Lincoln Tan

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

Church is victimising me - pastor

Minister cleared of rape in criminal trial says it's unfair Presbyterian officers will not accept court's verdict.

Korean pastor David Jang. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Korean pastor David Jang. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A Korean pastor deposed from his ministerial position after allegations of sexual misconduct says he is being victimised by the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand after being acquitted in an earlier criminal trial.

David Ock-Youn Jang was struck off as a minister last Friday after the church complaints committee found him guilty of sexual misconduct and abuse against a single complainant.

He stood trial at the Auckland District Court in 2007 on four counts of indecent assault, five counts of rape and one count of assault with intent to commit sexual violation.

His defence was a denial of any indecent conduct or sexual intercourse, and he was acquitted on all charges.

The church is defending its decision to conduct its own investigation using a judicial procedure that was similar to a court process.

A suppression order had earlier prevented any reference to the criminal trial, but Mr Jang applied for the order to be lifted last week so he could "tell the whole story".

"It seems unfair that the church keeps referring to the guilty finding of its own investigation but not the one where I was acquitted," said Mr Jang. "The complaint is the same, and it seems unfair that the church would not accept the official judgment of the criminal court."

The name and identity of the complainant have been permanently suppressed.

In a document distributed to Mr Jang's West Auckland congregation last Sunday, the church said the pastor was found guilty by the church after its investigation of the sexual misconduct allegations.

"We will speak to our lawyers to see if they have broken any laws by distributing that in our church," Mr Jang said. "I do not accept the finding of the church investigation and will be appealing, but I feel they are continuing to victimise me."

Northern Presbytery clerk Alex Robinson said the church started its investigation after it received a complaint of sexual misconduct but suspended it until the court and appeals processes were completed.

"The church has its own rigorous process for considering and addressing such complaints.

"The church has responsibilities to conduct itself in an open and transparent manner and the congregation had a right to know why the decision to depose Mr Jang was taken and why the decision was not taken lightly."

Congregation spokesman Nathan Jang, the pastor's son, said the parish would be laying a complaint with the national Presbyterian body on the conduct of its Northern Presbytery church officers.

- NZ Herald

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