Calgary pastor accused of hate-motivated crimes at drag storytime has history of violence

Derek Reimer is escorted away from an all-ages drag brunch at the Rec Room in January. He was later arrested and charged with hate-motivated crimes after disrupting a storytime event at the Seton public Library on Feb. 25. (Brangwyn Jones - image credit)
Derek Reimer is escorted away from an all-ages drag brunch at the Rec Room in January. He was later arrested and charged with hate-motivated crimes after disrupting a storytime event at the Seton public Library on Feb. 25. (Brangwyn Jones - image credit)

A Calgary pastor accused of hate-motivated crimes after an altercation at a library drag event has a criminal history for violent assaults and animal abuse, a judge heard Wednesday.

As part of a contested bail hearing, Crown prosecutor Zailin Lakhoo offered new details on Derek Reimer's criminal history, the library disturbance and a jail cell attack the pastor is accused of committing.

Reimer, 36, was released on bail Wednesday following his arrest for breaching his previous release conditions after he showed up at another library drag book reading last week.

The pastor was arrested after a Reading with Royalty event on Feb. 25 when he allegedly shouted homophobic and transphobic slurs at children who attended the event.

Aggravated assaults

In 2015, Reimer was convicted in Calgary of causing suffering to a dog. He was given 12 months probation as a sentence.

Before that, Reimer faced two jail sentences in Winnipeg.

In 2011, he was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and handed an eight-month jail term plus 18 months probation.

Two years later, Reimer was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to two years in jail.

A number of other charges in both Alberta and Manitoba have been stayed or withdrawn over the years, including theft, mischief, intimidation and at least two other assaults.

Kids crying during altercation

On Feb. 25, Reimer showed up at the Seton Library for a Reading with Royalty event organized with Calgary Pride. The event was geared toward children who were six to eight years old.

Reimer pushed parents to get to the front of the room, where he shouted homophobic and transphobic slurs, causing some of the children to cry, according to Lakhoo.

The Crown says that, according to witness statements, Reimer bragged about getting three drag events cancelled in the previous eight days and said he planned to return to disrupt future events.

Reimer was arrested days later at his home and charged with mischief and causing a disturbance.

Assault on cellmate alleged

He was released on bail but refused to sign his conditions ordering him to stay away from LGBTQ2S+ community members and events. So Reimer remained behind bars at the Calgary Remand centre for several days.

During that time, Reimer was charged with institutional misconduct after attacking his cellmate, according to the Crown, who detailed some of the allegations for the judge.

On March 5, Reimer approached a guard asking for medical attention for a fractured hand, saying he'd punched a wall.

When sheriffs checked on Reimer's cellmate, the man was badly beaten, suffering injuries to his face and head. The victim required glue to treat two lacerations.

Unprovoked attack

Staff at the Remand Centre interviewed both men.

The victim said he woke up to Reimer assaulting him for no reason.

Reimer told the officers he attacked his roommate because he was "stinky and gross."

Police investigated but the victim did not want to pursue criminal charges.

Reimer finally signed his bail conditions on March 7 and was released. One of the bail conditions prohibited Reimer from going within 200 metres of events organized by the LGBTQ community.

He told his followers he signed the conditions only so he could seek medical treatment for his injured hand.

Reimer shows up at drag event

On March 13, Reimer attended a protest at the Signal Hill Library, where he said he would be back on March 15 for another Reading with Royalty event.

Reimer showed up at the event, setting up camp with a megaphone in a nearby parking lot. He was 160 metres from the library door, according to the Crown.

He was arrested by Calgary police and charged with breaching his bail conditions.

In opposing Reimer's re-release Wednesday, Lakhoo read aloud several quotes from videos of Reimer speaking that have been posted online within the past week.

"I can't stop doing what God has called us to do.… I know realistically I will end up back in there," he said of being in jail.

Reimer released

Defence lawyer Ben Allison fought for his client's release, telling the judge that Reimer believed he was prohibited from being within 100 metres of the event, not 200 metres.

"If he really meant to breach, he'd be at the library door," said Allison.

If convicted of the criminal offences, Reimer likely faces a 30- to 60-day jail sentence. With credit for the time he's already served, Reimer is getting close to what he would serve for a sentence.

Provincial court Judge Susan Pepper agreed to release Reimer but imposed new conditions.

'You say you are a man of God'

Reimer cannot go within 300 metres of Reading with Royalty events or any other events organized by the LGBTQ community.

He cannot intentionally interfere with any person trying to participate in an LGBTQ event.

And he cannot have contact or communication with any known participant, performer or spectator at a Reading with Royalty event.

The Crown indicated police are considering further charges against Reimer of public incitement of hatred.

"You say you are a man of God, you say you are religious. I hope that's important to you that you not make people feel hated," said Pepper.