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Woman believed she was redeemed

Aqela Susu
Friday, June 16, 2017

"DON'T look at me as your uncle, look at me as a man of God. Don't be ashamed of me."

These were the words allegedly uttered by leader of the Jezreel Lion of Judah church, Jone Cokanauto, while spiritually redeeming one of the complainants in an alleged rape case against him.

The complainant was the second to take the witness stand as the trial went into its third day before Justice Salesi Temo at the High Court in Suva yesterday.

In her evidence, the complainant said she heard from other youth members that the youths from her area would be delivered by Mr Cokanauto so after the service that evening, they were summoned to Mr Cokanauto's bedroom.

She said when she opened the door, she saw two women praying and the accused sitting on the bed wearing a "sulu" and a vest.

She claimed the accused then called her to sit beside him so he could redeem her. The complainant alleged Mr Cokanauto told her that he was going to do it by touching her private parts so she could be sexually aroused.

The complainant said she did everything he told her at that time because she believed she was being redeemed.

She alleged the accused touched her private parts during the redeeming process. She claimed the accused kept telling her not to look at him as her uncle, but as a man of God.

Furthermore, she told the court that Mr Cokanauto also told her not to be ashamed of him.

She also alleged that Mr Cokanauto then suggested that they have sexual intercourse instead to redeem herself.

She said everything that happened during the redeeming process was deemed sacred and they were not to tell anyone because they had sexual intercourse with their pastor.

The complainant said in court that the process was a taboo in the ministry and it stayed with them individually.

She said at that time she saw Mr Cokanauto as a man of God and respected him a lot.

She said this was not the case anymore.

She told the court that after she left the ministry in 2006, she could not come to terms with what Mr Cokanauto was alleged to have been doing.

The complainant said this was because pastors were supposed to be holy and do not sleep with members of their congregation.

These offences were allegedly committed between 2005 and 2012 in Taveuni, Suva and Nasinu.

The trial continues today.

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