Complainant says 'man of God' guided her to have sex

Sexual Assaults Trial: Royden Wood had control of his church members, the woman testified

The London Free Press/October 19, 2011

While a church pastor, Royden Wood liked to compare himself to David, the Old Testament king who had 1,000 wives.

From the pulpit in the now-defunct Ambassador Baptist Church, he would preach about the king and would tell his flock that women's breasts weren't sexual and that God wouldn't be upset about adultery.

Complainants at his London sexual assault trial say Wood was practising what he preached.

On Tuesday, the once-revered pastor, now 62, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, sat in a London court on charges he sexually assaulted five women members of his church before it closed in the fall of 2007.

Assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings said in his opening statement the primary issue to be decided by the jury is "whether consent was freely given by each or any complainant."

The first witness, a 62-year old woman whose identity is protected by court order, said it wasn't.

She had gone to the church for help. She left for 10 years and returned with a husband and a commitment to the organization.

She reconnected with Wood and his wife Linda and attended three church services a week and the Wood home on Friday nights.

Around the same time, she was experiencing bad headaches and Wood thought manipulation and massage of her neck would help.

"I really looked up to him," she said. "I thought he was a really good man of God, so everything he said I believed. So I believed he could help me."

He would massage her in front of others, then suggested if she would lie down, it would help. He would take her to his bedroom and leave the door open.

After several sessions, Wood told her he had read breasts are "full of toxins and poisons he could massage out." She would take off her bra and Wood would reach under her shirt.

Wood suggested she needed a full body massage and instructed her to take off her clothing and put a sheet over top. He would find what he called "pressure points" inside her leg near her vaginal area and press on them.

During one of these sessions, the woman said, she was lying on her stomach when Wood undid his pants and had sex with her.

She said she thought "stupidly" that "this man is a man of God , this means I was going to be his wife." The next day, in a business-like way, Wood told her "sometimes things are true one day but not the next."

She recalled one other incident of sexual intercourse. The day after Wood told her he might have given her a virus that caused cervical cancer because another female church member "had taken advantage of him."

While vacationing near Peterborough, with three of them in a boat, Wood's wife stripped to her undergarments, while the woman and Wood were naked. The woman said she briefly performed oral sex on Wood.

There were 15 to 20 other incidents of oral sex.

Wood had such control on her life, she couldn't tell him to stop. She saw first-hand how people were ostracized once they left the church, that he said was "Bible believing and soul winning." She never left the church until it closed because she was too scared to leave.

The woman admitted she wrote a letter of support for Wood for another court proceeding in 2008. "I felt I had to do it," she said.

The trial continues Wednesday.

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