Church leader jailed for sexual assault

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IOL news nov 14 gavel_sep 4 Independent Newspapers

Suva -

The leader of an evangelical church in Fiji was jailed for two years on Wednesday after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman who approached him for counselling, reports said.

All Nations church founder Reverend Epeli Ratabacaca was sentenced in Suva High Court after being found guilty last week on one count of sexual assault and acquitted on two rape charges, the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Ratabacaca, 54, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, was initially sentenced to four years but the jail term was reduced to reflect the military veteran's previously clean record, news website said.

It reported that the assault occurred in June last year when a woman approached him for help after suffering anxiety and depression after the birth of her fourth child.

Judge Paul Madigan described Ratabacaca's actions as “a gross breach of trust” that warranted a custodial sentence, noting the cleric had expressed no remorse towards his victim.

The All Nations Christian Fellowship's website says Ratabacaca founded the evangelical movement 15 years ago. It says it has churches all over Fiji and in more than 60 countries around the world. - Sapa-AFP

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