Regardless of spending 21 days in jail, Alberta pastor cleared of violating COVID public well being measures

Regardless of spending 21 days in jail, Alberta pastor cleared of violating COVID public well being measures

‘I really feel vindicated,’ Fairview Baptist Church Pastor Tim Stephens stated. ‘It actually speaks volumes of the overreach of presidency actions throughout COVID’

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Fairview Baptist Church Pastor Tim Stephens stated he felt “vindicated” Tuesday after a Calgary choose acquitted him of violating COVID-19 well being restrictions.

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Provincial courtroom Choose Allan Fradsham discovered the Crown had didn’t show Stephens didn’t keep social distancing throughout companies on the church on Feb. 28 and March 7, 2021.

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Outdoors courtroom, Stephens famous that regardless of serving 21 days behind bars, Fradsham’s resolution meant all private Public Well being Act fees in opposition to him have now both been withdrawn or resulted in acquittals.

“All my private issues have been handled so I really feel vindicated,” Stephens advised Postmedia. “It actually speaks volumes of the overreach of presidency actions throughout COVID.”

He additionally advised the choice was a victory of church over state.

“I reward God as a result of these heavy-handed measures solely enhanced the gospel of Jesus Christ. For that, I rejoice.”

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In his written resolution, Fradsham famous a lot of the proof referred to as at Stephens’s trial in September centered on whether or not the pastor took steps to make sure congregants through the two companies keep the two-metre distance required throughout gatherings on the time.

“With respect, the query will not be legally related to the problems earlier than me,” the choose stated.

Fradsham stated the supply Stephens was charged with violating ordered “each individual attending an indoor or out of doors location should keep a minimal of two metres distance from each different individual.”

“I see nothing within the provisions of that specific order of the chief medical officer of well being which imposed any authorized obligation on Pastor Stephens to make sure, compel, or encourage compliance, by these attending the spiritual companies he was conducting,” he stated.

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Throughout his trial, Stephens stated it wasn’t his responsibility to police members of his congregation.

He stated the church posted signage to alert folks attending companies of the measures in place, updating them as they modified.

“We did put up signage on our entrance door,” Stephens testified. “We tried to maintain up to the mark.”

Fradsham stated to be able to discover Stephens responsible, he must decide the pastor failed to keep up a distance of two metres from everybody else within the church.

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“I’m not happy past an affordable doubt, or in any respect, that Pastor Stephens, on both of these two dates, didn’t ‘keep a minimal of two metres distance from each different individual.’

“The proof earlier than me is that whereas congregants throughout the church didn’t … on each dates Pastor Stephens was alone on the entrance of the church.”

Fradsham stated his judgment wasn’t to be taken as a commentary on the measures put in place by the province.

“The duty earlier than me doesn’t embody a willpower of any of the varied philosophical points which is perhaps raised by both the declaration of the pandemic or the measures applied to deal with it.”

Fairview Baptist Church nonetheless faces excellent fees underneath the Public Well being Act.

[email protected]

On Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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