British Columbia

Vancouver preacher accused of anti-gay hate speech sentenced to 12-month conditional discharge

The street preacher pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm for a physical altercation in Vancouver's West End last year, which left a man with a badly broken leg.

Longtime preacher Dorre Love says he is remorseful

Justin Morissette and his roommate J.D. Burke, following surgery on his broken leg. (Submitted by Justin Morissette)

A Vancouver street preacher has been sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge on Friday, after he pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm.

Dorre Love was charged in October last year following a physical altercation that took place on Aug. 22, 2020 in Vancouver's West End.

Love and another man were preaching with a loudspeaker outside the Starbucks on Davie Street and Thurlow Street, when Justin Morissette, who lived nearby, approached the preacher and told him he was causing a nuisance.

The incident, captured on video, showed Morissette yelling at the preacher. 

In the video, which was submitted as evidence by Crown counsel and played during Friday's sentencing hearing, Morissette is seen telling Love to "shut the f--k up" and to "turn it the f--k down."

He then grabbed Love's microphone, which led to the physical altercation that ended with Morissette suffering a badly broken leg.

Morissette said he spent 27 days at St. Paul's Hospital, where he underwent surgery to reset the bones in his leg. He has since undergone physiotherapy and rehabilitation. 

Love has been ordered to refrain from posting or broadcasting anything on social media in relation to the Aug. 22 incident. He has also been told to stay away from certain areas of Vancouver's West End, including Beach Avenue, Denman Street, English Bay and Sunset Beach.

Love will also have to complete community service work by Sept. 8, 2022, and he is not allowed to possess an electronic loudspeaker during his 12-month conditional discharge.

Justin Morissette at St. Paul's Hospital. (Submitted by Justin Morissette)

On Friday, a Vancouver Provincial Court judge said Morissette was hostile and had a part in initiating the physical altercation, after he pushed Love in the chest.

According to Morissette, the preacher and his ministry, Ministry of the Word, were spreading anti-gay hate speech. Morissette sued the city and police earlier this year for letting Love continue his behaviour.

However, the judge ruled on Friday that the video did not show any bias, prejudice or hateful comments toward any specific minority group. 

Visibly emotional, Morissette addressed the court, saying the incident has destroyed his leg and his career as a Sportsnet 650 broadcaster. Morissette now has a metal plate in his knee, and has difficulties walking.

Justin Morissette's leg was broken in two places and his knee was dislocated after the Aug. 22 confrontation near Davie Street and Thurlow Street in Vancouver's West End. (Submitted by Justin Morissette)

He added that he suffers trauma from the incident, which the judge acknowledged. 

Crown counsel recommended Love be issued an 18-month suspended sentence, but the judge said there was no evidence that Love caused Morissette to break his leg.

The judge added that because the 43-year-old preacher did not have a criminal record, pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm, and was remorseful in court, he would be sentenced to a 12-month conditional discharge instead.

Love, who moved to Ontario in July and returned to Vancouver for the hearing, stood in front of the judge and acknowledged he should have handled the confrontation differently, and said he has learned his lesson.

The judge determined Aug. 22, 2020 was an "unfortunate" turn of events, but that Love had the right to be on the street, to preach his sermon. The judge added that Morissette did not have the right to take the microphone away from Love forcibly.