After some adjustments in their strategy, the Ontario prosecution decided not to press charges against Pastor Aaron Rock for COVID.
Aaron Rock, a Christian pastor at Harvest Bible Church in Ontario, was exonerated of all COVID charges brought against him in connection to a church service held in violation of COVID rules and an anti-lockdown rally he attended. Because of a shift in strategy about how to prosecute cases of this nature, the charges were withdrawn by Crown prosecutors.
Christopher Fleury, who represents Rock, expressed his satisfaction with the fact that Crown Attorneys are beginning to take a more reasonable and practical approach to the prosecution of offenses of this nature. This approach includes some acknowledgment of the fact that there is little to no public interest in continuing to prosecute violations of the Re-opening Ontario Act (ROA).
According to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the organization that provided funding for Rock’s legal defense, the ROA accusations that he faced occurred on two different occasions.
The charges against him were dropped by the Crown Attorney in Windsor on February 6th, and on February 16th, 2023, the Crown requested that another charge that was lodged against him in Stratford, Ontario, be withdrawn from consideration.
In an effort to slow the progression of COVID, the provincial government of Ontario enacted stringent measures in December 2020.
These efforts included restrictions on the number of people who might congregate in places of worship. Because Rock’s church was located in Windsor, Ontario, he was subject to the requirements under the ROA, which tried to limit services to no more than 10 persons. Crown prosecutors argued that Rock broke these laws, and he was found guilty of doing so.
The evidence that was produced by the Crown was reportedly video footage that was shot outside of Pastor Rock’s church. The clip showed a number of people exiting the premises, but no one was recognized or charged with any type of wrongdoing, as stated by the JCCF.
In addition, Pastor Rock was not included in the recording in any capacity. The Crown abandoned both charges after reaching the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the claimed violation of the ROA and agreeing with the defense counsel on this point.
In conclusion, the decision to not pursue criminal charges against Pastor Rock demonstrates a shift in the way that the prosecution takes to situations of this nature. It underlines the need of having legal representation as well as the requirement for a procedure that is fair and reasonable when resolving allegations of COVID rule infractions.