Q: The allegations date back to the mid-1970s. Some leaders fear that even after retirement somebody disgruntled somewhere will bring up a complaint out of nowhere. Why do we even prosecute historic sexual assault?
A: Regardless of whether they’ve held authoritative roles, most observers would recognize that allowing minors to drink in one’s home would be most unusual for a teacher and coach who was responding to a religious calling. While Hawkes is not on trial for facilitating underage drinking, such behaviour is highly relevant to the question of consent which underlies the sexual assault allegations.
Scripture says that when an “unfruitful work of darkness … is exposed to the light it becomes visible” (Ephesians 5: 11,13). Salvation history-telling includes the frequent recitals of long-forgiven sins so that God’s mercy at Calvary can be revealed. The secular equivalent principles are that people who don’t know their history are bound to repeat it and that sunshine is the best antiseptic.
Although it’s not a finding of criminal fact, the complainant’s trajectory after the alleged assaults is consistent with the collective experience of other male survivors; he described destructive behaviour prior to his attempts to become more pro-social and undertake a healing process. For serious crimes like sexual assault, Canada doesn’t limit when criminal charges can be brought.
Responding to lawyer Clayton Ruby’s repetitive, intrusive questions and suggestion that “nothing happened,” the alleged victim replied, “No, sir, I wouldn’t be here if nothing happened. I would not subject myself to this onerous process if nothing happened.”
Q: Wasn’t it “homophobic” to prosecute the spiritual leader of Canada’s LGBT community?
A: Surely Canadians who disagree about the morality of gay sex can agree about the immorality of sexual assault. And because you recognise diversity of thought, you’ll agree with me that Egale and Metropolitan Community Church-Toronto don’t speak for every Canadian who identifies as LGBT, and that some LGBT-identified people have supported this prosecution.
It sounds like you’re suggesting that all gay men are guilty of sexually assaulting minors, or that somehow someone who enjoys celebrity status should have criminal immunity. Either proposition is outlandish. What would be unjust discrimination would be finding probable cause but declining to prosecute someone because of their reputation or their sexual identity. I’ll say it again: the implication that all gay men are guilty of sexually assaulting minors offends me, as does the notion that every LGBT-identified person is on trial here.
As it happens, the complainant in this case is not socially conservative. Someone very dear to him when he grew up was a gay man; he has chosen to declare his workspace a safe space; and he happens to support Rev. Hawkes’ career after the alleged assaults.
Q: How can my church be of assistance to everyone affected by this case?
A: Learn from how the alleged victim described his earliest attempt at disclosure being discounted because of human respect. If an allegation of sexual assault led to a guilty finding and a perpetrator’s reputation was harmed and their aspirations thwarted, so be it. The complainant, other potential victims, and survivors of other assaults all have a right to safety and security.
Defend those experiencing same-sex attraction and/or gender dysphoria, however they identify, against any hint of rash judgment. Be prepared to share the Gospel with abuse survivors as well as accused and convicted criminals and with those wrongly accused. Hearing about this trial may bring up a number of different and conflicting thoughts and feelings within your congregation; open your ears and your heart.
Bless your children. In developmentally appropriate ways, make sure that your kids can come to you at any time with any problem. Raise them to speak the truth in love, and never let human respect get in the way of their primacy in your earthly life. Teach them that sexuality is a sacred gift, not to be feared but to be guarded and cherished. Teach them they can say No, and honour boundaries within your home. Speak well of those who’ve spoken truth to power, including biblical heroes.