2 Apr 2008

Mom sent 'wuss' son to pastor

The London Free Press - Canada

April 2, 2008

The son now alleges pastor Royden Wood physically abused him and others.

by Jane Sims - Sun Media

Tara Ward's sensitive son was "a wuss," she said.

At age 12, he was easily offended if spoken to sharply. He cried often and wasn't very tough.

Ward said she wanted to help her son, John Milonas, by allowing Ambassador Baptist church pastor Royden Wood put him through "character training" at an alternative school run out of the controversial church between 1985 and 1987.

Yesterday, testifying at Wood's trial on assault and sex-related charges, Ward said she agreed with the self- discipline program for a son from whom she's been estranged for more than a decade, wanting him "to control his emotions more appropriately."

"I put him there because I wanted them there," she said -- for the discipline, character training, spiritual training "and I wanted education in a godly manner."

Milonas is one of three boys, now grown men, who have testified they were routinely assaulted by Wood at the school when they were pupils and he was their teacher.

They described being punched, hit repeatedly with pliers, having hairs pulled out of their lips, standing at attention for hours and running endless laps of the city block near the church at King and Adelaide streets.

It was the second day of Wood's defence of 13 charges -- 10 involving the assaults on Milonas and brothers Richard and Norman Howell.

The other three charges involve the fondling of two women's breasts.

Wood is defending himself without a lawyer -- and yesterday called a parade of five supporters, including his son and former church members.

Ward went to Ambassador from the early 1980s until the church folded last fall. She said through Wood's questions she never found the former senior pastor "controlling."

She said she never saw any sexual activity inside the conservative Christian church and never saw Wood pull on women's bras.

"We were social, we were a family," she said.

Ward said Milonas "complained about what he thought was unfair treatment," but was proud of his newfound self-control.

In cross-examination by assistant Crown attorney Peter Kierluk, she said Wood first told her about the school and she wanted her son to be part of it.

Wood was the main teacher in the second year.

"The character thing began as a result of the observations by Roy that the behaviour of my son and at least one or two others was so disruptive it was affecting the education of everybody," she said.

In the self-control program, Ward said, Wood demonstrated at her home how he could hit Milonas "in a game" to see who could punch the hardest.

Kierluk asked Ward about a statement she made to police about an apology Wood made to her for spanking her four-year-old grandson's buttocks until they were bruised.

Ward said some children have "sensitive skin and bruise easily."

She never reported the bruising to the Children's Aid Society "because they dramatize everything."

"It would become child abuse and it was no such thing," she said.

Wood apologized when she picked the boy up from the pastor's house, she said.

Ward said said she didn't know why she and her son haven't communicated in 11 years.

"I'm not estranged from him, he was estranged from me."

More witnesses and closing arguments are expected today.

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