Orangeville -- A Toronto Pastor was found not guilty of sexually assaulting one of his congregation members who claimed she was ordered to remove her clothing because she was invaded with evil spirits, a judge ruled yesterday.
While Justice Katherine van Rensburg was clearly "troubled" by the evidence at trial and admitted it was "possible," the assault happened, she was not convinced "beyond reasonable doubt," and acquitted Pastor Jae-Kap Song.
Song, 57, an Orangeville grocer and spiritual leader of the Jesus First Church, near Steeles and Islington Aves., was on trial for sexually assaulting the woman at her Orangeville apartment on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2010.
The woman, 30, who can not be identified, wept as she testified Song told her to come into the bedroom so he could examine her naked body to ensure her skin was not turning green from evil spirits, then digitally penetrated her.
Oddly, the woman went to police one month later – on the same day her own husband and eight other members of the Korean congregation were charged with 485 offences in Toronto – including allegations of gang rape and administering injected date rape drugs. During a five-week preliminary hearing on those charges, defence lawyers argued that it was Song who made up the false rape stories and that he had a cult-like power over young women. All 485 charges were dropped last October, but Song went on trial for the unrelated sex assault charge.
The judge said the complainant's evidence at trial was "clear and compelling," while she found Pastor Song's testimony "troubling and unconvincing," noting he did not answer questions with straightforward answers.
The judge said she was disturbed by a video surveillance tape at the woman's apartment that shows another female member of the congregation roaming around naked in an apparent drugged state with a red mark on her face as if she had been struck.
"We will never know why she was running around naked … or whether drugs were being administered to her," said the judge. "The expression that where there is smoke there is fire has no place in law in a criminal court … although in this case it could be said there is plenty of smoke."
In the end the judge ruled that the complainant is a university educated woman and it did not make sense that she willfully followed Song to the bedroom. She also noted the woman initially reported she was digitally penetrated for 20 minutes but later testified the incident lasted only about two minutes. The judge also noted that the woman may have had motive to concoct the story to deflect that charges that her husband originally faced.
Outside of court, Pastor Song, whose congregation has shrunk to 20 from about 60 members, smiled at his lawyer.
"My only hope is that the church recovers," he said, adding that the allegations were "all lies."