US worship leader in Milton jail, can’t make bail or pay a lawyer

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.

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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47 Responses to US worship leader in Milton jail, can’t make bail or pay a lawyer

  1. Torontonian says:

    Peru is the largest source of cocaine exports
    in Latin America and a BBC News
    article bears this out. I hope the link works.

    Was Charlie Clark framed?

  2. Bene D says:

    Hi Torontonian:

    Link works, thanks.

    It crossed my mind that if Clark was duped, the Peruvian connection may not have known he was heading to Canada. That doesn’t make much sense in hindsight because Air Canada has a direct flight and if the cocaine was planted, the ‘gift givers’ probably knew his destination.
    Was Canada the destination for the drugs?
    Who was picking it up at this end?
    Most of the cocaine coming into Canada comes through the US.
    The risk is equally high to import into either country.

    There are travel advisories for US citizens in parts of Peru (restricted). Some denominations prepare and warn short term trippers well, many churches don’t.

    It is odd no one has stepped forward to help Clark from the US.

    There are a lot of unknowns, I looked on every church and church FB page he is a part of or has been a part of and there is no mention of his arrest.

  3. Missing Facts says:

    I’m glad BD that you are not finding Clark guilty before proving him innocent. You must have had a change of heart.

  4. Bene D says:

    Missing Facts:

    I’m on the fence regarding guilt or innocence, the courts can do their job.

    I’m more concerned about his Christian friends – where are they?
    Nothing on line, not a mention, no expressions of surprise, support, nothing.
    Was thinking about Matthew 25.

    You have to admire the defence attorney for putting this into media, I suspect he did so in the hope that someone who knows Charlie Clark will step up.

  5. Missing Facts says:

    Christian friends often disappear when someone is accused of a crime. They not only abandon a brother, but they ignore the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was also abandoned when He was accused. BD you have not always been on the fence when people have been accused, you have not waited for the courts to their job in many cases on this blog. I’m glad you’re thinking about Matthew 25. Hopefully you’re taking this blog to find a better purpose. Does Charlie have anyway to receive donations? Right or wrong Charlie does not deserve to be railroaded.

  6. Greg Vail says:

    I am a friend of Charlie’s and just heard of this thru a mutual friend that emailed links and this story. I am stunned to say the least! Charlie is a good guy that would appear to be in a horrible mess right now. I have not heard from him and only know he was “out” last time I played at First Pres in Oceanside a few weeks back.
    My wife is Canadian and I hope to track this to find out what is going on and see what we can do tomorrow.
    I know many other friends have just found out tonight along with my wife and I. I don’t know what First Pres is doing if anything but I know Charlie is too nice a guy and could well have taken a package with him with good intentions. I hope we can get this sorted out a resolved quickly.
    Totally stunned by this news….

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s ridiculous to base your assumption that no one from his former churches are coming to his aid or trying to help in some way simply because you don’t see anything posted on the church websites.

    Your assumptions are wrong. Most of us (his friends in CA) have only recently found out (some just today!) and there ARE efforts to help underway.

    If you’re genuinely concerned for Charlie, please pray. Don’t try to stir up controversy based on assumptions. Thank you.

  8. fred says:

    We don’t know about the drugs, but his musical ability is criminal

  9. Old Friend says:

    I have know Charlie for years. Most of us are just finding about the situation today. I am sure that there will be support for him soon. I am very sure that Charlie is the victim in this case.

  10. Bene Diction says:


    I agree – a lack of something posted on a church website is not sufficient reason to make that assumption. Good to hear that word has finally reached California and that efforts to help Mr. Clark are under way.

    It’s remarkable and sad that he has been in the Milton jail for a month tomorrow, and it appears no one missed him.
    I agree prayers are in order, I have been praying for Mr. Clark, and as you and others attempt to assist him, I’ll be praying for you.

    If you care to keep me updated – I’ll update the post.

  11. Bene Diction says:


    I am sure this is stunning for you, I’m relieved to hear networking is going on and practical assistance is on the way.

  12. Bene Diction says:

    Hi Missing Facts:

    You are correct, I am not always on the fence when people have been accused, I don’t believe at times courts are the final word, just the legal one.

    As you can see, friends of Charlie Clark are just finding out he is jailed in Canada, and as they get organized I’ll try to keep you updated re: donations etc.

    I don’t know him, his story touched me, the attorney reaching out to media touched me, and I agree, he does not deserve to be railroaded.

  13. Bene Diction says:

    Old Friend:

    Good to hear support is on the way.

  14. BD says:

    For the American friends of Charlie Clark:

    US Embassy Ottawa:
    Tel: 613-688-5335

    Maplehurst Correctional Complex, Milton Ontario:
    Tel: (905) 878-8141

    The lawyer who met with Mr. Clark and who got this story into the media:

  15. Missing Facts says:

    Again BD, I commend that you desire to help Mr. Clark without hearing all the facts. You know when someone is accused, the first thing the defence attorney does is advise his client not talk to anyone until the trial. Based on that, I don’t understand how you can pass judgement on someone before hearing all of the facts as you mentioned in your previous comment and have done on other cases.

  16. Fact says:

    He was not on a mission trip, but is not guilty of knowing what was in the suitcase.

  17. Fact says:

    Fact 1: He’s not a Pastor! He’s not Pastor material! He’s a Worhips leader.
    Fact 2: He’s a Liar!
    Fact 3: He uses women, lives off of them and plays them!
    Fact 4: He has sex with anyone and doesn’t care who he hurts
    Fact 5: What kind of guy will carry condoms with him and then call himself a Pastor?
    Fact 6: He says “Its not about the sex, it’s about the heart” Where does it say that in the Bible???
    Question: Does this sound like a true Pastor who’s running after Jesus? Think not!

  18. Hopesome says:

    We have held ‘pastor’s vicars and the like to be people that we ‘look up to’ who have a greater knowledge of the biblical than maybe we do, who represent the bridge between us and ‘Jesus’ who are there when we need comfort, insight, wisdom or a voice to say your ok/ its ok/ don’t panic Jesus loves you……….. There are times when a sermon can bring you ‘home’ to what has been a place in the widerness of your heart, there are times when the worship on offer is lyrical, tunes in to your despair and enables you to forget for just a while ‘DESPAIR’, there are even times when friends and congregations can bless you and smile and say ‘your welcome’………. there are times when the sublime and divine come together and you are lost in the wonder of its heaing balm and magnifiscense ………………

    You can get really ‘caught up in it all’ ………………….

    and lose your sense of meaning, reality, and objectiveness ………………..

    Whatever the verdict of mans judgement or opinions this gentleman has now to do battle for either his innocence …………….. or his lies ……………….

    As at the end of the day ……………… we all do …………..

    Sir may peace be with you ……………

  19. Bene Diction says:


    I happen to agree, a worship singer, or a worship band leader is not considered a pastor. to the majority of us, a music degree is not an ordination.

    Please be careful, we have different libel laws in Canada than you do.
    I’m going to give you a play nice warning, see the About page on BDBO.
    You are free to express your negative opinions or knowledge; preference with, I think, I believe, I feel, I have first hand knowledge…

    You said Charlie Clark was not on a missions trip to Peru.
    Where was he, what was he doing, and how would you know that?
    While I have your attention, do you know what churches he was visiting in Canada?

    I am also concerned for people in his life – Charlie Clark was carrying nearly a million dollars worth of cocaine that did not get to the people who were expecting it. Whether the cocaine destination was Trabuco Canyon or Canada, ticked off criminals could retaliate.

  20. Not Surprised says:

    I met Charlie as a friend of a friend. I immediately thought he was slimy. After everything I’ve seen and heard about him, I have to say that I am not surprised at all and highly doubt that he is a victim in anything.

  21. GregVail says:

    One thing I really don’t appreciate about the web is the faceless ability to say something without regard to accuracy or accountability. Fact has a name and, apparently an axe to grind and I know it is an ex that is recent and not a fan – obviously. My only comment is – real people have names and cowards post under fake names, shot a few bullets and run. Not Surprised is obviously a friend and adds no facts to the situation other than to be faceless and rude too boot.
    Note: a real name and website attached.
    Signed Greg Vail, sax player guy and friend of Charlie’s

    Bene Diction – It would appear that he was not on a missions trip, and my thought is, the attorney made this statement as part of a viable defense. I really hope to speak to Charlie soon and get the real scoop. In the mean time, thanks for attempting to keep the blog free of character attacks without facts.

  22. Bene Diction says:


    Thanks, if you are able to keep us updated, that would be appreciated.

  23. Not Surprised says:

    Not cowardly…cautious. Here are the facts of my experience with him as you requested: I observed Charlie take advantage of several women, living off them while refusing to take work that he felt was ‘beneath him’. He talked with an inflated self ego of half-million dollar deals that he was ‘working on’. He was arrogant; and as I said before, had a slimy, creepy factor about him that I’m not surprised men may not pick up on. I hope that he gets a fair trial and justice is served, whatever that may be.

  24. fjc says:

    Why do people hold Pastors in such high regard.

    You too can become a Pastor, get a Masters or a PHd. simply by sending away to one of those degree mills or those so called for profit Bible Colleges. I think the going rate for a Doctorate of Divinity is about $300. Or you can just print shop your own for free.

    It is worthwhile to separate the learned ones from the imposters. And there are lots of the ‘wing nut’ imposters floating around-spreading their nonsense and fleecing the flock.

  25. fjc says:

    The courts will decide.

    One thing for sure…if he is found guilty all his supporters will be claiming that the devil was at work in the judge that sentences him. These folks have an answer for everything. Whether it is believable is another issue.

  26. fjc says:

    It is a real shame.

    My understanding is that there is hardly a person in jail today who does not claim that he/she is innocent.

  27. fjc says:

    You do the crime….you do the time.

  28. Larry Gerling says:

    (Removed at the request of the commenter – BD)

  29. Bene Diction says:

    There has been nothing in Cdn news since August – I don’t know if Clark has a lawyer as yet. I suspect he’ll sit in jail until trial.
    Where was this cocaine going, and if this was a ‘missions trip’ why didn’t he tell someone, and as you say, ask for prayer?
    The surprise of his US friends about him showing up in Canada is odd.
    It’s also odd that none of the Canadian churches Charlie Clark was supposed to visit have expressed concern.

  30. Greg Vail says:

    Well, I guess even Jesus had a Judas, but I don’t think he is anybody to aspire to be. Please add me to your list to not call for services. I am not a fan of back stabbing brother’s in Christ and could add another 3000 words explaining why, but believe the pearls before swine concept makes further response senseless. Congratulations on your new boast in job security. Watch out for that Holy Spirit guy though; He doesn’t sound like He’s too cool when it comes to kicking people when they are down or selfish desires….

  31. Greg Vail says:

    Bene, I know he was working as a courier and was not on a missions trip or going to Canada to work with any churches. He had told people this very same thing. What I don’t know is where the author of that article came up with any of those statements. He was working a side job as a courier – that’s all.
    Charlie has an attorney and is in the process of getting this worked out. I also heard from a friend that has been in touch with Charlie that the amount of drugs was reported incorrectly and it was more like 2 Kilos. We are going there next week and will meet with Charlie then.
    I will say this again – I believe the first attorney is responsible for the spin on the facts that were reported in the news. Charlie’s story has yet to be heard thus far and the blog seems to be recording a lot of hearsay and opinion with little fact or proof.
    Bene – My last post was in response to Larry Gerling’s response. I missed that you had already posted. I don’t ‘know’ Larry but I do know an inappropriate post when I see one….

  32. Bene D says:

    I don’t see Larry’s comment as inappropriate, he is entitled to his feelings and observations. It is my understanding that the Presbyterian Church has two types of services with traditional and contemporary music – and would draw two different types of crowds and different styles of musicians. Mr. Gerling is listed as the traditional music director. The service Charlie Clark worked in, is a 9 am, the traditional service at 10:30 am.

    Thanks for the update.

    Working as a courier – okay, do you mean he stopped off in Canada to drop off drugs or something else?

    While the pro bono lawyer (or the Mississauga News reporter) may or may not have some facts correct, I credit the lawyer for getting Charlie Clark’s story out there.

    2 kilos of cocaine are worth about 60 thousand dollars – 9 kilos/2 kilos is quite a discrepancy.

    That all having been said, it’s good to hear Mr. Clark now has a lawyer and his friends keeping in touch.

    Would you be kind enough to keep us posted? ie: trial date etc?

    I hope all things considered you enjoy your trip to Canada.

  33. Greg Vail says:

    Bene, I feel like any believer taking joy in the failure of another believer is specifically written against in the word. I see verses that promote a humble approach and delicate response to those in need or in trouble. I see a method laid out in scripture, explaining how to approach conflict and deal with it properly.
    I see Jesus defending the prostitute and and actually talking to the evil Samaritan woman at the well. I also see Jesus taking apart the religious leaders of the day with their pompous attitudes and self righteous egos. I see leaders that think they are over their people chastised. I feel like the prideful response from Larry only serves to bring some joy in Charlie’s dilemma and some added pride on the back side.
    I am so glad that Contemporary thing failed!
    If I walked around his workplace, I am sure I could find any number of people talking smack about him since that is what people tend to do at Church. “You know so and so….” With the attitude visible in Larry’s post, I am confident it would take only minutes to get there. The question is – How appropriate is it to post ‘facts’ that no one will admit to saying – so they are all feelings???
    If you don’t see that, then that is your feeling on the matter and that’s is fine too.
    If the blog is to based on just feelings, then please ask me what my feeling was being involved at that church. Or maybe even what my feelings were of Larry, even though I probably never spoke a word to him? He didn’t seem that nice….

  34. Bene D says:


    This blog is based on more than feelings – and this particular post about what is going on with Charlie Clark is short on facts, just as the initial news reports are. That has concerned me. I expect as things unfold, subsequent news stories will fill in some of the blanks., and I expect to update Clark’s situation as things unfold and information is available.

    All I cared about and worked for was reaching out to anyone who knew Charlie Clark, with this post, by twitter, and by email. It understandably chewed up a lot of my time. I’ve been clear about why I’ve done this, and I’m not breaking my arm patting myself on the back, or beating myself up because I could have, should have, would have…
    Let’s not make this about what I permit under a post such as this, there is a US citizen sitting in the Milton Hilton, (Maplehurst Correctional Complex) who was unable to afford a lawyer, is facing serious prison time, and who needs help. (Matthew 25:36)

    I expect mixed reactions, people who are shocked, surprised and looking for answers behave in all kinds of ways.
    I can only be responsible for my behaviour, my words, opinions and attitude.

    Bottom line – Larry did not violate site policy. I’m grateful he commented – I reached out to his church and didn’t hear anything back. I had no idea if the email wound up in spam or what was going on. Now I know, and for that I am thankful.

    Be miffed, upset, disappointed, whatever you need to be.
    You are both adults, with different experiences and viewpoints.
    There is room here at BDBO for both of you, no matter how uncomfortable.
    I trust the Holy Spirit to work in all our lives.

    I’m grateful you’ve also taken the time to comment and that you have started to fill in the blanks for the rest of us, thank you.

  35. Greg Vail says:

    Thank you for a very thoughtful response and I appreciate your candor. I will let you know and post my findings when we talk with Charlie, probably in a week and a half when in Toronto. Blessings and appreciation to you and your blog.

  36. Bene D says:

    Looking forward to what you have to report – safe journey.

  37. Galeforcewind says:

    It is no surprise to me to be reading about Mr Clark getting caught doing something of high risk. He portrays himself as a man of God, but his secret life of sex addiction, liaisons with married women and his students from college tell another truth that most people would be shocked to know. I was one of Charlie’s victims, and had the gift of discernment at work, so God showed me things the average person would never see. I found Charlie to be seriously deceitful, using everyone and everything around him to his own benefit, and he’s been accused by more women that can be counted, of preying on them for sex. Charlie was warned to stop sexually harassing the young college students in his classes, and he was on every sexually explicit website available.while with him, I caught him on my computer on several dating sites, all with different profiles, mostly made up. I found him with a list of women he was meeting about daily for sex. When I confronted him, he told me about 10 different stories and lies. All false. As I got to know him, and understood who he was, I also discovered there were suspicions about something far more criminal that would put him away for life. I don’t say this lightly, and I’m not accusing on the latter statement, but this God showed me and it was confirmed in several ways. Just no evidence to prove it. And it wasn’t about drugs. Charlie loves to live on the edge, taking big risks because he gets a high from it, especially when he gets away with it. I know he was fired from several church jobs and lost everything over the past 8 years. I know he was broke financially and was desperate. I don’t know if he did this, but I wouldn’t be the least surprised, and he is a masterful liar and will try to convince everyone he didn’t. Big Crocodile tears. He should NOT BE LEADING WORSHIP OR WORKING AT ANY CHURCH! He is a wolf in sheeps clothing! His talents are big, and they are the perfect disguise for someone of this horrible character. I can’t imagine how he got a job at Saddleback church, considering anyone with discernment should see through the fasade. I am not judging, or pointing my finger, I am speaking the truth and from personal experience. The Bible says not to join in with people who are living a life of sin, and that we need to “EXPOSE” them. So it should be known who he really is. I have no bitterness, and I’m praying for Charlie as we all should. I’m praying that the truth will be told and if he’s innocent that he is released from custody. I am also praying that God uses this situation to put the true FEAR OF GOD in him. Women be warned, he is not to be trusted. He’s the kind of person, who, after his mother died, continued to use her Handicap license plate to park closer to the places he went. He uses women, cheats, lies and fabricates. It’s time his close friends stop covering for him as well.

  38. Bene Diction says:

    It is interesting that women voicing their opinions have a completely different picture of Charlie Clark than the men who led worship with him.
    Makes sense in a way, before a service, or in practise, most people are on their best behavior.

    One man who worked with Charlie recently and who asked to have his comment removed, had things to say that did not square up with some of the Saddleback guys from Charlie Clarks past.

    Charlie Clark has disappeared into the system – there has been nothing – whether he has a lawyer, a court date…nothing.

  39. Galeforcewind says:

    To be clear, the close friends I mentioned are not his current worship bandmates.

  40. Pastor Phil says:

    I have been visiting Charlie Clark in prison since August 2013. He is a precious child of God. Much loved. Knowing that we are all sinners in the sight of God, should make us cautious about what we say about anyone. Stand back and see the salvation of God and be ready to ask for His mercy and forgiveness.
    Pastor Phil

  41. Bene Diction says:

    Hi Phil:

    What is Mr. Clark’s legal status? Has he had court appearances, does he have a lawyer and when does he go to trial?

  42. greg vail says:

    Phil. How can we get his id to him?

  43. phil says:

    Working on it Greg.

  44. Greg Vail says:

    Bene, Charlie was released on Tuesday and is back in Southern California now. There were 19 other guys that were in the same situation and are in the process of being released or have been released. The bad guys have been rounded up and are in custody.
    Possibly, a few others that posted ugly on this blog will be requesting removal of posts?
    I really don’t understand people calling themselves friends, and then stab a brother in the back with no proof of allegations AND under a cowards hidden BLOG name.
    TODAY –
    Horrible situation and hardship for Charlie done!
    Sad and sick response by many on this BLOG.
    Elated that Charlie is out of the hole and home!!

    Huge thanks to Pastor Phil!! The the guy at the prison that helped along the way, and the 2 male friends of Charlie’s that went way beyond the call to help!! Those of us that care about Charlie and very grateful to you all…

  45. Pastor Phil says:

    Greg, I am so blessed by your friendship with Charlie. I d di not want to comment further on this blog without Charlie’s permission. Now that everyone knows that Charlie is a free man, I want to give the Lord Jesus all the glory and honor. He worked the miracle for Charlie’s freedom. Is it coincidence that this happened just one day before Good Friday? I think not. Jesus was Charlie’s advocate, His blood paid the ransom for Charlie. He knew who Charlie was and allowed him to lead several persons in prison to the Lord. Now, on Resurrection Sunday, Charlie can start afresh and anew, knowing that the Lord himself stepped in on his behalf. I’m disappointed and saddened too by the nasty comments of others on this blog. The Christian army has been infamous for its soldiers being the first to shoot its own wounded. Even the world does not do this. Jesus offers all of you the grace to make a new start too. When you are born again, God comes to live in you. Do you think He would allow you to speak like that against another of His own. Jesus himself said that a house divided against itself would not stand. I urge all the critics to go to Jesus and ask for His compassion and love.
    As for me, I just answered the call from Matthew 25:39 and served Jesus when He was in prison. I was blessed to serve.
    To Bene: THANK YOU for the very direct questions you asked in your opening sentences of the blog. By reading that, I felt the pain and loneliness of Charlie and Jesus used you to get to me. You be blessed.

  46. Greg Vail says:

    I LOVE you Phil!! God is shining out of you with so much grace and love. Hope to meet you this side of heaven and if not, we gotta hang on the other side bro!!!

  47. BD says:

    Greg and Phil:

    You are welcome, thank you for the update – I am glad that people stepped up for Charlie Clark. I can appreciate it is his story to tell.

    This Easter, worshipping the risen Christ will have fresh meaning for sure. He is Risen.

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