A religious leader and self-acclaimed “prophet” told a woman that God “showed him” she would die if she refused to abort his unborn child, according to a Toronto judge’s reasons for rejecting his request to conceal his identity in a paternity case.
Last week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Fred Myers dismissed pastor Martin Kofi Danso’s request to shield details of his paternity lawsuit against his former lover, Chris-Ann Bartley, a member of his church. He said reasons would follow and they did Friday in a 13-page decision.
“Ms. Bartley’s evidence is that when she approached Mr. Danso to tell him that she was pregnant, he asked her to have an abortion. When she declined, she claims that he told her that “the Lord showed him if I have the child I would die,” Myers wrote in his ruling.
Danso is a married father of four. His wife, Rev. JoAnne Danso who helps operate his Miracle Arena for All Nations church chain, is pregnant with twins.
Last month, Danso commenced a lawsuit against Bartley asking for a paternity test but also a publication ban on the proceedings. Justice Jasmine Akbarali ordered the test and agreed to Danso’s request for a temporary order under the Children’s Law Reform Act to seal the court file and ban publication of details of the case.
She accepted Danso’s evidence that he stood to lose much if Bartley’s claim was publicly disclosed.
“If in fact his evidence that he was never intimate with the respondent is true, these losses would not be the natural consequences of his actions, but rather, an unfair and devastating injustice,” Akbarali wrote.
The nub of his argument seeking a publicity ban was that he is a prominent figure and would incur significant financial loss if he was the subject of a false allegation of paternity
“I did not have sexual relations with the respondent,” Danso wrote in a July 10, 2018 affidavit filed in court. He swore Bartley’s claims “are designed in bad faith to make me pay child support for the child who was fathered by another man.”
During last week’s proceedings, Myers’ referred to this as Danso’s “Bill Clinton” moment.
Bartley, who intends to seek custody and child support from Danso, expressed shock in her affidavit that he was denying the two had an affair. She provided “evidence that they had an ongoing intimate relationship from the fall of 2014 until the end of May, 2017,” Myers says in his ruling.
Less than a month after Akbarali ordered the paternity test, Canadian DNA Services concluded that the lab’s testing established a 99.999996 per cent probability that Danso is the father of the baby boy, who is now six months old.
“Mr. Danso swears that he was “shocked” by the outcome of the DNA test,” Myers wrote.
“But, he now admits to having been seduced by Ms. Bartley. He says that being married, he offended his marriage vows, and was too frightened to admit his limited contact with Ms. Bartley. He referred to their relationship as a mistake that should not have occurred.”
The judge added that Bartley “has produced contemporaneous text messages from Mr. Danso that suggest that Mr. Danso may have thought otherwise at the time.”
Bartley was represented by lawyer Theodora Oprea. Danso’s counsel was Daniel Robertson.
In his judgment, Myers wrote that the public interest in open and accessible court proceedings “weigh in favour of declining the publication ban and sealing order sought.
“Important discussions are occurring among members of a church and the public concerning the conduct or misconduct of the spiritual and business leader of the church. Suppressing the facts in this case will not reduce a proven risk of harm to the baby, enhance any other public interest, and can only prejudice important public discussions.”
Myers concluded by questioning why Danso “chose to put this matter into the public realm,” calling it a mystery “given his knowledge that he had an intimate relationship with Ms. Bartley.” He added both parents “have the ability to put their child first and protect him from any further details escaping by quickly settling if they are so minded.”