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A Canadian pastor and his wife face more than two dozen charges regarding sexual offenses.
Colverdale Christian Fellowship pastor Samuel Emerson faces 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. His wife, Madeline, faces charges of 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, CBC reports.
"We're just very sad, and we're praying about the whole thing," Cloverdale senior pastor Randy Emerson says. Emerson is Samuel's father. "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.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Scotty Schumann says the sexual assault allegations were against someone under the age of 16, in addition to "several other young adults," Fox News reports.
"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," Schumann said.
The Surrey Now-Leader reports:
The alleged assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017.
In a media release issued Tuesday afternoon, Surrey RCMP revealed that they received several allegations of sexual assault on May 17, 2017.
On May 18, the Emersons were arrested. Neither were known to police beforehand, and were later released under "strict conditions."
Surrey RCMP said that at the time of the arrest in May, "there was not investigational or public safety need to report out on this matter," which is why the information is being released four months later in October.
The strict conditions imposed onto the Emersons "were sufficient to alleviate any safety concerns," said RCMP.
Samuel and Madelaine are not in police custody at this time but continue to be under the imposed conditions. The couple has five children of their own.
Jessilyn Justice @jessilynjustice is the director of online news for Charisma.