See the important update at the end of the post.
How can a former Saddleback worship leader sit in an Ontario jail with no money, no defence attorney and no one from churches he works for, or worked for in California stepping up and helping him out? Why aren’t people from the churches he was coming to visit here in Canada helping him? What Canadian churches were expecting him, and are they assisting him?
Charlie Clark lists himself as a worship leader at 1st Presbyterian Church Ladera Ranch, California, he lists a former music professor at Orange Coast College a former worship team member at Saddleback Lake Forest, and as the former worship pastor at North Orange Christian Church, Peninsula Community Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, and worship pastor at Grace Church in Cypress California.
Where is this mans family?
Clark is not listed on the Saddleback Lake Forest site, there is nothing on the church blog about his arrest, I didn’t find anything about a Saddleback missions trip to Peru.
Charlie Clark is employed as the contemporary worship leader at 1st Presbyterian Church Oceanside according to the church annual report. Are fellow leaders and the congregation doing anything to get Clark a Canadian lawyer and get him out of jail until his trial? There is nothing about his arrest in the church newsletter from July or August. There is nothing on the church Facebook page.
Charlie Clark is sitting in jail in Milton Ontario because he was arrested at Toronto Pearson International Airport July 23rd. He said he was coming to Canada to visit churches after a missions trip to Peru.
Charlie Clark, 58, of Trabuco Canyon, California, remains in custody after a brief appearance in Brampton court today (Wed. Aug. 14) and has been forced to find a new lawyer because he has no money.
“Given the fact he is a U.S. national and was unable to have anyone come forward to retain me I was forced to halt my defence of him,” said defence lawyer Gary Batasar. “I certainly wish him the best and I hope he is ultimately vindicated.”
Clark was also denied bail because no one has shown up to act as his surety.
Last month, Canada Border Services Agency officers arrested Clark shortly after he exited a flight from Lima, Peru at Pearson International Airport.
During an inspection, customs officers found “anomalies” on a passenger’s suitcase. They opened the luggage and discovered about nine kilograms of cocaine, believed to be valued at more than $850,000.
The case was turned over to the RCMP.
Clark is charged with importing a controlled substance.
Charlie Clark has been in jail about 3 1/2 weeks. I’m speculating he went to Peru through a PCUSA missions opportunity. According to the US Embassy, he has the right to Canadian legal aid if he can’t afford an attorney.
…the Consulate, upon request, can facilitate communication with family and friends, provide a list of attorneys, and assist in arranging the transfer of personal funds from the U.S. to pay legal or other costs.
…The Consulate strongly suggests that detainees obtain the services of an attorney, either private counsel or one provided through the Canadian legal aid system.
His former lawyer:
Batasar said the charge makes no sense and both he and his client believe the drugs were planted.
“My client is stunned by the allegations and it certainly does not comport with his work as a missionary,” Batasar said. “It’s clear that he was an unwitting dupe and we look forward to an expeditious trial of this matter and a formal declaration of his innocence.”
I have no idea how much a Canadian defence lawyer charges to defend a US citizen charged with bringing in nearly 20 pounds of cocaine, nor how much bail would be; but duped or guilty Clark has the right to counsel, and his day in court. He deserves support while he sits in a Canadian jail.
Conviction on importing a Schedule 1 drug is punishable by up to life in a federal prison.
Update: Friends of Charlie Clark say charges were dropped, several others were also released and other arrests made. (See the comment section) Clark returned home to Southern California.
Update: I often wondered what happened to Charlie Clark. He tells his story in the comments below, and it’s quite different than the original newspaper article in a small newspaper here in Canada. He and other US citizens were the victims of an alleged elaborate scam and drug operation here in Canada and South America. He is not happy with the original story and has asked me to remove it. I’m not going to. If that original story however fabricated, embellished or un-factual it may have been, (or why it may have been) hadn’t been published, Charlie’s friends others may not have been able to find him, as he was incarcerated federally in Canada for 9 months. He is still traumatized.
As Charlie Clark points out, this is a cautionary tale, one that could happen to most any of us in a vulnerable time in our lives. It was the kindness of a Canadian prison chaplain who got Charlie Clark the rest of the way home to San Diego when Canadian officials put him on a plane and dumped him in Detroit. He and others were deliberately targeted. He has lost everything, his reputation, his home, his job and his savings. Well, he hasn’t lost everything, his faith is stronger than ever and he testifies to God’s faithfulness through months of uncertainty, threats, fear and lostness. He still has his friends who came to his rescue, but healing and rebuilding could take a lifetime. The charges against him have been dropped and any record of his time served in Canada erased. Charlie Clark and others will be freely returning to Canada next year to testify against the alleged Canadian drug smugglers.