Pastor in abuse case opts to retire

By Chris Barton

Wayne Hughes, the Takapuna Assembly of God pastor at the centre of sexual abuse allegations, is taking early retirement.

In a letter to the Takapuna church board Mr Hughes cited personal reasons - the need to care for his wife who suffers from Parkinson's disease and the stress caused by the publicity on his family and his own "health and emotional and spiritual wellbeing". He was also concerned about the effect on the church.

"The recent publicity that has erupted is hurting the church family. This is not good for the Takapuna Church nor the Assemblies of God in New Zealand - both of which I love.

"For these reasons I have personally decided to bring forward my retirement and step back from my current pastoral responsibilities, effective immediately."

Mr Hughes blames Nasir Ali for first raising the sexual abuse claims 10 years ago. Mr Ali, who served one year of a three-year term for burglary in the early 90s, was briefly married to Mr Hughes' daughter Angela in a Muslim ceremony.

The abuse of a teenager occurred 20 years ago but the victim has not laid a complaint with the police. Both Mr Hughes and the victim have acknowledged some form of abuse occurred.

Assemblies of God general superintendent Ken Harrison said Mr Hughes' decision would not affect the church's investigation into the matter. "I cannot say any more at this time, as our investigations are continuing, as it would for any one of our credential holders, whether they are pastoring in a church or not," he said.

He said it should be noted that the movement had been investigating the claim since last November and there had never been a cover up.

"Bearing in mind the need for the movement to observe the principles of natural justice in that investigation, it would be inappropriate to provide further detailed comment until such time as all the relevant and admissible evidence has been collected and considered."

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