Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Accuser backs church sex inquiry

David Ock-Youn Jang.
David Ock-Youn Jang.

The woman at the centre of a sexual misconduct complaint against a Korean Presbyterian pastor is standing by her claims and is backing a church investigation which found him guilty after a criminal court cleared him of any wrongdoing.

David Ock-Youn Jang, a senior pastor of the Korean Presbyterian Church of Auckland, stood trial in 2007 on four counts of indecent assault, five counts of rape and one count of assault with intent to commit sexual violation, but was found not guilty on all charges.

However, the church's complaints hearing committee conducted its own investigation and upheld a number of charges of sexual impropriety and physical, verbal and emotional abuse, and deposed Mr Jang as a minister of the church.

"What I have spoken is the truth, but I have been labelled mentally unstable, a prostitute, a demon and all sorts of other names by some church members who don't know anything about the matter," said the complainant.

"I seriously thought of taking my life, especially after I struggle to understand why no charges were upheld at the criminal trial.

"I was continually harassed and threatened after that trial by church members.

"I am so grateful that the church believed in me and took up the case again, and I think it actually saved my life."

The complainant cannot be identified for legal reasons.

The woman also felt that the presbytery "did the right thing" in distributing a summary of the committee decision to the congregation.

"It feels like my wounds are being re-opened again, but I think the people need to know."

The document outlined the nature of the complaint.

But Mr Jang denies any indecent conduct and the parish is laying a complaint to the national body about the presbytery's investigation process.

The complainant said the Presbyterian Church had also provided her with legal representation and a support person to help her with her healing process.

When asked what she hoped would be the final outcome of this saga, the complainant said all she wanted was an apology from Mr Jang. "I just want him to say sorry, if not to me at least an apology to the congregation for all the hurt that he has caused the church."

But Mr Jang is claiming that he is being made a victim by the church, and has told his congregation he will continue to lead church services.

Northern Presbytery clerk Alex Robinson said the congregation could be dissolved if they and the pastor continued their defiance.

"Our preference was and is for this church to continue as a Presbyterian church," Mr Robinson said.

"If this offer is rejected, the Northern Presbytery would consider these options: dissolve the congregation if it no longer fulfils the functions and obligations identified in the book of order.

"If they declare they are no longer part of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand, they would each need to resign their membership," said Mr Robinson.

- NZ Herald

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