Hutt pastor on trial over underage abuse charges

The Dominion Post
August 17, 2015

Hutt Valley pastor Jone Conikeli has pleaded not guilty in Wellington District Court to charges of child sex abuse.

A pastor at a Fijian fellowship church indecently touched two girls and tried to get one to have sex with him, a Wellington jury has been told.

Jone Draiva Conikeli, 42, from Stokes Valley, was a pastor at the Kingdom Ambassador International Fellowship church's Wellington chapter.

He pleaded not guilty in Wellington District Court on Monday to two charges of assault with intent to commit sexual violation, two of doing an indecent act on a person under 16, and three of doing an indecent act on a child.

Crown prosecutor Ian Murray said Conikeli exploited opportunities to sexually abuse two girls he knew through family and friends.

Conikeli's lawyer, Chris Nicholls, said the two girls had colluded to make up the allegations as retribution over a complicated family situation for which Conikeli had been blamed.

One of the girls, who was 11 at the time, talked about him touching her while they were playing handball, feeling her breasts or touching her genitals in the night, sometimes waking her up.  She had been living with his family.

She also said he once watched her through the open bathroom window after she had washed.

He would wait outside the bathroom door, follow her to watch her getting changed, and tell her to take off her towel.

Once after he touched her, she said her genitals were red and sore and she wondered what he had done to her.

Murray said the second girl, who was 15 at the time, would tell the jury Conikeli came to her home when she was alone and tried to have sex with her, but he was unsuccessful because of her struggling.

During a visit to his home, he touched her breasts, touched her leg when they were in a car together and, during a second visit to his home, he dragged her into a toilet and tried to get her to perform a sex act.

The trial is expected to take four days.


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