Sex allegations against pastor divide church

The New Zealand Herald/April 30, 2005
By John Andrews

A Samoan congregation has split over support for a former pastor accused of sexually assaulting one of his parishioners.

Allegations against Pastor Oselise Falefata-Scanlan, who was suspended from his post at the Samoan Assembly of God church in Mt Wellington, have led to a renewed police investigation and a community rift.

Detective Constable Grant Tetzlaff, of the Glen Innes CIB, confirms he interviewed Mr Falefata-Scanlan about two months ago over allegations that he sexually assaulted a female parishioner between 1998 and 2002.

Mr Falefata-Scanlan’s former lawyer, Tua Saseve, said he had strongly denied criminal offending.

The Weekend Herald revealed in January that over two years after she first complained to police, the parishioner was still waiting for her case to be dealt with.

The report said the pastor had signed a letter in 2003 confessing to sexual sin with the woman.

Mr Saseve said yesterday that Mr Falefata-Scanlan had been placed under pressure to sign that document.

"He was given an ultimatum and was pressured into signing it and gave way to that."

After publication of the claims of police inaction, Mr Tetzlaff took up the case.

He said that since January it had been a time-consuming process and one that could not be rushed.

Mr Tetzlaff said he had no reason to doubt the female parishioner’s allegations.

"We are actively investigating this matter and identifying and speaking to any possible witnesses.

"A number of people have to be spoken to throughout New Zealand and outside about their knowledge of this matter."

He would like to hear from anyone with information about the case

Mr Tetzlaff said he was disappointed at the time the investigation had taken.

Mr Saseve said the Mt Wellington church had split between those who supported Mr Falefata-Scanlan and those who did not.

He said Mr Falefata-Scanlan’s two-year suspension from the church ended last month, but the church had not renewed his credentials as a pastor until other matters were sorted out.

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