Sexual assault charges laid against Surrey, B.C. lay leader in historical case

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By on June 1, 2022
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Surrey RCMP have charged an Anglican lay leader in the diocese of New Westminster with sexual assault relating to a historical case alleged to have taken place between 1985 and 1988.

The RCMP says the assaults are alleged to have been committed at Christ Church Surrey Centre (which became Christ the Redeemer Anglican Parish in late 1988), and involved someone attending the Sunday school program. The accused was a member of the church committee and a synod delegate at the time of the incidents.

Brian Robert Walks, 68, faces one count of sexual assault. He was released after his arrest on court-imposed conditions that limit his access to people under 16 years of age.

Bishop John Stephens said in a pastoral message to the diocese of New Westminster that he was “deeply saddened by the disturbing information released by the Surrey RCMP” on May 19.

“No complaint alleging misconduct on the part of the accused has ever been received by either the diocese, the parish where he worshipped at the time or his current parish,” Stephens said. “However, if a criminal complaint is raised, the diocese defers to and respects the integrity of that process.”

“Allegations of sexual abuse directed toward clergy and lay of our diocese are taken very seriously and action immediately taken,” he added. “When the accusation came to light earlier this spring, the accused was contacted in writing by the rector of his parish informing him that effective immediately and until further notice he is relieved of all ministry responsibilities.”

The bishop asked Anglicans to join him in prayer for all affected—including the victim, accused, their families and the two congregations—and to ask for God’s wisdom and guidance to direct all involved as the investigation unfolds.

Police received a report of the alleged sexual assaults on July 8, 2021. They laid charges on March 10, 2022 and arrested the accused on March 13. The RCMP are seeking additional details from anyone who attended the named churches in the 1980s.

“Although the alleged incident occurred more than 30 years ago, we believe that there are likely people in the community who attended the church and may have additional information,” media relations officer Vanessa Munn said in an RCMP statement. RCMP are asking anyone with information to call the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 and ask to speak to the Special Victims Unit.

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  • Matthew Puddister (aka Matt Gardner) is a staff writer for the Anglican Journal. Most recently, Puddister worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014. He previously served as a city reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. A former resident of Kingston, Ont., Puddister has a degree in English literature from Queen’s University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. He will continue to support corporate communications efforts during his time at the Journal.

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