Fiji Pastor Convicted Of Multiple Counts Of Rape, Indecent Assault

Cokanauto used biblical and spiritual manipulation to commit sexual acts on victims

By Aqela Susu

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 27, 2017) – A Church pastor has been convicted by the High Court in Suva after being told he deceived and falsely misrepresented sexual acts committed on his victims as acts of redemption, when in fact he was raping, attempting to rape them and indecently assaulting them.

Jezreel Lion of Judah ministry leader, Jone Cokanauto, was found guilty and convicted of five counts of rape, one count of attempted rape and four counts of indecent assault by Justice Salesi Temo after a two-week trial yesterday.

In his judgment, Justice Temo said he accepted the prosecution's witnesses as credible, forthright and not evasive.

He said this was the opposite for the defence witnesses.

"I find that on most occasions, the complainants consented to the various sexual acts performed on them by the accused, at the material times; however, I find that the accused falsely misrepresented the sexual acts to the complainants in his sermons and biblical teachings, to the extent that he was in fact deceiving them as to the true nature of the acts," Justice Temo said.

"I find that the accused had misinterpreted Saint John Gospel Chapter four verse 1 to 42 and the other teachings of the Bible to enable him to corrupt young girls."

He said he accepted the evidence provided by Dr Donal McAlrath of the Pacific Regional Seminary (PRS) that the biblical story of the Samaritan woman was basically about a woman, who was evangelised and became a Christian and had nothing to do with sexuality.

Cokanauto committed these acts between 2005 and 2012 on four different complainants at various prayer sessions at Welagi Village on Taveuni and Nadera, Nasinu.

He said after his analysis of the evidence, he found that the so-called consent to the sexual acts by the complainants were not real consent by law.

"And, I find as a matter of fact that, all complainants did not consent to the sexual act done by the accused, on all counts. I also find, as a matter of fact that at the times he was performing the sexual acts, he knew or couldn't careless whether or not they were consenting to the sexual acts."

Cokanauto was yesterday ordered to withdraw a statement he made in court during plea and mitigation submission.

Justice Temo had asked the 55-year-old if he would like to add anything else as mitigation when he replied with both his hands folded, "I am not guilty of this case. I leave it to you to decide".

In response, Justice Temo told Cokanauto the law had given him powers to punish him and he should not tell the trial judge he was not guilty.

Meanwhile, in his sentencing submissions, State lawyer Meli Vosawale asked the court to impose a 23-year jail term on Cokanauto. He asked Cokanauto be considered as a serial rapist and a sex offender because he has been committing the acts on the four complainants from 2005 to 2012.

Defence lawyer, Simione Valenitabua only asked for a concurrent sentence instead.

Cokanauto has been remanded in custody. Justice Temo will deliver his sentence at 11.30am today.

Fiji Times Online.
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