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Time To Act Is Now To Prevent Future Sexual Offending By Those In Positions Of Authority

Suva High Court Judge Salesi Temo spoke out clearly on the seriousness of sexual offences like rape. When he sentenced Pastor Jone Rabuno Cokanauto yesterday to 20 years imprisonment with
28 Jun 2017 14:39
Time To Act Is Now To Prevent Future Sexual Offending By Those In Positions Of Authority
Jone Cokanauto outside the High Court in Suva after his sentencing on June 27, 2017. Photo: Vilimoni Vaganalau

Suva High Court Judge Salesi Temo spoke out clearly on the seriousness of sexual offences like rape.

When he sentenced Pastor Jone Rabuno Cokanauto yesterday to 20 years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 19 years in prison, he said the sentence was to punish the pastor “in a manner that is just in all circumstances.”

He said it was also designed to protect the community “from people like you.”

He also warned religious leaders who distorted the teaching of the holy books to advance their evil sexual desires.

“The court will come down hard on you. The sentence is also to signify that the court and the community denounce what you did to the four complainants from 2005 to 2012.”

Pastor Cokanauto clearly used his position of influence to prey on young female members of his church, the Jezreel Lion of Judah Ministry. At the height of his offending he was correctly described by Justice Temo as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

What is concerning is that he is not the first man of the cloth that has been convicted for sexual offences. Justice Temo has issued a warning to all religious leaders that the courts will come down heavy on sexual offenders.

Pastor Cokanauto has breached the trust he has been given and manipulated the victims by taking advantage of their vulnerability.

People like him must pay for their crime to act as a deterrent and discourage  would be offenders from even thinking about committing these despicable sexual crimes.

In discussing this issue we sometimes forget about the permanent scars that are inflicted upon the victims. They would have to live with this physical and emotional trauma for the rest of their lives.

The complainants must be commended for having the courage to expose the sexual crimes despite the threats from Pastor Cokanauto.

Those who have been victims of sexual abuse must speak out so we can spread the message that sexual offences  cannot be condoned.

The message must go out that offenders will not get away with it.

Everyone should heed the warning by Justice Temo that offenders will be severely punished.

While it has been suggested before, we say it again that it is time that all stakeholders must get together and work out ways on how we can prevent these sexual crimes from happening again.

We should get over the cultural sensitivities and openly talk about this issue. Faith groups, for example, should have systems in place to prevent those in authority from abusing their positions of influence.

The time to act is now.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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