A church leader has been sentenced to two years and three months jail on indecent assault charges involving seven young females, one as young as 10.
The man, who was a pastor at a Pasifika church at the time of the offending along with other positions of trust, has interim name suppression as he is appealing a district court decision to lift it.
The eight charges relate to indecent assaults spanning from 2001 to 2019. Six of his seven victims were in court today.
Now adults, two of them have spoken to 1News about the trauma and impact on their lives.
“I have major trust issues and for a long time I felt it was my fault…my work knows as well. I just shut down and tell them I need these days off. I just can’t function. I definitely have depression,” she said.
The women also blame the church for, they say, covering up his offending when it received complaints about him 20 years ago.
“They are supposed to be a safe haven but they have disregarded everyone’s feelings…like I said to the police in my statement, they have offered me no counselling. They offered me not even a prayer,” she said.
In the Auckland District Court today, one of the victims said she had confronted the church two decades ago and nothing was done – and she is now facing him with other victims.
“The thought running through my head right now is whether these girls would have been saved if they knew who you were and what you are capable of – our young girls now and our future generations deserve better,” she said.
“For the past 21 years you have lived comfortably in your house and used your titles and position to gain the trust of the community, churches, family and customers to your business.”
Judge John McDonald commended the victims for having the courage to come forward and said the defendant was a man they all looked up to, and as a result of his offending almost all have left the church.
“You had standing in the church in the community – the balance of power in favour of you against them was overwhelming a breach of trust,” he said.
Judge McDonald said it was his view that the defendant’s remorse was for himself and his family – and a prison term was appropriate.