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Verdict in Brent Hawkes' gross indecency trial pushed back to Jan. 31

Last Updated Jan 10, 2017 at 5:00 pm EDT

Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes arrives at provincial court in Kentville, N.S. on Thursday, November 14, 2016.The verdict in the gross indecency trial of prominent Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes has been pushed back because the judge needs more time. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

KENTVILLE, N.S. – The verdict in the gross indecency trial of prominent Toronto pastor Brent Hawkes has been pushed back because the judge needs more time.

Judge Alan Tufts was going to hand down his verdict Jan. 18, but Crown lawyer Bob Morrison says the trial will now reconvene Jan. 31 because Tufts needs more time to prepare his decision.

Hawkes, a high-profile rights activist who officiated at former NDP leader Jack Layton’s state funeral in 2011, has pleaded not guilty to charges of indecent assault and gross indecency.

The charges stem from events in the mid-1970s, when he was a teacher in his mid-20s in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley.

The trial has heard emotional testimony from a middle-age man who said Hawkes led him down a hallway naked during a drunken get-together at his trailer and forced oral sex on him in a bedroom when he was about 16 years old.

But taking the stand in his own defence last November in Kentville provincial court, Hawkes categorically denied the allegations.

Originally from Bath, N.B., Hawkes has been a senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto for 38 years.

Considered one of the spiritual leaders of Toronto’s gay community, he is also known as a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage, and in 2007 was appointed to the Order of Canada.