Brian Johnston as a new recruit to the Dartmouth Police in 1980. — Photo: Halifax Archives

Brian Johnston is expected to step down as Pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Truro, Nova Scotia after officiating his final service this Sunday following a report by the Halifax Examiner about a pending lawsuit against the Halifax Regional Police in which he is implicated.

Contacted by the Examiner, Johnston declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that in the early 1990s Johnston, then a police officer with the former Dartmouth Police Department, forced a 13-year-old girl to perform oral sex on him while he was on duty in a police vehicle. At the time, the girl was living in Sullivan House, a group home for sexually exploited youth.

In court documents, the girl is identified by the initials X.Y.

The lawsuit alleges that about a year after being sexually assaulted by Johnston, X.Y. was sexually assaulted by another police officer, Wade Marriott, of the RCMP. The Examiner has yet to uncover any present-day information on Marriott.

In or around 2005, X.Y., then an adult, was still in contact with the Juvenile Task Force. The suit alleges that when X.Y.’s main contact retired, Johnston, who was then both a detective with the Halifax Regional Police and pastor at Zion Baptist, became her main contact.

The suit alleges that as X.Y.’s and Johnston’s relationship “escalated,” Johnston “began coercing the Plaintiff to engage in further sexual activities with him, including sexual intercourse,” often while he was on duty.

X.Y. alleges that in 2006 she became pregnant and that Johnston is the biological father of her child.

According to documents filed in the lawsuit:

Cst. Johnston was unhappy with the Plaintiff s pregnancy and instructed her to either get an abortion or go through with the pregnancy and give the baby up for adoption once it was born.

The Plaintiff decided to keep the baby. Cst. Johnston instructed her not to identify him as the father on any documents and contacted government agencies to explain it was in the best interests of the mother and child that the father not be identified on any documentation.

As alleged, X.Y. “eventually reported Johnston to the head of the Juvenile Task Force and RCMP Inspector Brad Sullivan; Halifax Regional Police internal affairs; and retired Juvenile Task Force Member and RCMP Officer Doug MacKinnon.”

“The Plaintiff received no support from the aforementioned people,” according to the lawsuit.

While working as both as a detective for the Halifax Regional Police and as the pastor at Zion Baptist, Johnston also helped run a restorative justice program for men arrested for soliciting prostitution. He has since retired from the police. Johnston also worked at the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children in the 1970s before becoming a police officer.

Multiple members of Zion Baptist Church have told the Examiner that Johnston called an emergency meeting Wednesday, the day after the report surfaced, with members of Zion’s executive board of management where he denied the allegations.

Sources tell the Examiner Johnston plans to officiate his final service at Zion Baptist this Sunday via telephone conference call before stepping down as pastor.

Members of the church are said to be in the process of trying to arrange an emergency meeting with the African United Baptist Association (AUBA), the longest-standing Black organization in Nova Scotia to which Zion Baptist is one of its member churches. The meeting is called to discuss revoking Johnston’s privileges.

An AUBA office assistant confirmed to the Examiner that a request for comment has been forwarded to AUBA Moderator David Provo.

Johnston and Marriott have not been criminally charged and the allegations against them have not been tested in court.

With files from Zane Woodford.

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Matthew Byard writes news, profiles, and stories of the Black Nova Scotia community. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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