Brent Hawkes watched intently Tuesday as a man tearfully testified that the Toronto pastor encouraged 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.
The witness, who can’t be identified under a publication ban, said he was part of a group of people who went to Hawkes’ trailer home in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, where Hawkes suggested they play a stripping game.
The witness said Hawkes 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,” he said.
He testified that Hawkes told him he was beautiful and performed sexual acts on him.
“I remember him telling me, ‘I want to take you to Provincetown because,’ and I quote, ‘All the other (gay men) there would be jealous.“’
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 basketball coach.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault and gross indecency, none of which has been proven in court.
As the witness broke down on the stand, Hawkes sat and listened intently, looking towards the man from the gallery. He clutched a white pen during the proceedings, with a black notebook open on his lap.
The witness said he doesn’t remember how he got home that night, or subsequent events at the time.
“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.
He said it was frustrating when he tried to remember as he went on a “journey of recovery,” but could recall mostly only passing moments.
“Bits and pieces every now and then will flash back in — a thought here, a memory here, a picture here, a scent, a sound, a noise. It doesn’t make sense. None of it makes sense,” he said.
The witness told the court that he forgives Hawkes.
“At that point in time, he was doing the best he could,” said the witness, breaking down on the stand, crying into his hands and taking deep breaths.
“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 of the events were poor.
“I will not forget the sensation of what was done to me,” he said. “The images are real. They are firmly implanted in my memory.”
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.Report Typo/Error