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Pastor found guilty of sex offences

A former New Brunswick church minister was found guilty on Friday of two charges of sexual exploitation and sexual interference.

Frederick Hanson, 61, was charged with two counts of sexual interference and two counts of sexual exploitation of teenaged girls who were members of his congregation.

He was found guilty Friday of one charge of sexual exploitation and one of sexual interference against one girl under the age of 14.

He was found not guilty on the other two counts against two other teenagers.

When the jury read off the guilty verdicts, the complainant gave a sigh of relief inside the Woodstock courtroom.

Hanson's wife, Laverne, cried and was comforted by her daughter.

Outside the courtroom, family members of the victim said they were relieved Hanson was found guilty on at least two of the charges.

The three teenage complainants cannot be named because of a court order, but the aunt and grandmother of one girl spoke to CBC Friday.

Relief for family

"I’m glad it’s over. It’s been a long two years for these girls. My niece has been through hell. And now she can get along with her life," the aunt said.

"I say to my granddaughter, don’t let her past define her future. God is real and he will help her," said her grandmother.

"She has had a traumatic time and I’m here to support her and help her and just pray that the people who have been putting her down will see the error of their ways."

The Crown prosecutor, Pierre Roussel, said the complainants had mixed reactions to the verdict.

"Some of the complainants are a little disappointed today. The other one is pleased with the result and as far as we’re concerned, we know that the verdict that has been rendered is about the more serious of the offences with which Mr. Hanson was charged," he said.

"The Crown, for the time being, is happy with the verdict that was given and we will examine the other two verdicts, the ‘not guilty’ verdicts."

Even though the jury found Hanson not guilty on the two other charges, the family said it was those two complainants coming forward that inspired the third girl to speak out.

Hanson will be sentenced on June 18.

At the time of the offences, Hanson was the minister at the Free Will Baptist Church in Plaster Rock, about 100 kilometres southeast of Edmundston.

Hanson will be returned to jail in St. Hilaire, N.B., where he is currently serving a six-month sentence on an unrelated sex charge.