A pastor accused of forcing a parishioner to have sex with him during a “prayer of deliverance” has been found not guilty by the ACT Supreme Court, despite the judge ruling the offences had been “proven beyond a reasonable doubt”.
- Alofa Masina, 54, was found not guilty of one count of rape and three counts of acts of indecency
- Justice David Mossop found the offences had happened, but not on the dates claimed by the woman, which left him with no other choice but to find Mr Masina not guilty
- Mr Masina had denied the allegations in his police interview
Today Justice David Mossop found the offences had happened, but not within the date range on the indictment, which left him with no other choice but to find Alofa Masina not guilty.
Mr Masina, 54, was charged with one count of rape and three counts of acts of indecency.
The woman said Mr Masina had come to her house to conduct the prayer in February 2018 when the offences were said to have occurred.
Prosecutor Skye Jerome told the court the woman had told police she only agreed to the sexual acts because she genuinely believed she would be cursed if she did not comply.
Later, when confronted by a male friend of the woman, Mr Masina said he was not going to say whether she was right or wrong, saying instead it was “between [him] and the holy spirit”.
Ms Jerome said it was a telling response.
Mr Masina denied the allegations in his police interview.
Alibi for the time the offences were alleged to have happened
Three other women gave evidence about similar experiences with Mr Masina.
One of the woman recounted a conversation in which he had made sexually suggestive comments to her.
Ms Jerome told the court Mr Masina said if the woman told anyone, she would not get her blessing; she would be cursed instead.
While the women were not able to say specifically when things had happened, there was no evidence of collusion and their evidence was still strong, Ms Jerome said.
“They were all resolute in their answers that what they said happened,” she said.
But Mr Masina’s lawyer, Gregor Urbas, told the court his client had an alibi for the time the offences were alleged to have happened, because he was in Sydney moving house.
The woman did admit she had “muddled” the dates.
Dr Urbas said no alternative date seemed to be possible, and produced a long list of other inconsistencies in the woman’s account.
These included that the woman had not noticed an obvious tattoo on his arm, that she could not describe his clothing at the time, and that she gave differing accounts of the sexual acts.
Job for the Crown to prove alleged events happened
Dr Urbas also invoked the case of Cardinal George Pell, pointing out it was not for Mr Masina to prove the events did not happen; it was for the Crown to prove they did.
In the end, Justice Mossop found each of the offences had been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
And he found Mr Masina had used his position in the church to get access to the women, to fraudulently misrepresent the “prayer of deliverance” as involving sex acts, for his own sexual gratification.
But the indictment had listed February 2, 2018 and, he said, the evidence suggested the offences could not have happened on or around that date, so he had to find Mr Masina not guilty.