Pastor Masocha's sex convictions quashed by appeal judges
A church pastor who was convicted of sex abuse was a victim of a miscarriage of justice, appeal judges have ruled.
Scotland's senior judge, the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, said convictions against Walter Masocha would be quashed.
Masocha, 52, had earlier been told to carry out 250 hours unpaid work for sexually assaulting his parishioners.
The Crown said there had been alleged misdirection at his trial on a point over prior inconsistent statements.
When former university lecturer Masocha was sentenced at Falkirk Sheriff Court in June 2015, Sheriff Kenneth McGowan said he had suffered a "spectacular fall from grace".
Masocha had denied sexually assaulting a woman at the Church of Agape and engaging in sexual activity towards a schoolgirl at its base at Sauchieburn, Stirling.
He was accused of touching and kissing them and putting his hands on the buttocks of one and pinching them.
Church leader Masocha had his own office at the premises to which access was restricted.
During his trial one woman was cross-examined over emails she had sent which included statements such as: "You did nothing wrong to me" and "My Hero, my mentor, my rock."
Following the case, lawyers acting for the founder and spiritual leader of the church lodged a legal challenge against his conviction.
John Scullion QC argued before Lord Carloway, sitting with Lady Paton and Lord Drummond Young, at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh that a miscarriage of justice had occurred.
Five grounds of appeal were put forward on behalf of Masocha, principally focusing on alleged misdirection of the jury at his trial by the sheriff, but several were rejected.
Lord Carloway said that on one of the grounds the Crown accepted that there was a misdirection by a failure to direct on a point over prior inconsistent statements.
The senior judge said they were satisfied that a miscarriage of justice had occurred.