Calgary pastor no longer faces sex assault charges after judge finds police negligence

All charges against a former pastor accused of sexually assaulting two girls and a young woman have been stayed by a Calgary judge who found a police detective had been negligent in his investigation.

Wagdi Iskander, 54, had faced three charges of sexual assault and one charge of sexual touching stemming from alleged incidents that occurred between 1994 and 2013. The accusations involved two complainants who were underage at the time of the alleged incidents and one who was in her 20s. 

At a hearing last week, Iskander's lawyer Jennifer Ruttan argued there was an abuse of process involving the investigation and lead detective and that it affected Iskander's right to a fair trial. 

Provincial court Judge Harry Van Harten found the detective displayed negligent conduct during the investigation. Van Harten delivered an oral decision and his written reasons will follow. 

Ruttan argued there were numerous problems with the investigation, including that witnesses' statements may have been tainted and evidence lost.

Three separate trials had been set to take place this year. 

Charges also stayed against original victim 

Iskander was originally charged in April 2015 after a man reported 50 to 60 inappropriate incidents involving his pastor that began in 1994 during counselling sessions when the alleged victim was 11-years-old. 

The boy originally contacted police in 1996 but his family decided not to pursue the matter. In 2015, he again reported Iskander to police and the file was reopened. 

Those charges were withdrawn by the Crown several months later, but after the initial media release the three other complainants were identified. 

Iskander a pastor until 2012

The three women were between the ages of 11 and about 25 when they say they were assaulted by Iskander, who was their pastor at the Arabic Baptist Church — now known as the Arabic Alliance Church.

Iskander was a pastor until 2012.

Crown prosecutor Matthew Block has not said if there are plans to appeal Van Harten's decision.

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