Crown withdraws COVID charges against Ontario Pastor Aaron Rock

'How Rock's case has played out does not set a precedent with how these charges are generally dealt with,' says Justice Centre litigator Chris Fleury.

 Crown withdraws COVID charges against Ontario Pastor Aaron Rock
Facebook / Harvest Bible Church Windsor
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Ontario's Appeals Court quietly withdrew pandemic-related charges against Windsor Pastor Aaron Rock for allegedly breaching the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA).

Rock's attorney, Justice Centre Litigator Chris Fleury, informed True North that the "positive outcome" for Rock's lawsuit is inconsistent in similar cases. 

"How Rock's case has played out does not set a precedent with how these charges are generally dealt with," he said

Fleury, who represented fellow Ontario Pastor Henry Hildebrandt and his family, said his other client opposed government mandates on COVID.

Hildebrandt and his family participated in a "No More Lockdowns" rally in Brantford, Ontario, where he spoke to roughly 1,000 attendees about their guaranteed Charter rights to worship and assemble. 

Attendees gathered outside to peacefully protest the arbitrary COVID mandates implemented by the Ontario government, with minimal police presence at the rally. These mandates enforced stay-at-home orders and limits on outside gatherings and worship for healthy Ontarians. 

The Hildebrandt family each received an $880 Provincial Offence Notice ticket for attending a gathering of more than five persons.

However, the courts withdrew the case on February 27 after the Crown prosecutor called it a "waste of time."

On Rock, Fleury said, "The Trinity Bible Chapel case, which the Justice Centre also represented, was in the Superior Court in the spring of 2022. We just got a decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal that returned negative."

Under the ROA, the government banned religious gatherings of more than ten people. Rock — the lead pastor at the Harvest Bible Church in Windsor — supposedly contravened this regulation. 

The Crown presented a recording filmed outside the Harvest Bible Church as a supposed admission of Rock's guilt. Fleury noted the video did not incriminate the Windsor pastor. 

"There were no legal merits to the case itself because the camera footage does not even show Mr. Rock," he said.

The prosecuting Crown Attorney withdrew the two charges against Rock for infringing the ten-person capacity limit on February 6. 

Rock faced another charge for speaking at a public gathering where he voiced concerns about Ontario's COVID response, which the Crown withdrew on February 16.

"Speaking as a citizen of Ontario, it's shocking to me to see the degree to which these charges were laid and how many continue into 2023," said Fleury. "Though it's encouraging that we are seeing positive outcomes."

"At a time when government leaders were decreeing that thousands of people could attend a BLM rally in London, Ontario, over and over again, church congregations were getting tickets for gathering to worship," claimed Hildebrandt following the withdrawal of his case.

"That's when it became clear that we were dealing with a political rather than a health issue. COVID mandates are political and not based on science."

Fleury commented that his client Hildebrandt faces ongoing prosecutions in other jurisdictions, including Elgin County, where his Church resides, but they continue challenging them.

"We will continue to fight these charges aggressively," he said.

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