An evangelical pastor in Canada faces two dozen charges relating to sexual offenses and sexual assault, and his wife faces two sex-related charges of her own.
Police in Surrey, British Columbia have charged Samuel Emerson, 34, with 13 counts of sexual assault, as well as 11 counts of holding an authority position and touching a person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexually touching a person under 16, according to the Canadian Press.
His wife, Madelaine Emerson, 37, faces charges as well: one count of sexual assault and threats to cause harm or death, and one count of holding an authority position and touching a person for a sexual purpose.
“We are under attack like never before,” Samuel’s father, Randy, a pastor at the church, wrote on Facebook in May — the month the couple was arrested. “We need the accuser of the saints to be silenced and Truth prevail.”
Never miss a local story.
The pair have five children, and were involved in Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church’s youth ministry program, according to the Vancouver Sun.
Randy Emerson said that his son no longer works there. He also noted that membership numbers have dropped substantially since the allegations, according to CTV.
The father, Randy, took to Facebook to defend the church in May.
He later followed up to thank congregants, in a Facebook post that received more than 100 likes.
Canadian police said the assaults allegedly took place from 2015 to 2017.
The couple was arrested in May, but were released under strict supervision, police in Surrey said.
Charges weren’t formally filed until this month — and authorities said that “there is potential that other victims exist that have not come forward to police.”
“Calling the police to report a sexual assault is a very difficult thing to do especially when the suspect is someone you knew and trusted, and can leave lifelong emotional scars,” Cpl. Scotty Schumann said.