N.B. pastor denies sex charges
Closing arguments were heard Wednesday at the trial of a former Plaster Rock, N.B., church minister accused of sexually touching minors.
Frederick Douglas Hanson, 61, is charged with two counts of sexually touching a person under the age of 14 and two counts of sexually touching the body of a person under the age of 14 while in a position of trust.
Hanson allegedly sexually touched the three girls while he was the minister of the Free Will Baptist Church in Plaster Rock, about 100 kilometres southeast of Edmundston.
The Woodstock courthouse heard from the third complainant Wednesday. Her testimony was similar to that of the second girl.
She said her former pastor asked her for a hug and, while hugging, dropped one of his hands to her bottom. She said he also placed his hand on her lower back as she climbed the stairs.
The complainant's mother took the stand Wednesday. She said her daughter was upset when she returned from the church that day and told her what had happened.
"I wanted to go down and beat him right there, right then," the mother said.
Defence lawyer Robert Digdon said the mother had not reported the incident to police. He also brought up the complainant's history of mental-health problems, which predate her accusations against Hanson.
Two of the complainants testified that the incidents occurred during youth group meetings at the church. The charges refer to events that allegedly took place between May 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007.
Laverne Hanson, the former minister's wife, said he wasn't even in the building during those meetings.
She said she had dropped him off at an adult prayer group meeting and later picked him up.
Fred Hanson was last to take the stand. His lawyer read off the accusations one by one and he denied each one in its turn.
The identities of all three complainants are protected by a court order from Justice Terrence Morrison.
Hanson resigned as pastor of the Plaster Rock Free Will Baptist Church in February 2008 after the RCMP investigation was made public. His trial began in January but was then delayed. It resumed Tuesday.
Morrison is expected to give his final instructions to the jury Thursday morning.