Liberia: 54-Year-Old United Methodist Pastor Charged with Statutory Rape in Gbarnga
Gbarnga, Bong County – Police in Gbarnga Wednesday, April 1, sent to court the Dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology and Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church in Gbarnga, Rev. Samuel Karyeah, who had earlier been investigated and charged with statutory rape.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
The charge stems from allegations that Rev. Karyeah had sexual intercourse with a teenager in September 2019. The teenager is a member of the church. At that time of the incident, the survivor, according to the police, was 14. She is now 15.
The investigation by the Women and Children Protection Section (WACPD) in Bong County began two weeks ago but was delayed due to some investigative issues that the police had to resolve.
FrontPageAfrica gathered that while police was still investigating the accused, he was signed-for by some hierarchy of the Methodist Church in Gbarnga. He unceremoniously left for Monrovia a week ago, where he claimed to have gone for treatment.
It was also reported that after the WACPD concluded its investigation and charged the accused, their bosses in Monrovia reportedly hijacked the investigation and sent the WACPD Deputy, Dixon Jlateh to Gbarnga to take over the investigation.
The County Attorney for Bong County, Attorney Jonathan N. Flomo, is said to have frowned at the police for refusing to send the accused to court at the time when probable cause was established against Rev. Karyeah by WACPS in Gbarnga.
It is reported that the Minister of Justice himself, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean had to get involved before the police reluctantly brought the accused to court.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Foundation of International Dignity (FIND) welcomed the charge against Rev. Karyeah, who added that justice is underway.
“There have been a lot of manipulations from the initial process but today we are grateful that the accused has been formally charged by the court,” he said.
Continuing, he added: “We are hoping that he will be given a chance of due process because he is presumed innocent until found guilty.”
Juakollie said that FIND will ensure that Rev. Karyeah is given a free, fair and impartial trail.
Church in disarray, members divided
The alleged rape scandal against Rev Karyeah has caused a big crisis among his church members as some were on Wednesday showing empathy for the accused pastor while other were bashing at the clergyman.
When our reporter visited the church compound Wednesday it was obvious that the crisis has taken a toll on the compound of the Gbarnga School of Theology.
At the police station Wednesday, there was clear evidence of disunity and divided loyalty among members.
A member of the church, who preferred to remain anonymous, told FrontPage Africa that the church is working to learn how this happened.
“We are doing our best to uncover how this relationship developed and will do everything in our power to keep this from taking place again,” a member of the church said.