Candles inside a church. Picture: Pixabay
Pretoria - The head of the Anglican Diocese of Pretoria, Bishop Allan Kannemeyer, said it was a sad day that a church tribunal would decide on the fate of a priest facing charges of sexual misconduct.

Kannemeyer said he was disappointed and angry that one of their priests had pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct with a member of the church.

He said he was sad that one of their own meant to provide guidance and counselling had opted to take advantage of his authority instead.

Kannemeyer was responding to information that the church was yesterday on its second day of a three-day tribunal looking into sexual allegations against one of the clergy.

According to emails sent to the victim, which the Pretoria News has seen, the church acknowledged it had instituted the Diocesan Tribunal to deal with allegations levelled against the priest.

It stated that the priest was charged with “sexual assault, sexual immorality, conduct giving just cause for offence, including without limitation, offensive or abusive language, and any inappropriate relationship or activity of whatever nature”.

It also includes charges of fraudulent, corrupt or dishonest conduct.

The priest in question, according to the email, would be suspended for the duration of the tribunal.

According to the victim, she repeatedly slept with the pastor against her will fearing that her refusal would result in her losing her job.

She said in March 2018 she met the priest and asked him about a possible job.

She was later allegedly told that a post of verger had opened up and she should apply for it, the priest even going as far as preparing her for the interview.

After being appointed on June 1, she said she was given accommodation to stay with a student.

She alleged the priest had sex with her on three occasions, twice at her place and once after work.

“I told him that I did not like what he was doing, but I did not resist. He took advantage of me because he knew how much the job meant to me. I did not want to lose my job.

“I never gave him any reason to believe that we had a relationship. I did not give him permission to sleep with me.”

The woman said she reported the matter to her mother who sought help from the bishop.

However, she alleged that instead she was dismissed from her job under false allegations of neglecting church property after two break-ins.

Kannemeyer confirmed that the issue had been brought to the church’s attention earlier this year after which he advised the member to report the matter to the police or their internal proceedings or opt for both.

He said she lodged a complaint with the church, wherein preliminary investigations conducted between July and August revealed a prima facie case against the priest existed.

It was then that the tribunal sitting was decided on and was to be headed by Bishop Charles May, he added.

“The process that occurs with a tribunal is similar to a court process or a disciplinary hearing that would take place as with any other organisation. We had planned to sit until Thursday but he (the priest) pleaded guilty.

“He pleaded guilty in the sense that he engaged in a sexual relationship on numerous occasions with the member. What happens now is that a sentence will have to be prescribed.”

Pretoria News