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Jailed Alberta pastor to be released from jail but must pay $1,500 fine

Last Updated Mar 22, 2021 at 12:13 pm PDT

A photo of James Coates and his family. The Edmonton-area pastor has reportedly had all but one of his charges dropped on Mar. 17, 2021. (CREDIT: Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms)

Alberta pastor who was violating COVID-19 restrictions will be released from jail after 35 days

James Coates from GraceLife church will have to pay a $1,500 fine

STONY PLAIN, Alta. — An Alberta pastor who was jailed for violating COVID-19 restrictions will be released.

A judge has allowed James Coates from GraceLife church to go free after spending 35 days in jail. Coates will be forced to pay a fine of $1,500.

Coates agreed to plead guilty to the charge of disobeying a court order after he was told to stop holding large church gatherings after first receiving a penalty from Alberta Health Services (AHS).

However, two other counts relating to the public health order have been dropped.

The judge did not agree to a smaller fine of $100 and said he wanted to make a statement about people who continue to disobey public health orders.

Coates was in prison after refusing to abide by a bail condition that he not lead services at the church.

A trial on the charge of breaching the Alberta Public Health Act is set for May.

The Canadian Press