A former pastor charged with sexually assaulting two young victims 30 years ago was found not guilty of all charges Wednesday.
“[The Honourable Justice Henderson] found the complainant credible, but the passage of time raised concerns with the reliability of her memory,” Crown prosecutor Shane Parker told Global News.
“The Crown was not able to persuade the court at the criminal standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
Thomas Larry Jones was charged with indecent assault of a female, three counts of gross indecency, four counts of sexual assault, two counts of sexual interference and two counts of sexual exploitation.
The charges against Jones came about after another spiritual leader from the same church, Russell Rodman, was charged for sexually assaulting boys at the church. Rodman pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 38 months in prison for sexual assault, sexual interference, gross indecency and possession of child pornography.
Jones was a pastor at Western Baptist Church in Calgary until the 1990s, when he said he left due to pressure from the women accusing him of sexual assault. He was charged in April 2014.
Jones also worked as a teacher for the school that ran out of the church’s basement.
“I felt to protect the church, I had to leave,” Jones said in court Tuesday.
The Crown prosecutor and defence both had issues with determining which witness details and testimony were truly accurate and which weren’t, as the witnesses were recalling events from decades ago.
One such recollection was when Jones saw one of the girls cheating on a test in a photocopy room, roughly 28 years ago. The girl had alleged a sexual assault had happened then, but neither Jones nor the girl could confirm exactly what had happened.
When pressed by the Crown on why the pastor didn’t go to the parents of the girl once he caught her cheating, he said: “I tried to be an understanding teacher.”
Jones also claims the girls were using the allegations as a way to tarnish the church’s name and cause undue stress. One of the ways the girls did that, according to the former pastor, was by using social media to call the pastor a pedophile publicly before the charges were laid.