TORONTO - A pastor at a Scarborough church has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman while performing “exorcisms” on her.
Toronto Police alleged Wayne Marlon Jones, 53, of the United Spiritual Baptist Church, at 787 Midland Ave., near Eglinton Ave. E., offered spiritual guidance to a woman between May 2011 and May 2013 when he performed exorcisms.
The woman was allegedly convinced to turn over money and property, according to investigators. And while it was not clear Wednesday where the alleged assault took place, the initial complaint was processed at 14 Division — at 350 Dovercourt Rd. — and not 41 Division where the church is located.
The investigation has been ongoing since Jones was arrested in August. He’s charged with sexual assault and three counts of theft fraud over $5,000. Exorcisms themselves are not illegal, police said.
“We are encouraging anyone who has additional information to come forward to police,” said Toronto Police spokesman Meaghan Gray.
The church’s website identifies Jones as a “bishop,” who founded the United Spiritual Baptist Church in June 2000.
He was born in Trinidad and Tobago and is the eldest of 10 children. He came to Canada in 1984 and married his wife, Debra Jones.
He was ordained a minister in 1987 and opened his own congregation, Mt. Ararat Spiritual Baptist Church. He began as bishop in 1990.
“Bishop Dr. Wayne M. Jones is a man who believes in gratitude, and because of this, he always talks about how grateful he is to everyone who has touched his life in some way to get him to where he is now,” says his webpage profile.
“Bishop Jones has a vast number of spiritual children, and considers himself blessed to have been given stewardship of them by the almighty God.”
The church — located in a corner lot bungalow — appeared to be vacant Wednesday without any footprints in the unshovelled snow on the walkway and side driveway.
A portable speaker system was left at the side of the house. There was a pentagram carved into the peeling white paint on the front door.
Neighbours claim the church was operating for about seven years but vacated in August following a dispute with the city and later at the Ontario Municipal Board over being denied a minor variance to — according to a city document — permit “the place of worship to remain on the main floor with a residential dwelling unit in the basement.”
“I know he went to the OMB and pulled his application just prior to going there, so it probably just closed,” said Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who represents the area. “He was reckless in his behaviour. We sent (bylaw inspectors) in and he said he didn’t care and that he was going to fight this and do what he wanted to do.”
But during the years when the church operated in the house with its Sunday sermons, some 30 cars would line the residential streets with worshippers of all ages, including young children.
“Weird things go on over there,” said Sue Lamonday, 60, who lives across the street on Brussels Rd. “It didn’t make sense people would be there at 2 a.m. until 4, 5, 6 a.m. I walked by last summer and heard (a man) screaming, ‘God is going to save you from the fires of hell if you hand over your help any way you can.’”
Jones could not be reached for comment at his Ajax home Wednesday, but two neighbours confirmed he lived there with his wife and son, who is in his mid-20s.
Jones will appear Feb. 11 at Old City Hall court.