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Judge denies bail for pastor accused of violating public-health orders

Last Updated Mar 5, 2021 at 9:46 am MDT

EDMONTON – A judge has dismissed the bail appeal of an Edmonton-area pastor in custody for violating public health orders.

James Coates with GraceLife Church, west of Edmonton, has been in jail for over two weeks after turning himself in for the violations.

This means that Coates will remain in custody until his trial in May.

Coates is charged with violating Alberta’s Public Health Act and with breaking a promise to abide by conditions of his bail release, which is a Criminal Code offence.

RELATED: Trial date set for Alberta pastor who held church services despite health orders

His lawyer, James Kitchen, told court Thursday that Coates can’t follow a bail condition that forbids him from holding services, because that would violate his conscience by disobeying God.

A prosecutor argued that the pastor’s release is a danger to the public.

The church has been holding services that officials say break public-health orders on attendance, masking and distancing.