Lawyers to make closing arguments in Brent Hawkes' gross indecency trial
Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:10PM EST
KENTVILLE, N.S. -- Brent Hawkes' lawyers conceded Tuesday that teenagers drank alcohol at the Toronto pastor's Nova Scotia trailer during the mid 1970s, much to the prosecutor's surprise.
Crown lawyer Bob Morrison had intended to call rebuttal witnesses to testify that other students, and not only the three witnesses who testified last week at Hawkes' gross indecency trial, drank alcohol at his Greenwood, N.S., home.
But the defence said they didn't disagree with the Crown on that point, so there was no need to hear from the witnesses.
"It was a bit of a surprise," Morrison said outside the Kentville, N.S., courtroom on Tuesday, the fifth day of the trial. "That's not what I had recollected (Hawkes') evidence was... but the defence did concede that yes, in fact, he was aware that was taking place."
Morrison and defence lawyer Clayton Ruby will make closing arguments Wednesday in a case that has challenged the memory of witnesses as they recounted events that happened more than 40 years ago.
Hawkes, a high-profile rights activist, has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault and gross indecency. The charges stem from events in the mid-1970s when he was a teacher in his mid-20s in the Annapolis Valley.
The judge-alone trial has heard emotional testimony from a middle-aged man who said Hawkes led him down a hallway naked during a drunken get-together at his trailer and forced oral sex on him in a bedroom when he was about 16 years old.
But taking the stand in his own defence, Hawkes categorically denied the allegations.
"It's not true. It did not happen," Hawkes said last Thursday in a hushed voice, shaking his head.
The accuracy of the complainant's memories and the memories of two other witnesses have been questioned by Ruby throughout the trial.
All three men have said they recall some things about the day in question, but other parts are foggy. Some details about a get-together at Hawkes' trailer have differed among the three men.
Ruby has suggested the complainant has reconstructed some memories surrounding the alleged sex offences. He noted a judge in a separate civil case involving the complainant found he had reconstructed his actions during testimony in that case, rather than recalled them from direct memory.
On Monday, Ruby called a psychologist who testified that it is not uncommon for people with gaps in their memories to unconsciously insert memories and adopt them as real.
Timothy Moore, chair of the psychology department at York University's Glendon College, spoke about "imagination inflation," a phenomenon in which someone imagines an event in their mind and over time believes it to be true.
But under cross-examination, Morrison noted that Moore said people tend to remember events that are unique, significant or personal, and that incoherent or incomplete memories are not necessarily false.
Hawkes has sat in the front row of the gallery throughout the entire trial, intently watching testimony and often jotting down notes in a black notebook open on his lap.
Originally from Bath, N.B., Hawkes has been 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.