A Toronto pastor and self-proclaimed “prophet” can’t keep his identity secret in a paternity case just because the publicity could damage his reputation and hurt him financially, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Fred Myers dismissed a request by Martin Kofi Danso to extend a publication ban and sealing order on a court file related to allegations that he fathered a child with former congregant Chris-Ann Bartley.
Publication bans in family court matters are typically used to protect the identities of children involved, while Danso cited the risk to his “significant commercial/financial interests” as a reason for requesting a ban.
His request also said “the matter concerns the paternity of a child which is disputed.”
Bartley’s lawyer, Theodora Oprea, told the Star after Tuesday’s hearing that a DNA test has since confirmed Danso is the father of her client’s baby boy, who is now 6 months old. The test was not directly addressed during the court hearing.
In a sworn affidavit filed with the court, Danso claimed he had never had intimate relations with Bartley. On Tuesday, Myers called that Danso’s “Bill Clinton” moment, referring to the former U.S. president’s false denial that he had sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Danso’s lawyer argued that without anonymity, his client will face “emotional, harm, and stress,” particularly if allegations involving other members of the church — which have been posted on social media — are released to the broader public.
“He’s a public figure … he is not someone who will not be harmed by certain allegations,” Daniel Robertson said.
“It cuts both ways, doesn’t it?” replied the judge. “That also brings about the possibility of a public interest when somebody’s out there with 17 churches raising charitable money and tells a couple of big, fat whoppers in a sworn affidavit.”
Danso is the founder of Miracle Arena for All Nations, which operates 17 churches including chapters in Toronto.
SOURCE: BETSY POWELL