For­mer preacher headed to trial on sex charges

The Casket - - LOCAL - STEVE BRUCE THE CHRON­I­CLE HER­ALD com­mu­ni­ties@her­ald.ca

A for­mer pas­tor at a church in Up­per Ham­monds Plains has been com­mit­ted to stand trial in Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court on his­tor­i­cal sex-re­lated charges.

Michael Oliver Fisher, 39, of Antigo­nish was ar­rested last year and charged with sex­ual as­sault and sex­ual ex­ploita­tion.

Fisher is al­leged to have com­mit­ted the of­fences against a 17-year-old girl in 2008, when he was an as­so­ciate pas­tor at Em­manuel Bap­tist Church.

A pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry was held Thurs­day in Hal­i­fax pro­vin­cial court. Judge Amy Sakalauskas sent the mat­ter on for trial after hear­ing ev­i­dence from the al­leged vic­tim and an­other civil­ian.

There are publi­ca­tion bans on the iden­tity of the com­plainant and the ev­i­dence pre­sented at the in­quiry. Fisher, who is rep­re­sented by Dart­mouth lawyer Michelle James, will ap­pear in Supreme Court in Hal­i­fax on Sept. 6 for ar­raign­ment. He has elected to be tried by a judge alone.

Of­fi­cers with Hal­i­fax’s in­te­grated sex­ual as­sault team launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Au­gust 2016 after the al­leged vic­tim filed a com­plaint with po­lice.

Fisher has worked at St. Fran­cis Xavier Univer­sity in Antigo­nish since 2014. He was placed on leave from his job as co-or­di­na­tor for stu­dents of African de­scent in the spring of 2017.

When the charges were an­nounced, a St. F.X. spokes­woman said there was no ev­i­dence stu­dents at the univer­sity were ever at risk. Fisher re­mains free on an un­der­tak­ing with con­di­tions to have no con­tact with the com­plainant and no­tify po­lice within 48 hours of any change in his ad­dress or em­ploy­ment.

Ear­lier this year, the Crown agreed to re­move con­di­tions that re­quired him to re­main in Nova Sco­tia and sur­ren­der his pass­port.

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