A Canadian pastor, 34-year-old Samuel Emerson, and his wife, Madelaine Emerson, 37, are facing more than two dozen charges Wednesday after being accused of allegedly sexually assaulting people from 2015 until 2017.
Samuel was a pastor in Surrey, British Columbia, at the non-denominational Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church.
The pastor was charged with 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 under the age of 16.
His wife, Madelaine is facing one charge 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.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Scotty Schumann said that the sexual assault allegations were against someone under the age of 16, in addition to “several other young adults.”
“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.
There may be other victims that may be nervous to come forward, Schumann said.
Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church has seen a dip in membership since news of the allegations broke, Samuel’s father, Randy Emerson, told CBC News.
Randy, a senior pastor, said those involved in the church have dropped to 60 people, from around 250 people last May – when the Emersons were arrested.
“We’re just very sad, and we’re praying about the whole thing,” Randy said. “A sacred trust has been broken in many people’s minds.”