Church accused of hiding allegations of sex abuse

By Chris Barton

The Assemblies of God church hierarchy is under fire for covering up allegations of sexual abuse involving one of its senior pastors.

The allegations relate to Pastor Wayne Hughes, head of the Takapuna church.

A longtime member of the Takapuna Assembly of God told the Herald he brought information about the abuse to the attention of church general superintendent Ken Harrison in October. Nothing was done.

"I've fulfilled my obligation to God by not sweeping it under the carpet. God doesn't want this stuff going on in His church. He wants it exposed. I'm sure He's not pleased with those who found out about it and didn't do anything about it," said the church member.

Asked about a cover-up, Mr Harrison said: "No comment."

Concerns have also been raised by Nasir Ali, who was married in a Muslim ceremony in 1992 to Wayne Hughes' daughter.

His concerns stem from allegations that Mr Hughes sexually abused a teenager. Both the pastor and the victim have acknowledged some form of abuse occurred.

"I rang him [Hughes] and told him, 'How could he stand there at church and preach to people when he had been guilty of that?' And that he had to resign - that it was just completely hypocritical," said Mr Ali.

The member of the Takapuna church, who spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity, said he wanted the church to suspend Wayne Hughes while it conducted a full investigation.

When he accidentally stumbled on the information, he believed God was testing him. "God was putting me on the spot saying, 'Who do you serve and who do you follow?' I prayed for the courage to do something about it, I knew it was wrong."

Mr Ali said he tried to discuss the sexual abuse claims in September with two pastors at the Takapuna church but was asked to leave the premises. His lawyer was subsequently contacted by another lawyer and Mr Ali was told to stop making the claims.

"I want them to know that within their midst they have somebody with this history of sexual abuse," Mr Ali said.

Mr Hughes did not return Herald calls.

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