Former pastor guilty of sexual assault
A former pastor was found guilty Friday of two sex-related charges involving a then-teenaged boy 25 years ago.
Mr. Justice Hugh O’Connell found Clifton Pelley guilty of sexual assault and gross indecency, but not guilty of three other charges involving a different man who alleged Pelley drugged him and sexually assaulted him as a teen.
O’Connell told the court he had no difficult believing the testimony of the victim, who said Pelley had taken him into a church office after a tri p to the U.S. In 1985 and told him he had the authority of the church and the police to inspect his genitals.
Pelley told the then-16-year-old that a girl had been impregnated on the trip and he had to look for a distinctive marking on the genitals of the boys of the church. The boy agreed and Pelley carried out the inspection.
“I did not find this to be scripted evidence. Rather, I found it to be very telling testimony … very truthful,” O’Connell said. “I completely accept that Mr. Pelley used the ruse of the pregnancy” to carry out the abuse.
Charges stemming from allegations made by a second man led to acquittal, O’Connell explained, because the second man’s testimony did not lead him to believe in Pelley’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Pelley, dressed in a dark suit, did not react as the decisions were read.
He remains free on a $50,000 surety and is under house arrest pending his sentencing. He will appear in court March 3 in Oshawa to set a date for sentence.
His victim will also prepare a pre-sentence report, Crown prosecutor Frank Giordano said.
Pelley’s lawyer, Nadir Sachak, said his client was not a flight risk and had surrendered his passport for other, “non-criminal” reasons.
Pelley is subject to irregular compliance checks by police, and no problems have been reported, Sachak said.
He has also been pulled over 32 times by OPP officers checking to ensure he’s complying with his conditions, he said. “The OPP has been very thorough.”
Pelley was accused of three counts of sexual assault and single counts of administering a stupefying drug, administering noxious things, gross indecency, sexual interference, inviting sexual touching and sexual exploitation over a nearly 30-year period.
Two alleged victims took to the witness stand during the trial, which took place from Oct. 20 to 28. A publication ban prohibits publishing anything that could identify them.
A 35-year-old testified to having been sexually assaulted between the ages of 11 and 13 and a 43-year-old testified to have been sexually assaulted when he was 15 and 18.
Earlier in the trial, one count of sexual assault and and an inviting sexual touching charge were dropped morning O’Connell ruled he had no jurisdiction, as the incidents were alleged to have happened in the United States.
Court heard Pelley was seen as a mentor to young boys involved with his church and often took them on trips and hosted them on movie nights.