For eight years, Samuel Emerson was a pastor at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church, also known as “Cloverdale Church.”
His last day as a pastor came on May 18, when RCMP “showed up at the door of the church” and led him out in cuffs, said Samuel’s father, Randy Emerson, who is the current pastor of Cloverdale Church.
In a media release issued Tuesday afternoon, Surrey RCMP revealed that they received several allegations of sexual assault against Samuel Emerson and his wife Madelaine on May 17, 2017.
The South Surrey couple – who have five children – were arrested the next day.
Samuel Emerson, 34, has been charged with 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.
Madelaine Emerson, 37, has been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in a position of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.
The alleged assaults occurred between 2015 and 2017.
Surrey RCMP explained the 4½-month delay in announcing the arrest that “there was no investigational or public safety need to report out on this matter.”
The day of the arrest, Randy Emerson wrote on Facebook: “If you know us and our church please pray. We are under attack like never before and we need the accuser of the saints to be silenced and Truth prevail.”
Two days later, he wrote, “Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and expressing love at this time. You are making a difference. This is a time when we must not believe with our eyes and ears but with our spirits. Let God be true and every man a liar. Can’t be specific at this time but your prayers are making a difference.”
Randy Emerson and his wife Christine started the Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this Sunday.
“Sam, being our son, was a part of the church right from the beginning,” he told the Cloverdale Reporter on Wednesday. “If I’d seen anybody go out that way, it’s traumatizing. Any of our staff taken away (in cuffs) would be tough… Being my son, it was it just the cherry on the ice cream, you know?”
The couple was not previously known to police, and they were later released under “strict conditions… sufficient to alleviate any safety concerns,” an RCMP spokesperson said.
One of those conditions is that Samuel and Madelaine cannot have contact with the church, according to Randy.
No mention of Samuel or Madelaine is on the church’s website, but according to his social media accounts, Samuel was a pastor at Cloverdale Church, and worked with Youth Church Cloverdale.
Randy said that Samuel worked “in every ministry of the church,” which includes the youth ministry.
Samuel Emerson’s work as a pastor also took him to other churches in Surrey, including Life Church in White Rock. In a Facebook post in September 2016, Life Church wrote, “This Sunday we welcomed young Pastor Sam Emerson from our sister church in Cloverdale, B.C.”
“Sam grew upon our church, and had some very important insights to share,” the post reads.
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Following the arrests, Sunday services at Cloverdale Church were subdued for “almost two months,” said Randy.
“People were in shock for the first while,” he said. “It was very, very difficult and very quiet and subdued. For the last couple of months we’ve been building towards something lively and full of life again. For awhile it was just, like, everybody was just staring off into space.”
The congregation went from a crowd of around 250 people to 50 people.
“People just left,” said Randy. “These are people, some of them that we’d worked with for 25 years.”
“They were ripped out of our relationships just immediately. And they wouldn’t talk to us. At all. Afraid, and I don’t know what for,” he said.
“As I understand it, none of the allegations occurred at the church,” said Randy, “which is where we work very hard to keep it safe here. We’re even reviewing those policies and protocol to see if we can tighten everything up.”
Randy said that Cloverdale Church’s safety protocols are “pretty typical.” They include criminal record checks for staff. No minor is left in a room unsupervised with an adult if the minor and adult are “opposite genders,” he added.
“As far as we know nothing happened [at the church],” said Randy. “And I can’t control stuff that happens off the property and on people’s own time.”
The Cloverdale Church continues to be active in its work. “We continue to do the things that we’ve always done, but it’s on a much more subdued level,” said Randy. ”We’ve pulled back, but we’re not stopping.”
Surrey RCMP have said the investigation into Samuel and Madelaine Emerson is still ongoing, and that they believe there may have been other victims.
They are asking that any potential victims come forward to speak with police.
Surrey RCMP as that anyone with more information call 604-599-0502, or, if they wish to remain anonymous, to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.