Reverend Brent Hawkes has been charged with sex crimes related to incidents in Nova Scotia in the 1970s.
Hawkes was charged by the RCMP in December with indecent assault and gross indecency in Kings County, N.S.
Well known for his social activism work in the LGBT community, Hawkes has been senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church for nearly 40 years.
Hawkes, 65, strongly denies the allegations.
“I want to be crystal clear: I am innocent of these allegations,” he says in a statement posted to the church’s website on Monday. “The purported events simply did not take place. While it is impossible for me to understand where these almost 40-year-old accusations come from, I have a faith that will sustain me as well as faith in Canada’s justice system.”
He is being represented by lawyer Clayton Ruby, who said in a statement he believes his client will be “vindicated.”
The board of the church also released a statement saying Hawkes had its full support.
Hawkes was award the Order of Canada in 2007 for his work in the LGBT community and has been recognized by the City of Toronto and the United Nations Toronto Association.