Former Cloverdale youth pastor Samuel Emerson’s appeal of his sexual assault conviction has been dismissed by the B.C. Court of Appeal.
Emerson was convicted of sexual assault in 2019 and sentenced in Oct. 2020 to two years in jail.
Court documents reveal Emerson was appealing his conviction of one count of sexual assault. Emerson was a youth pastor and the victim was a member of the church.
In his reasons for judgment, Court of Appeal for B.C. Justice Fitch stated that at the original trial in 2019, “the judge found (Emerson) induced the (victim) to engage in sexual activity with him by abusing a position of trust, power, or authority … all the incidents amounted to sexual assault.”
That judge also found the victim “did not consent to one act of sexual intercourse,” Justice Fitch stated.
Emerson appealed his conviction on two points: first he argued the previous ruling that he abused “a position of trust, power, or authority” in order to induce the victim’s consent was unreasonable; and second, Emerson argued the judge at the original trial “erred in finding the Crown had established the (victim’s) lack of consent to sexual intercourse” because the Crown confused the legal requirements that were needed in order to lay charges against Emerson in the first place.
B.C. Court of Appeal Justices Fitch, Goepel, and Voith dismissed Emerson’s appeal Jan. 11.
“The finding that (Emerson) abused a position of trust, power, or authority was reasonable given the nature of the relationship between (Emerson) and the (victim),” Justice Fitch stated.
“It is a finding to which deference is owed on appeal. There is no risk in this case that the judge convicted (Emerson) without finding the (victim) did not consent in her own mind to the act of sexual intercourse. There was evidence to support a reasonable conclusion she did not consent to this act.”
The ruling dismissed Emerson’s second ground for appeal too.
“Although the point is academic given my analysis of the first ground of appeal,” Justice Fitch wrote, “I see no basis upon which we could properly interfere with the verdict on the second ground either.”
At his trial in 2019, Emerson was found guilty on one charge of sexual assault. He was tried on five counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual interference of a person under 16. His wife Madelaine was charged in 2017, but was found not guilty.
The assaults were alleged to have happened between 2013 and 2017, at the Emerson family home and at the Cowichan River Bible Camp.
A publication ban protects all information that could reveal the identity of alleged victims or witnesses.
—With a file from Aaron Hinks