Surrey pastor and wife charged with series of sex assaults
Investigators say there could be more victims and are asking them to come forward
A Christian pastor in Surrey, B.C., and his wife have been charged with numerous counts relating to a series of sexual assaults, and police are asking other alleged victims to come forward.
Samuel Emerson, 34, of the Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church has been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person younger than 16, according to an RCMP news release.
Madelaine Emerson, 37, faces one charge each of sexual assault, being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and threats to cause death or bodily harm.
The accusations go back to 2015 and were first reported in May this year, according to police. The Emersons were arrested May 18 and released on strict conditions.
RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann said the charges are disturbing, and relate to alleged offences against one person under age 16 and "several other young adults."
"A lot of us, especially parents for example, entrust that these people are going to have the best interests of our children at heart and when that trust is broken, you certainly feel terrible as a community but terrible as a parent for not being able to protect your children," he told CBC News.
Investigators believe there may be other possible victims who have not come forward, and are asking them to trust the Surrey RCMP with their stories.
"We don't actually know there are other victims, but a lot of times with offences involving sexual assaults, victims don't want to come forward for a variety of reasons," Schumann said.
"If they know that other people are coming forward, they may find some strength in that and call the police."
The Emersons weren't previously known to police, RCMP say.
'We're praying about the whole thing'
Samuel Emerson's father, Randy Emerson, is senior pastor at the Cloverdale church, and said the allegations have split the congregation, reducing it from about 250 people in May to 60 today.
"We're just very sad, and we're praying about the whole thing," he told CBC News. "A sacred trust has been broken in many people's minds."
He said his son has spent his life in the church, where he was a pastor for seven or eight years. The family became aware of the allegations at the time of the arrests and the younger Emersons haven't been around the church since then.
"The church is going ahead with what we've always done. We help people. We help the poor. We help every social strata we can," Randy Emerson said.
With files from Belle Puri and Brenna Rose