A prominent Sechelt businessman will stand trial on charges of sexually assaulting or sexually touching four teenagers.
Fred Church, 69, showed no emotion during two days of detailed testimony at his preliminary hearing at Sechelt Provincial Court. Judge Dan Moon ordered a publication ban on the evidence presented during the hearing Feb. 3 and 4.
Church also pleaded guilty to improper storage of three firearms at his home in Halfmoon Bay. He was fined $300 for that crime and prohibited from owning firearms for three years.
Originally there were five alleged victims, four boys and one girl, who were all between 12 and 15 years old. The alleged sexual incidents took place in 2001 and 2002.
One of the boys did not give evidence during the preliminary hearing, and the charges related to him have been dropped. Church will go to trial on the charges related to the other four alleged victims in B.C. Supreme Court. No date has yet been set for the trial.
Altogether, Church is charged with two counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose, two counts of sexual interference with a person under 14 and two counts of invitation to sexual touching with a person under 14. Church is a prominent person in Sechelt, a long-time volunteer with several community groups. For many years he ran the National Car Rentals business in Sechelt as well as a travel agency. He was married at the time of the alleged assaults and lived with his wife in Halfmoon Bay, at a house where some of the assaults allegedly occurred.