2 Jul 2002

Cook Islands pastor jailed for sex with underage girl

10:53 am on 2 July 2002

A former Cook Islands Christan Church pastor has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison, for having sex with a 14-year old girl.

The man, 45-year old Tapuni Awia, was convicted on three charges of having sexual intercourse with the girl.

The defence counsel, Tina Browne, say Awia's wife had said that her attitude towards him may have been a contributing factor.

Ms Brown says while Awia has been "refused" from the church, if he wasn't imprisoned, the church was willing to send him and his wife overseas to continue with church duties.

Chief Justice Greig says it was very clear that Awia had breached not only the trust of the girl but that of the church by his actions.