By ZEDAIAH KANAU
A SEVENTH-day Adventist (SDA) pastor has been jailed 15 years for sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl on at least four occasions, including raping her near the church building in Kairuku, Central.
Justice Panuel Mogish, in the Bomana National Court yesterday, sentenced Seifthen Jaomo, 56, from Tirokave village in Eastern Highlands, saying that “the victim was entitled to expect the offender to act as a true man of God”.
Justice Mogish said: “This is a case where there was a very serious breach of trust and dependency.
“The offence was committed next to a church building, a place of worship. That was also the place where the offender, a layman who preached the Gospel to the masses, held a special position of trust for his worshippers and anyone on the premises of the church.
“For three years the offender persistently violated that very special relationship with the victim, a most vulnerable member of his congregation near the church building.
“While he preached the gospel in one hand, his conduct was sinful.
“He has brought shame to the many good pastors who have committed their lives to bringing worshipers to know God.”
Justice Mogish said the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors but since Jaomo had pleaded guilty, he would use his discretion to be lenient in sentencing.
“It takes courage for a man to plead guilty,” he said.
“Many remandees languish in jail for a long time because they are too scared to own up to their wrongs.”
Justice Mogish suspended three years of the sentence and replaced it with a three-year good behaviour bond and deducted 10 months for time spent in custody.
Jaomo will serve 11 years and two months at Bomana prison.
The offences occurred between Jan 1, 2017 and Jan 31, 2020.
By ZEDAIAH KANAU