19 Apr 2008

Pastor guilty. Bizarre abuse trial ruling stuns accused.

The London Free Press - Canada

April 19, 2008

by Jane Sims

Twelve criminal convictions for abusing members of his former flock hit ex-Baptist pastor Royden Wood of London like a shot to the gut.

"Needless to say, we're stunned," Wood, 57, former senior pastor of the now-defunct Ambassador Baptist Church, said on the steps of the London courthouse yesterday, his wife Linda at his side.

"For those who wanted revenge, may they be blessed in their revenge," he added.

Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton ruled yesterday Wood was guilty of 12 of 13 charges. They included nine involving physical assaults on three boys, members of the conservative church's alternative school from 1985 to 1987, and three sex-related charges involving two female congregants.

The decision came after a bizarre trial in which the former church leader defended himself without a lawyer.

Asked outside court if he thought he was guilty, Wood replied "I absolutely do not."

"Once they get a roll on, you know, some people have to hurt people," he said.

The trial sometimes appeared to take on the feeling of an investigation on what was happening inside the church at Adelaide and King streets.

"It is Mr. Wood on trial, not the Ambassador Baptist Church, notwithstanding to some, the two entities may have seemed to be one in the same," Templeton said in her decision.

Templeton said she didn't believe Wood's denial that he pulled the bra up over a teen's breasts twice, or grabbed the breast of another woman and commented on its size.

And she said she didn't believe Wood when he said the physical assaults on the boys were merely horseplay and part of a program to teach self-control and discipline.

She called the program "behaviour modification through violence" that was "both shocking and criminal."

"I fail to understand how any method of treating a child akin to a punching bag can, in any way, be interpreted as reasonable in the process of enhancing the child's self control and self esteem," she said.

Now men, the boys -- Richard Howell, 34, Norman Howell, 36, and John Milonas, 35, -- were 12 to 14 when the "self-control program" started.

They described running around the block numerous times, and standing at attention for hours at the school.

Most alarming were the descriptions of having hair pulled out of their upper lips with pliers, the use of knuckles, then pliers, to endlessly tap on their shoulder blades, hits to the solar plexus, arm locks and the "basement treatment" -- punches to the stomach.

Templeton said she believed them and rejected Wood's assertion it was "a program of discipleship not discipline," similar to military or football training.

"This was not a game, this was not a sport," she said.

Wood was acquitted of a charge of assault on Richard Howell with a belt.

Templeton said Wood was teaching the boys a lesson "about his authority, power and control" rather than "the benefits of self-control."

When reviewing the sexual charges, Templeton said there was unusual behaviour at the church among young women who undid each other's bras and grabbed each other in play with what was called the "Ambassador handshake."

Templeton noted the testimony of one woman who said Wood "always made light of breasts" and wanted girls to know their breasts "were not taboo."

Wood flatly denied touching the women.

"I do not believe Mr. Wood," Templeton said.

Richard Howell, speaking for all three men, said they were "extremely happy" and "greatly thankful" for Templeton's decision.

"Having a family of five myself, what he's done is absolutely wrong. I would never in no way harm my kids in the way he harmed myself."

Lead London police investigator Cons. Glenn Hadley said the trial was stressful for the witnesses.

"At the end of the day, they were very satisfied with the outcome and there is going to be a lot of weight off their shoulders now," he said.

Wood said he never thought he was breaking the law, and that money and lawsuits motivated the charges.

"It's behaviour that I don't understand. I guess maybe lawsuit money means that much to people," he said.

And plucking hairs out of a lip, he said, is no big deal. Women do it "all the time."

"I guess every adult now can't horse around with anybody under 14 unless they have a written statement or something. I don't know what else to say," he said.

Wood said he had no regrets representing himself because a defence lawyer would have cost him $100,000 to $150,000 and wiped him out financially.

But members of the church said Wood re-mortgaged a house the church owned for $100,000 and the church was paying the mortgage until it closed last fall.

Wood has no plans to appeal. "I'm just going to take my lumps," he said. "If they send me to jail, great I'll rest."

Wood said he's "struggling very badly with depression" and won't be able to work unless a new medication is found. "So none of this hurts me much anyway," he said.

Wood is to be sentenced June 13.

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Mom sent 'wuss' son to pastor

Man describes alleged abuse by Baptist teacher at defunct London school

Baptist teacher accused of bizarre abuse at defunct London, Ont., school


  1. Ex-pastor gets 11 months in jail

    By JANE SIMS The London Free Press
    September 3, 2008

    Disgraced Baptist pastor Royden Wood said on the way into court yesterday "there was a good chance" he would leave as a jail inmate. "Innocent people go to jail and I'm going to go to jail happily," he said.

    Wood, 58, the former senior pastor of the now-defunct Ambassador Baptist Church, was sent to jail for 11 months. He was convicted of assaulting boys who were students at the church's alternative school and sexually assaulting two female church members by grabbing their breasts.

    The three boys had been subjected to Wood's violent behaviour modification program he designed to teach them self-control during the mid-1980s. His methods included pulling hairs out of their upper lips with pliers, punching them in the stomach and making them stand at attention for hours at a time.

    Wood said the case was "a setup" motivated by exaggerating, lying victims intent on suing him.
    But Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton took a different view, calling Wood's behaviour "a course of physical, mental and emotional abuse."
    Templeton, who oversaw the bizarre trial earlier this year when Wood acted as his own defence lawyer, called his self-control program "both shocking and criminal."

    Wood took the abuse even further when he demonstrated his violent techniques to the boy's classmates and the rest of the church, she said.
    Wood has been diagnosed as bipolar, marked by manic episodes and "expansive and grandiose presentation."

    Templeton called the sexual assaults "reprehensible, designed to humiliate, shock and unsettle." She noted Wood's age, lack of criminal record and family and friend support as factors in her decision.

    His one-year sentence was reduced by a month for the 13 days he spent in pre-trial custody. Wood's victims were "scarred emotionally by the conduct of Mr. Wood and have yet to heal completely," Templeton said. She said she wanted to denounce abuse of authority by any spiritual leader and specifically Wood, whom she said needed to be isolated from the community.

    Wood's name will be added to the sex offender registry. He will be on probation for three years after his release from custody. He must also resist any leadership or authority positions, stay away from the victims and accept treatment.

    "There is no doubt in my mind, Mr. Wood, once you receive that treatment and once you recognize what is happening, you'll be on the road to complete recovery," Templeton said. Wood did not turn back to look at his wife, son and supporters as he was led away. He faces six more sexual assault charges that are before the courts.

    Outside the courthouse, the school victims -- Richard Howell, Norman Howell and John Milonas -- savoured the moment four years after breaking their silence. "The judge heard us and she heard our cries and she found justice," Milonas said.

    So far, no lawsuit has been filed. "I wanted to do the right thing and make sure it didn't happen to anyone else," said Norman Howell. Richard Howell said it was a bigger victory to see the church at King and Adelaide streets close last fall. "I think the church should close down and stay closed."


  2. SEXUAL ASSAULTS TRIAL: Royden Wood had control of his church members, the woman testified

    Complainant says ‘man of God’ guided her to have sex

    October 19, 2011

    While a church pastor, Royden Wood liked to compare himself to David, the Old Testament king who had 1,000 wives. From the pulpit in the now-defunct Ambassador Baptist Church, he would preach about the king and would tell his flock that women's breasts weren't sexual and that God wouldn't be upset about adultery.

    Complainants at his London sexual assault trial say Wood was practising what he preached. On Tuesday, the once-revered pastor, now 62, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, sat in a London court on charges he sexually assaulted five women members of his church before it closed in the fall of 2007.

    Assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings said in his opening statement the primary issue to be decided by the jury is "whether consent was freely given by each or any complainant." The first witness, a 62-year old woman whose identity is protected by court order, said it wasn't.

    She had gone to the church for help. She left for 10 years and returned with a husband and a commitment to the organization. She reconnected with Wood and his wife Linda and attended three church services a week and the Wood home on Friday nights.

    Around the same time, she was experiencing bad headaches and Wood thought manipulation and massage of her neck would help. "I really looked up to him," she said. "I thought he was a really good man of God, so everything he said I believed. So I believed he could help me."

    He would massage her in front of others, then suggested if she would lie down, it would help. He would take her to his bedroom and leave the door open. After several sessions, Wood told her he had read breasts are "full of toxins and poisons he could massage out." She would take off her bra and Wood would reach under her shirt.

    Wood suggested she needed a full body massage and instructed her to take off her clothing and put a sheet over top. He would find what he called "pressure points" inside her leg near her vaginal area and press on them. During one of these sessions, the woman said, she was lying on her stomach when Wood undid his pants and had sex with her.

    She said she thought "stupidly" that "this man is a man of God , this means I was going to be his wife." The next day, in a business-like way, Wood told her "sometimes things are true one day but not the next." She recalled one other incident of sexual intercourse. The day after Wood told her he might have given her a virus that caused cervical cancer because another female church member "had taken advantage of him."

    While vacationing near Peterborough, with three of them in a boat, Wood's wife stripped to her undergarments, while the woman and Wood were naked. The woman said she briefly performed oral sex on Wood. There were 15 to 20 other incidents of oral sex.

    Wood had such control on her life, she couldn't tell him to stop. She saw first-hand how people were ostracized once they left the church, that he said was "Bible believing and soul winning." She never left the church until it closed because she was too scared to leave. The woman admitted she wrote a letter of support for Wood for another court proceeding in 2008. "I felt I had to do it," she said.

    The trial continues Wednesday.


  3. Royden Wood’s church was ‘close to being a cult,’ says woman who felt she couldn’t say no

    By JANE SIMS, LONDON FREE PRESS October 20, 2011

    Royden Wood preached from the pulpit his "communication program" that encouraged people to make others feel loved. The pastor pushed for physical affection and freely allowed congregants to give each other back rubs during services. Part of his program, revealed in a sermon around 2000, instructed the flock that it was fine to ask a church member of the opposite sex to go out for coffee or a meal.

    One woman, who testified at the former Ambassador Baptist Church pastor's sexual assault trial, said she tried to go along with it. She knew other women in the church went out with Wood frequently. She walked up to him and asked him to go out for coffee. "I thought you'd never ask," Wood said to her. That began a change in the relationship between the 47-year-old happily married woman and church member for more than two decades and the minister who insinuated himself into the lives of all his church members. And that change, she said, was sexual.

    Wood, 62, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault involving five women who were members of the now-closed London church where Wood was the long-time pastor. The woman, whose identity is protected by court order, was the second to describe Wood's persistent sexual advances and how she believed she couldn't say no to him because of his position in the church and his closeness to God.

    "I can't emphasize enough the power he had over us, the control he had," she said. "I don't think the average person could understand what life was like in that church. In hindsight, it was close to being a cult." Wood knew everything about every church member -- from their finances to their sex lives. The biggest fear, the woman said, was to displease Wood and be kicked out of the church. So, when Wood told her he'd had a crush on her since she joined, then on a car ride kissed her passionately on the mouth, she was taken "aback."

    She said he called her all the time and told her about his problems with seizures and mental illness. He said "just breathing in my pheromones made him feel better." She said that on a visit to Wood's house with two other women, she was taken into the bedroom for some unorthodox marriage counselling where he asked her to tell him her deepest sexual inhibitions.

    She said she remembers lying on her stomach on the bed and Wood rubbing her back. She said she turned to the left and Wood was right beside her. "He had unzipped his pants and taken his penis out," she said. He told her not to be afraid. Then he stepped forward and had her perform a sex act, she said. "I remember sitting up and saying, 'I can't do this, I don't understand how this can be right.' " Wood told her " 'don't worry, when you go to heaven, if it's wrong, I'll stand up for you before God,' " she said.

    She said she was angry and upset but wouldn't reveal her emotions, fearing his reaction. She also described a massage session in the bedroom where she was told to get under a sheet naked and Wood hopped in beside her. His wife came in and asked them if they wanted coffee. "I thought, 'how could this not bother her. . . . If she's OK with it, it must be OK.' "

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  4. Sex activities escalated. Woman testifies she felt she couldn’t say no to disgraced pastor Roy Wood

    October 21, 2011

    She said she called him Dad and he treated her like his daughter. And for the woman who had been both sexually and physically abused by her stepfather as a child, Royden Wood's attention brought her some peace. That was until Wood, the disgraced pastor of the now closed Ambassador Baptist Church, changed the rules of their relationship while offering bizarre marriage counselling that involved sex.

    Wood, 62, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault involving five women who were members of the deeply-religious London church that one of them has described as almost a cult. The trial has opened the door on a community that isolated itself from the world and was under the leadership and spell of the charismatic Wood.

    The woman who testified Thursday has known Wood since she was a teenager when she came to live with the Wood family after leaving a group home. She met her husband -- now estranged -- through Wood and was an original member of the church in 1982, keeping up a close relationship with Wood while raising a growing family so large she could track events for assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings by matching them to her children's birthdates.

    Wood was her guide and she went to him for direction. But it wasn't until 1990, she said, that Wood and his wife approached her about addressing them as Dad and Mom. "They wanted to give me a family," she said.

    Wood undertook a program to get past her anxiety around men by holding and hugging her. She said she started to experience back problems and Wood applied techniques he had learned from various readings to help her align her spine. Those sessions eventually led Wood to convincing the woman to remove her top for massage and to allow him to massage "poison pockets" out of her breasts when she was nursing.

    None of the contact was sexual, she said, even the massages in her genital area when she was pregnant. The relationship changed in 2000 when Wood asked the woman during a visit while she was ill if she was looking after her husband's sexual needs, then molested her under her nightgown. She was embarrassed but knew she couldn't say no to Wood, fearing public admonishment.

    Wood decided the woman needed to learn to enjoy sex more and told her if was for the benefit of her marriage, to trust him and not tell. The weird tutorship led to Wood telling her in 2003 that she now needed to help him with his marriage because he had a low sex drive. During one incident where he asked her to show him how to "fool around" in a car, he said "I guess it's not a father/daughter relationship anymore."

    The activities escalated to Wood producing condoms and having sex with her both at his house and hers. "I closed my mind and did what he wanted," she said, even when she was sickened by it.

    Wood told her she would lose her marriage, her kids and her friends should she disclose the sex. She recalled Wood grabbing her by the hair, pushing her against a door and telling her she "had no say."

    The family left the church in September 2003. She told her husband about the encounters a month later. When her husband confronted Wood, the pastor became agitated and blamed her.

    The family has launched a civil lawsuit against Wood that's on hold until the criminal matters end, she said.

    The trial continues Friday.


  5. Pastor made advances after her husband killed

    October 21, 2011

    Just eight days after she'd lost her husband in a car accident that left her badly injured, Pastor Royden Wood was telling his faithful Ambassador Church member who he thought she should re-marry in the church. And while she recovered at the Wood home for two months after her release from hospital, her pastor would approach her when everyone was sleeping and touch her in her private areas of her body, he said, "so I could feel beautiful."

    The testimony from the 50-year old mom whose identity is protected by court order at Wood's sexual assault trial demonstrated a predominant side of the former pastor's personality - control. The woman, the fourth female congregant to tell a jury of sexual encounters with Wood, has a four-year degree from a Bible College and was an active member of the defunct church's community. Her account added more detail to what was going on inside the church controlled by Wood.

    The pastor told his flock to follow the Bible and destroy all their text books because "he was a man of God and he had all the answers." "We were gradually ostracized from the rest of the world," the woman said. It wasn't long after she and her husband joined the church in 1988 that Wood had become immersed in their lives, offering his advice on child rearing, finances and marriage. He told her he had chiropractic expertise when she complained about back pain.

    Sex seemed to be "an underlying topic" in all their discussions. Wood told her "I needed to become less inhibited and I needed to basically relax." Around 1995, her back issues intensified, causing headaches. Wood had a plan to help her through chiropractic lifting and manipulation. Often these treatments were given to her in his bedroom at his home.

    In 1998, after she had a tubal ligation, Wood's attention seemed to "ramp up" and sex was "always something brought up" in conversations. The first sexual incident was an unbuttoning of her top. During back treatments, Wood put his hand up her skirt and down her underwear. He touched her breasts and around her genitals. He told her for a man and a woman to be friends "there was a sexual hurdle that needs to be crossed over. It needed to be explored."

    Her husband died in November 2000, and she married her second husband in August 2001. Wood, she said, would sometimes show up at her house and touch her "to get you ready for (her husband)." The woman said she felt "a sense of impropriety and a sense of shame . . . I wish I could say no but I couldn't."

    There were three episodes of full-blown sex in 2003 in the backseat of his SUV and in his bedroom. After the third encounter, Wood called to say he was having "a bad day" and a certain sex act "made him feel better." She obliged him.
    When he asked again in October 2003, she said no. Wood stopped all sexual contact.

    In cross-examination by defence lawyer Alison Craig, the woman admitted she felt "an aspect" of love toward Wood, "but I wouldn't say I was in love with him."

    The trial continues Tuesday.


  6. Wood denies all sex acts. The ex-pastor testified he never inappropriately touched or had sex with the women

    By JANE SIMS, LONDON FREE PRESS October 25, 2011

    When Royden Wood was depressed, he said he'd pull away from people. But when he was on a high, he had a "very exciting life," he testified at his London sexual assault trial. But the former pastor denies his bipolar life included touching the female congregants of the Ambassador Baptist Church and having sex with them under the guise of marriage counselling.

    He says he didn't touch their breasts and private parts. He didn't initiate sexual contact or have sex with them. But he said his mental disorder, diagnosed a few years ago, plagued him throughout his pastorship at the church. "I didn't know I was bipolar," he said. "I just knew I struggled a lot with my feelings."

    Each of the five women who've testified at the bizarre sex assault trial, which has given the public a peek at life inside the Ambassador, has a grudge against him, he said, whether it's a lawsuit or desire to move the now-defunct church in a more liberal direction.

    Wood, 62, chose not to swear on the Bible before his testimony -- many conservative Christians choose not to. He spoke with a noticeable shake to his body. "It's caused by one of the medications I take," he said through defence lawyer Alison Craig, adding he's had "temporal lobe epilepsy" for many years.

    He told the jury he's been married to his wife Linda for 39 years and has six kids. He was a Toronto police officer for two years after high school. He left the force abruptly when he found how "terrified" his wife was about him in policing. He went to bible college but never graduated, opting to start his own church that would welcome homeless and low-income.

    Wood's church began in his living room on Lorne Ave. with six people in 1982 and grew to 300 at the corner of King and Adelaide streets. The family later moved to West Lorne. Wood was main preacher and offered three services a week and programs for kids and adults.

    He was asked by assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings how his mental illness might show up at church. Wood said he recalled preaching before the church had air-conditioning and said he could run all over the auditorium and keep talking. He fell into the baptistry when his hand slipped near a window. He got out of the water and kept on preaching.

    All five women said they had back problems. Wood testified he gave back and neck treatments based on what he read when treating his son. He said none involved the removal of clothing. Craig asked Wood to describe his relationship with each woman. Wood's descriptions were long and detailed, with each one having different issues with their former pastor. One had problems because she believed her husband's efforts at the church weren't appreciated. She and her husband have launched a lawsuit.

    Wood acknowledged he once preached that birth control pills caused abortions, until he was corrected by one of the women. But he denied all allegations of sex with the women. Craig listed each sexual touch described at trial -- from naked back rubs to full-blown sex -- and asked Wood if he did them.

    His answer was "no." "I don't know what a milk duct is," he said when asked if he squeezed breasts and milk ducts to remove toxins. At one point, he called the allegations "ridiculous," given his position in the church.

    The jury also heard the Crown's last witness, a 51-year old woman who described sex acts with Wood in 1995. She said she continued a flirtatious relationship with the pastor until 2007. Wood's cross-examination continues Wednesday.


  7. Royden Wood, 62, denies having sexual relations under the guise of counselling

    By JANE SIMS, LONDON FREE PRESS October 27, 2011

    The jury in Royden Wood’s sexual assault trial has heard about sex in his bedroom, other women’s homes, at the Ambassador Church office, in cars, vans and SUVs. Wood, 62, says it’s all lies. He denies ever having intimate relations with the women of the church.

    Five women say they did have sexual encounters with the pastor under the guise of counselling and feared they’d be publicly humiliated, criticized and ostracized if they didn’t comply with Wood, whom they described as a powerful man.

    Wednesday, after Wood finished his cross-examination, both the Crown and defence laid out their cases and gave the jury three options: believe Wood, believe the women, or believe the sex was consensual.

    “If he was the shepherd, they were his sheep,” said assistant Crown attorney Peter Rollings. “They knew the truth and the truth is it didn’t happen,” said defence lawyer Alison Craig.

    Wood, 62, former pastor of Ambassador Baptist Church, has pleaded not guilty to five counts of sexual assault over 15 years when he led the controversial church at Adelaide and King streets. Over nearly two weeks, the jury has heard from the women how Wood used his position in the pulpit to convince them into the bedroom for help with back problems and, ultimately, their marriage problems.

    Craig reminded the jury Wood denies it all and didn’t have to testify. Even if the jury believes there was sex, Craig argued, the five intelligent women gave consent to their pastor.

    “It’s not a crime to be a sleaze bucket,” she said, adding that it’s only a crime if a woman can’t exercise her right to say no. She reviewed the evidence and argued there were many similarities in the stories that show the women put their heads together and concocted the stories. Yet, she said, when pressed for details about the encounters, the women couldn’t be specific.

    All five women had motive to attack Wood, Craig said. One has launched a lawsuit, three wanted a more liberal church and one went to police when Wood wouldn’t help fix her house. All the women said they “couldn’t say no to Roy Wood” or face repercussions, Yet, when they did, the sex stopped, Craig said. She called the accounts “absurd” and said the Crown hadn’t proven its case.

    But Rollings said he had, and argued Wood was in a position of trust, power and authority that allowed him to influence the women. Wood, he said, gave his opinion when some women wanted tubal ligations. He told one to stop the sexual assault prosecution of her foster father.

    He noted the defence cross-examined the women mostly about the sex, even though Wood’s position is the encounters never happened. He said it was “disingenuous” for Wood to say “there was no sex but they were consenting.”

    Rollings also suggested the defence didn’t put that proposition to all five women. All the women had sexual inhibitions Wood knew about and “his involvement was to teach them to overcome them,” Rollings said.

    The only motive put forth for four of the women was that they were upset with the church “because people weren’t dressing properly and the music wasn’t good.” “It doesn’t pass the smell test,” he said.

    Wood testified he “wasn’t in a counselling relationship with those women” and talks were just “chit chat” between friends. He did say that in the manic phases of his bipolar disorder things might have been a bit over the top on Friday nights at his house when church members discussed his “communication program” by wrestling and “horsing around.” “I got a wedgie one day,” he said, referring to someone yanking his underwear, but that was the worst of it.

    Justice Dougald McDermid will charge the jury Monday.


  8. Preacher guilty on three counts

    November 2, 2011

    The last time former pastor Royden Wood had a poor result in the London courthouse, he told reporters gathered on the front steps that “revenge” on the part of his former church flock was behind his convictions. On Tuesday, a much different Wood, 62, quickly walked past reporters without a word, holding hands with his wife, Linda. But for one of the three women who the jury believed was sexually assaulted by the founder and leader of the now-disbanded Ambassador Baptist Church, there was some sense of relief.

    “It really helps to close a long part of my life that I’m glad to put behind me,” said the 47-year-old happily married woman who disclosed to the jury her secret sexual contact with her pastor. Wood, who now lives in Gravenhurst, was convicted Tuesday by a jury of three of five counts of sexual assault for long-term and intrusive relationships with female congregants.

    The decision came after about eight hours of deliberations over two days. Wood’s bizarre two-week trial offered a peek inside the strict, closed world of the church Wood founded and operate at Adelaide and King streets until 2007.

    Though there was disappointment that Wood wasn’t convicted of all charges, the woman said “God knows the truth.” “I think the jury did the best that they could do under the ­circumstances. It’s a hard ­circumstance to understand,” she said. “No sentencing will make up for the harm that’s been done to countless other people, but we can just keep praying that God will bring him to repentance and pray for healing for his family.”

    The complainants described sexual activities with their pastor, often under the guise of chiropractic treatments and creative marriage counselling to make them better wives for their husbands. While a jury never has to explain decisions, it was obvious this one rejected Wood’s testimony he didn’t have sex with any of the complainants and they had motives to hurt him. The remaining issue was whether the jury believed the sex was consensual or if Wood held such a position of power and authority in the women’s lives that they were unwilling but too frightened to tell him no.

    The guilty verdicts involved Wood’s relationships with three women. One is a 62-year old woman who said Wood was worried he gave her a virus that causes cervical cancer. Another is a 47-year old woman who told of a father-daughter relationship with the pastor and has launched a lawsuit. “It’s been eight long years” since she and her family left the church, she said. “Now I can say he did what I said he did. The justice system’s proved that.”

    Wood was acquitted of sexually assaulting a woman who carried on a flirtatious e-mail relationship with him years after the sexual encounters ended. He also was acquitted of sexually assaulting another woman who said Wood told her “a sexual hurdle” needed to be crossed before a man and a woman could be friends. Wood told the jury he is bi-polar and has epilepsy. He’s on medication that has left him shaky. During the trial, his chin and lower lip trembled constantly while he listened to the evidence. His wife and son sat behind him. Wood had little reaction to the verdicts when they were read. His lawyer Alison Craig said she wouldn’t comment until after Wood’s sentencing in January.

    In 2008, Wood defended himself without a lawyer at another Superior Court trial. He was convicted of nine assault charges involving boys who attended the church’s alternative school and three sexual assault charges for grabbing the breasts of two women in the church. Wood was sentenced to 11 months in jail. The latest trial showed another layer of criminality at the church on the part of the pastor, who set himself up as the only authority and convinced followers to abide by his teachings.


    Wood is to be sentenced Jan. 20.

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