Brent Hawkes, a prominent Toronto pastor, has been charged with committing sex crimes in Nova Scotia, lawyer Clayton Ruby confirmed to CBC News.
Ruby said his client was charged by the RCMP in December with indecent assault and gross indecency in Kings County, N.S. The incidents allegedly occurred in the 1970s.
The 65-year-old, who delivered the eulogy at former New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton's 2011 funeral, has been the senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for nearly 40 years.
Hawkes is well-known in the LGBT community and has been recognized for his work by the City of Toronto, the United Nations Toronto Association, York University and the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.
He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2007 for his work in human rights and social justice in the LGBT community.
'I am innocent,' says Hawkes
In a statement posted to the Metropolitan Community Church website Monday, Hawkes denied the allegations.
"I want to be crystal clear: I am innocent of these allegations. The purported events simply did not take place. While it is impossible for me to understand where these almost 40-year-old accusations come from, I have a faith that will sustain me as well as faith in Canada's justice system."
Hawkes said he will fight the allegations "with all that I have."
The board of the church also released a statement, saying, "Brent has our steadfast support."
Ruby said he could not say much because the allegations are now before the courts. But he said in a statement that he is confident Hawkes will be "vindicated."
Ruby said the alleged incident took place before Hawkes became the pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church, adding that the church is not making the charge. He also added that the church is not funding Hawkes's legal defence.