16 Oct 2008

Pastor who married girl, 10, guilty of sexual assault

National Post - Canada
October 16, 2008

Canwest News Service

MONTREAL - A self-proclaimed pastor who argued his sexual relations with an underage girl were legal because he married her in the church that he invented when she was 10, has been found guilty of sexual assault of a minor.

Sentencing arguments for Daniel Cormier, 57, and founder of the now defunct Church of Downtown Montreal, will be heard in November.

Cormier was arrested in 2003 and charged with sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual assault and two counts of sexual exploitation of two girls.

Acting in his own defence, Cormier delayed the court trial for years.

His years-long relationship with the victim, which started when she was eight or nine and he was 47, ended when she was 13 and social services intervened.

During the trial, he insisted the relationship was consensual and it was the girl who initiated sexual relations.

It isn't a crime to have sex with your wife, he testified.

The girl started spending weeks at Cormier's apartment after he helped the girl's mother get off the street and kick her drug habit. The mother said he was like a father figure to them.

Cormier drew the downtrodden and the homeless to become members of his church.

A social worker testified that Cormier helped the former prostitute "care" for her child.

He helped pay their bills, and fund her orthodontic care. She also testified the two had sexual intercourse when the girl was 11.

The judge threw out Cormier's "marriage" defence in June, saying there was no evidence of a marriage and the marriage certificate Cormier presented was a fake.

Cormier was out on bail until June, when he contacted his victim, who is now 19, in direct violation of his bail agreement.

He told his victim he loved her more than anyone in the world except Jesus, and gave her a time and place they could meet.

During the trial, he argued that he loved the girl -- "I'm not a pedophile," he testified. "I'm a Mariaphile."

Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

His victim contacted police, who met him at the rendezvous and escorted him to prison for violating his bail agreement.

He'll remain behind bars until his sentencing hearings next month.

Cormier is scheduled to begin another trial in January in another case involving sexual touching of a minor.

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