The Cowichan River Bible Camp is located on Riverbottom Road near Duncan. (Google Maps)The Cowichan River Bible Camp is located on Riverbottom Road near Duncan. (Google Maps)

Former camper claims sexual abuse at Cowichan River Bible Camp

Surrey pastor accused of sexual assault is former board member of Vancouver Island camp

Just weeks after dozens of sexual assault charges were laid against one of its board members in a series of incidents in theLower Mainland, Cowichan River Bible Camp has been alleged as the scene of other assaults.

Surrey pastor Samuel Emerson, who was a board member of the bible camp, has been charged with 25 criminal code offenses related to at least five victims, including: 13 counts of sexual assault, 11 counts of being in position of authorityand touching a person for a sexual purpose and one count of sexual touching of a person under the age of 16.

Camp general director Gerald Wall confirmed this week the camp has cut ties with Samuel after police announced thecharges earlier this month.

Samuel’s wife, Madelaine Emerson, 37, has also been charged with one count of sexual assault, one count of being in aposition of authority and touching a person for a sexual purpose, and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.

Court documents show most of the offences are alleged to have taken place in Surrey, where until his arrest, Emerson wasa pastor at the Cloverdale Christian Fellowship.

One alleged sexual assault, according to court documents, occurred in or near Cowichan Bay between July and August2014.

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Duncan resident Alexis Masur attended Cowichan River Bible Camp on Riverbottom Road for four years starting when shewas 15. She alleges she, and others, were assaulted at the camp and at the affiliated Oasis church by an adult that was notEmerson.

“It started out with really long hugs, then their face would get closer to me and they would start giving me kisses on thecheek and then they’d start kissing me on the lips and then the next thing you know they’re caressing me to the pointwhere they’re touching my genitals,” she explained.

She said she knew what they were doing was wrong but she felt powerless.

“They were a really well respected leader in the church and respected at the camp too,” she said. “This person was smart,they knew how to make me take blame. I was so afraid that if I said it out loud that I would never be loved again. Thisperson had power, and if I said a peep, almost everyone I respected would turn on me in an instant.”

Masur is haunted by the youth she left behind.

“When I left that church, I ran, and I never looked back. But I always feel guilty because I know if I had stayed, and foughtthat I could prevented other people from having the same thing happen to them,” she said.

Masur’s allegations took Wall by surprise.

“This is news,” he said Tuesday morning. “I won’t respond to that right now. All I know is that we do have protocols in placefor our staff and that this comes out of left field. I have no prior knowledge of this. Until we have some confirmationthrough the RCMP, I won’t respond any further.”

Police are now calling on other victims to come forward.

“Calling the police to report a sexual assault is a very difficult thing to do especially when the suspect is someone you knewand trusted, and can leave lifelong emotional scars,” said Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “Our highly skilled investigators takesexual assaults very seriously, and, supported by our Surrey RCMP Victim Services workers, are here to listen and provideemotional support.”

On Tuesday morning Wall said the camp had more than 60 years of history and “thousands of great, kind and trustworthyindividuals and leaders who have and continue to make Cowichan Camp a great place.”

“In the light of unfolding information and charges involving Samuel and Madelaine Emerson, we first want to extend ourprayers and support for the victims of these reported [alleged] events. Words do not soften the pain of those victimized ortake away the shock of those on the periphery.

“When the first news of these allegations were brought to light the Emersons were removed from our summer guest speakerlineup and Samuel resigned his position on the Board of Directors. They have not been to camp since,” Wall said. “We knowthat only a small portion of the Emerson’s itinerary involved time at Cowichan Camp, but we would encourage anyone whomay have been a victim of the accused to reach out to the authorities.”

Both Samuel and Madelaine are due back in court in Surrey on Oct. 31.

Masur has not reported her complaint to the RCMP.

Sarah