(LifeSiteNews) –– Crown prosecutors have dropped COVID charges levied against Ontario Christian pastor Dr. Aaron Rock of Harvest Bible Church for holding a church service contrary to COVID rules in 2020, and for protesting at an anti-lockdown rally.
Rock’s lawyer, Christopher Fleury, said Wednesday that he is “pleased to see Crown Attorneys across the province are taking a more reasonable and practical approach to prosecuting these types of offences.”
“There is at least some tacit acknowledgement among Crowns that the public interest in continuing to prosecute ROA (Re-opening Ontario Act) breaches is minimal to non-existent,” noted Fleury.
According to Fleury, Rock “is satisfied with the outcome of these charges and will continue to fight one remaining charge in a third jurisdiction.”
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), which fully funded Rock’s legal defense, said he was charged under the Re-opening Ontario Act (ROA) on two separate occasions.
His charges were dropped on February 6 by the Crown Attorney in Windsor.
Another charge levied against Rock, this one from Stratford, Ontario, was withdrawn at the request of the Crown on February 16, 2023.
In December 2020, the provincial government of Ontario put in place very restrictive measures, including gathering limits on places of worship, which it claimed were needed to curb the spread of COVID.
With Rock’s church being in Windsor, Ontario, he was subjected to the rules under the Re-opening Ontario Act (ROA), which sought to limit services to no more than 10 people, which Crown prosecutors alleged he violated.
According to the JCCF, the evidence submitted by the Crown “was a video recording filmed outside of Pastor Rock’s Church” which showed some individuals “leaving the building, but these individuals were not identified or charged with any offence.”
“Pastor Rock did not appear on the recording. The Crown agreed with defense counsel that there was insufficient evidence to prove the alleged breach of the ROA and withdrew both charges,” said the JCCF.
As for Rock’s second COVID charge, this one occurred in Stratford where the pastor was alleged to have spoken at a public gathering.
The JCCF noted that Rock’s purpose for speaking in Stratford “was to protest Ontario’s COVID-19 response.”
“On that charge, Pastor Rock entered into a Diversion Agreement where he voluntarily made a modest charitable donation. The charge was then withdrawn with no admission of guilt,” noted the JCCF.
As of late, other Canadian pastors who were charged for violating local COVID rules have also had their charges dropped.
Last month, Canadian Crown prosecutors dropped 2021 charges levied against pro-freedom and anti-lockdown Christian pastor Henry Hildebrandt from the Church of God in Aylmer, Ontario, for allegedly violating COVID health orders related to worship size gathering limits that were in effect at that time.
Hildebrandt and Rock are not the only high-profile Canadian COVID dissenters to be spared punishment by the courts for alleged health violations.
In January as well, former Ontario member of provincial parliament (MPP) Randy Hillier had a COVID charge against him stayed by the courts.