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Indonesia

Indonesian Protestant pastor accused of sexual abuse

Woman alleges abuse took place over 15 years and began when she was only 12

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Indonesian Protestant pastor accused of sexual abuse

Jeannie Latumahina, a women’s and children’s rights activist, shows a copy of a sexual abuse complaint made to police. The activist is offering advice and support to a 27-year-old woman who was allegedly sexually abused by a Protestant pastor for nearly 15 years. (Photo courtesy of Jeannie Latumahina)

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A Protestant pastor in Indonesia is facing charges after being accused of sexually abusing a follower for nearly 15 years.

The alleged abuse began while the victim was still a minor, an activist said.

East Java police have summoned the pastor, identified only as HL, for a second round of questioning on March 6 after a complaint was filed recently by a 27-year-old woman, identified only as IW.

HL, who serves at a church in the provincial capital Surabaya, was reportedly quizzed by police earlier this week.

Women’s and children’s rights activist Jeannie Latumahina, who is helping support the alleged victim, said the abuse came to light when her family asked her to ask the pastor to bless her wedding.

“She refused to do so. That was when she plucked up the courage to tell her family everything,” she told UCA News. “She experienced deep trauma. That is why she kept it a secret for so long. She is currently receiving counseling.” 

The activist refused to reveal what abuses were committed but said it began when the alleged victim was only 12 years old.

“[The complaint] is still under investigation. I can only talk about general information,” she said, adding that the alleged victim’s family are demanding that justice is served.

Rev. Gomar Gultom, chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said the alleged victim had shown courage in coming forward and that seeking justice was the right thing to do to send a message that such behavior was unacceptable. “I hope all this will not shake her faith,” he told UCA News. 

Rev. Jacklevyn Frits Manuputty, of the Protestant Church of Maluku, warned against trying to sweep the allegation under the carpet. 

“We cannot cover up such a case for the sake of a religious institution. A religious institution and all its servants must tell the truth and show fairness. This must be their priority,” he told UCA News.

Similar cases in the past were covered up, he said, without giving details.

“They were dealt with internally because they were seen as damaging to the religious institution,” he said. “I totally disagree with that. Any acts of sexual abuse must be prosecuted.”

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