic sex charges in Kings County

Kirk Starratt
Published on November 14, 2016

Dr. Rev. Brent Leroy Hawkes on his way into provincial court in Kentville, where he’s standing trial on charges of indecent assault and committing an act of gross indecency involving oral sex dating from the mid 1970’s.

©Kirk Starratt

KENTVILLE - The trial of a well-known Toronto pastor and Order of Canada recipient on historic sex charges has gotten underway.

Dr. Rev. Brent Leroy Hawkes, 66, is charged with indecent assault and committing an act of gross indecency involving oral sex in Greenwood between Aug. 1, 1974, and Dec. 31, 1975. The alleged victim was a teenage boy at the time.

Hawkes is charged under the Criminal Code of Canada as it was written between 1970 and 1982. Kings RCMP filed charges against Hawkes in December 2015.

Judge Alan Tufts granted a motion for exclusion of witnesses from the courtroom as the trial began Nov. 14. Crown Robert Morrison called the first witness, a Calgary man who attended West Kings District High School in the 1970s.

The witness, a year younger than the alleged victim, was an acquaintance who knew the alleged victim from playing basketball at the school. Hawkes was a teacher and basketball coach at the school in the 1970s.

The man said he was never coached by Hawkes and never had him as a teacher. The only time he had any interaction outside school with Hawkes was the reason why he was testifying in court Nov. 14.

“It’s not so much what I remember, it’s what after 40 years I am unable to forget,” the witness said.

The man told the court that he clearly recalls three things about the night in question, when he attended a party at Hawkes’ trailer in Greenwood. He said a group of people, he doesn’t recall exactly who, decided to see if they could get into a nearby drinking establishment. He recalls having at least one beer.

Later, back at the trailer, the witness said he recalls Hawkes asking to talk to him. They went into a small bathroom in Hawkes’ trailer. He recalls Hawkes saying he had been watching him and that Hawkes was “80 per cent sure” that the man was gay. The witness said Hawkes then started talking about his spirituality.

“It was getting too weird for me,” the man said. “I said, ‘I think it’s time to go’.”

The third thing he can’t forget about that night “haunts me today.”

A group of people were sitting in Hawkes’ living room. The man said he was talking to someone in front of him when he looked to the left and saw the alleged victim with Hawkes. Hawkes was performing oral sex on the alleged victim.

The man said the alleged victim was gesturing with his hands up in the air and someone said something along the lines of, “What in the hell is going on?”

During cross-examination, the witness said he’s been trying to forget everything he can about that night for 40 years. When asked by defence lawyer Clayton Ruby, the man said he has no recollection of Hawkes giving him direction to touch another boy sexually or vice versa.

The man said he also has no recollection of Hawkes ever touching him sexually or of Hawkes asking to touch him sexually or vice versa. The witness said he doesn’t feel that he is a victim.

The man said he thinks Hawkes’ whole purpose of trying to convince him he was gay was “to hit on me” and so that he would perform homosexual acts with Hawkes.

A publication ban protects the identity of the alleged victim. The trial is scheduled to continue Nov. 15, 17, 21, 22, 23 and 25.

Did you know?

-       Hawkes is senior pastor at the Metropolitan Church of Toronto.

-       He officiated for the funeral of federal NDP leader Jack Layton in 2011.

-       Hawkes received the Order of Canada in 2007 for his stand on social justice and human rights with the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) communities.