Tayside and Central Scotland

Stirling church 'prophet' avoids jail over sex attacks

Walter Masocha Image copyright Central Scotland News
Image caption Walter Masocha was known by church members as "The Prophet", "The Apostle" and "Man of God"

A church founder and self-styled "prophet" has avoided jail after he was convicted of sexually molesting his parishioners.

Walter Masocha, archbishop of the Stirling-based Agape for All Nations Church, was sentenced to 250 hours of unpaid work and placed on the sex offenders register for a year.

The 51-year-old was convicted of groping a schoolgirl and a deaconess.

A sheriff told him he had "suffered a spectacular fall from grace".

Masocha was found guilty after a trial at Falkirk Sheriff Court of putting his hand down the trousers of a schoolgirl, telling her he was trying to remove demons, and groping a deaconess while he was meant to be praying for her stomach complaint.

Both women were targeted at Masocha's seven-bedroom mansion, Coseyneuk House, near Stirling, where the Zimbabwe-born churchman regularly received followers.

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan told Masocha that his conduct had left his victims "hurt and bewildered".

Image copyright Central Scotland News
Image caption The attacks took place at Coseyneuk House, Masocha's mansion near Stirling

He said: "You held a position of trust which you abused, and a further aggravating factor in relation to one of the victims is her relatively young age.

"Dealing with the question of harm, the complainers must have been left hurt and bewildered by your conduct, at the time it happened and thereafter."

However, Sheriff McGowan told Masocha that the law only required courts to impose prison sentences when there were no other options available.

He said: "There are many cases where the gravity of the offences are such that a custodial sentence is inevitable. Without in any way seeking to downplay the severity of the offences in this case, my view is that this is not the position here.

"The criminal justice social work report has assessed you as suitable for a community-based disposal, and in addition you have already suffered a spectacular fall from grace."

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