Cape Town - The former Common Ground Church youth leader nicknamed the “Porn Pastor” this week ditched almost a year of plea bargain negotiations with the prosecution and decided to stand trial on the 47 charges against him.The dramatic about-turn came in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court, where the charges against the 27-year-old were placed on record for the first time.Although the prosecution had wanted him to plead on Wednesday, his defence secured yet another postponement on the basis that 12 new charges had been added to those in the plea bargain.Despite vehement opposition from the prosecution, the magistrate granted the extension and said the trial would begin on October 18, over two years since his arrest.The prosecution had expected the defence to conclude a plea bargain stipulating a sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment with five years suspended, which was acceptable to his alleged victims.
Sources said that after opening their bargaining with a proposed 20-year suspended sentence, the defence was prepared to accept a 10-year sentence suspended for five years. Then came the youth leader’s apparent instructions to fight the charges against him for a lesser sentence.The 47 charges relating to boys between the ages of 12 and 17 include: encouraging, enabling, instructing or persuading a child to perform a sexual act; compelled self-sexual assault; sexual grooming of children; using a child for child pornography; failure to immediately report a sexual offence against a child; exposing or displaying or causing the exposure or display of child pornography or pornography to a child; and possession of child pornography.The charge sheet indicated that in January 2015, the accused was appointed youth leader at the Common Ground Church Group in Rondebosch.“The accused was responsible for keeping a database of all the high schoolers and for updating all details regularly. The updates included contact details,” the charge sheet said.
“The accused electronically communicated with high schoolers - the complainants to whom he had access - by allegedly using a false identity and pretending to be a teenage girl.“The accused allegedly forwarded pornographic images of a fictitious teenage girl to the complainants to allegedly entice them to forward pornographic images of themselves to him. When the complainants resisted sending more images, the accused allegedly threatened to expose the child pornographic material to others and thereby allegedly used coercive methods with the complainants to compel them to continue forwarding him images of a pornographic nature.”At the time of his first court appearance in September 2017 it was alleged he had extorted pornographic images from over 60 boys. He was released on R1000 bail but was rearrested in February 2018 after allegedly re-offending.
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