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Church still paying youth pastor convicted of pedophilia

VANCOUVER -- A British Columbia youth pastor convicted of pedophilia in Mexico is still being paid by his parish.

Brad Firth, the former supervisor of youth activities at St. David's Anglican Church in Tsawwassen, has been receiving "compassionate pay" since being arrested on the Baja peninsula, about an hour south of Tijuana, in 2004.

"He is suspended with reduced pay," said Rector Rev. Paul Woehrle. "We are giving something to support him and his son."

Prison Barbed WireImage by Dana Gonzales via Flickr

Woehrle said the money -- $1,000 a month -- goes toward buying additional food and water and for physical, mental and emotional counselling for Firth and his adopted Haitian son.

The parish is also covering his legal fees.

Asked about how the parish justifies paying a convicted pedophile, Woehrle said: "We had a plan that says until the appeal process is exhausted we would continue this financial support.

"The appeal process has not been exhausted yet. That's our rationale."

The decision to continue paying Firth was based on and supported by a parish council vote, he added.

Neale Adams, spokesman for the Diocese of New Westminster said he didn't know the current status of Firth's employment.

"He is employed, or was employed, by the parish and not by the diocese," said Adams.

Firth was convicted in June of sexually abusing a 14-year-old Mexican boy who attended a Bible camp at the Ensenada church in 2001.

He was sentenced to 11 years, minus four years served for the time he has spent in La Mesa penitentiary since being arrested on July 15, 2004.

On Oct. 14, Firth appeared before a Mexican tribunal of three judges to appeal the conviction. The results are expected in the next weeks.

The church has posted a prayer since the conviction, asking parishioners to pray that Firth's appeal goes well and for the well-being of his lawyer.

Since being incarcerated, Firth has continued his pastoral work by ministering to fellow inmates and holding Bible studies.

Firth had been going on twice-yearly missionary trips to Mexico for eight years when he was arrested.

If and when Firth returns to Canada he will be greeted by police.

Firth is wanted on an outstanding Canada-wide warrant by Delta Police for one count of possession and one count of accessing child pornography.

He faces up to five years in prison on both charges.

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