AN assistant pastor convicted of raping one of his congregation has won a retrial.
The District Court in Brisbane last year convicted the man, who cannot legally be identified, of one count of rape for forcing his 27-year-old girlfriend to perform oral sex on him.
The court heard the assistant pastor had become jealous of her previous sexual experience and had “crossed her boundaries” by forcing her to perform fellatio on him and touching her genitals. However, Queensland’s Court of Appeal today found the judge hearing the matter had failed to correctly address the jury on prosecution claims the man had lied to police.
Justice Cate Holmes said the judge had not complied with a legal precedent which required any lies asserted by prosecutors to be precisely identified. The prosecution had claimed the assistant pastor’s assertion he could not remember several crucial details of the events amounted to “an avoidance in telling the truth”. During his police interview, the defendant claimed he believed the sex act to be consensual but under questioning failed to recall several crucial details of the encounter.
However, Justice Holmes said there could be other explanations for his apparent inability to remember details, including that the interview took place 18 months after the alleged events. She also said cultural or religious reasons may have contributed to his hesitation in answering questions, noting that the Papua New Guinea national had expressed embarrassment at being interviewed by two women from the outset.
“Those considerations ought to have been brought to the jury’s attention,” she said. In a unanimous decision, the court set aside the pastor’s conviction and ordered a retrial.