Leader of Jezreel Lion of Judah Jone Cokanauto has been sentenced to 20 years imprisonment by High Court Judge Justice Salesi Temo.
Justice Temo has also set a non-parole period of 19 years.
While sentencing Cokanauto, Justice Temo said to Cokanauto “you are a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.
Justice Temo said that Cokanauto was 38-years-old when he founded the prayer group in Taveuni.
He organized prayer groups and prayed for the sick and others.
The presiding judge said that the ministry was based on Christian principles however the group was not registered.
Justice Temo said that Cokanauto later managed to convince the complainants to join his web of deceit.
He said that Cokanauto was 43-years-old when he committed the first offence.
Justice Temo said that this is a serious breach of trust.
He said that in the Itaukei community, Christianity is the prominent religion where moral values are gained and followed.
Justice Temo told Cokanauto “you as the head of the prayer group did the unthinkable, you twisted the story of the Samaria woman, you twisted the meaning of the holy water as your semen, you taught your followers that they had to be purified and that they had to have sex with you, you have committed offences against your own followers”.
Justice Temo said that Cokanauto’s ministry is in existence for 17 years where he planned his offences, he enticed the complainants to his group and then he sexually molested them.
The judge said that Cokanauto also told them that they will die if they tell anyone about him.
He said that Cokanauto violated their trust and cunningly used the bible to fulfill his evil deeds.
Justice Temo said that the sentence is designed to punish Cokanauto in a just manner and to protect people from him.
He said that the 20 year prison sentence is also a warning to religious leaders who will try to distort the bible teachings.
Cokanauto was convicted of five counts of rape, four counts of indecent assault and one count of attempted rape.
He raped and indecently assaulted a group of female followers who were his prayer warriors in Nasinu and Taveuni between 2005 and 2012.
Cokanauto is now on his way to the Naboro Corrections Facility.
Meanwhile his lawyer Simione Valenitabua has confirmed that they will appeal the conviction and sentence.Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.