It was a sensational story that made headlines — but it just wasn’t true. There never were any gang rapes outside Etobicoke Collegiate committed by nine former members of a cultish Korean church.
Instead, their lawyers maintain the sordid accusations were very likely concocted on instructions from Canada Jesus First Church’s controversial leader — Pastor Jae-Kap (Joe) Song — himself charged with sexual assault.
After more than 18 months of being accused of committing horrific acts of gang sexual assault, threatening death, child pornography and administering rape drugs, seven men and two women had all 485 charges against them withdrawn in the Ontario Court of Justice Tuesday afternoon. Crown attorney Paul Zambonini said that after a five-week preliminary hearing as well as audio and video evidence provided by the defence — including at least one airtight alibi — there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction” and they would be dropping the case.
“It’s certainly the proper thing to do based on the evidence I heard,” said Justice Antonio Di Zio.
Six members of Song’s Orangeville church initially claimed they were drugged, held against their will, beaten, threatened with death, sexually assaulted and videotaped numerous times between February 2009 and February 2010 by “brothers” in their congregation while two of the church’s “sisters” cheered on and videotaped the assaults. […]
Former followers and critics say Song kept his largely female flock behind locked doors where they were made to wear matching pastel uniforms and told that sex could cure their spiritual ills. His church, which has since relocated to Bayview Ave., had about 50 members at the time, with 40 of them young women from Korea and the majority here on student visas.
“We were certainly implying that it’s a cult,” said defence lawyer Rudy Koch.
Charged March 14, 2010, with the sexual assault of a parishioner, allegedly telling her he could rid her of evil spirits if she submitted to anal sex, Song has been accused of trying to mask his own legal troubles by forcing a group of his followers to go to police with bogus rape stories.