A trainee church minister was accused of peering through bathroom windows at girls, and making lewd jokes to them.
Cook Islands Christian Church has disclosed details of the allegations that led to the “termination” of the man’s studies at Takamoa Theological College.
The student was accused of inappropriate behaviour around girls, though the matter was handled internally and never referred to police.
Nga Mataio, the general secretary of Cook Islands Christian Church, said parents of girls who lived on the college compound had complained of the repeated inappropriate behaviour, including peeping and “making sexy jokes”.
The man’s actions were certainly uncalled for, Mataio said, and considered by the church management to be grossly inappropriate, bad behaviour, and not expected of mature college students.
“He was warned a few times to cease such actions.
“When the student did not cease his inappropriate behaviour after a couple of warnings by the Principal, he then brought the matter to the executive. The executive considered it necessary that the student be terminated from Takamoa.”
After some time outside of the college, Mataio said the student did improve himself by attending church at Nikao and getting counselling from some of their own ministers around the island.
His good behaviour was taken note of by the Nikao minister, he said. Officials from his own church made a presentation to the executive for a second chance for the student to come back to Takamoa to complete his studies.
“The executive agreed and he was meant to come back sometimes last year. But that was not to be after we were made aware of further inappropriate behaviour by him somewhere outside of the college.
“We were looking forward to seeing him come back to complete his time here, but we were naturally disappointed that the plan did not materialise.”
Despite this Mataio said the church management did not think the matter should have been referred to police for further investigation.
College Principal Reverend Tere Marsters, a former police officer himself, had agreed that it was unnecessary to “waste the time of the police when they should be concentrating on catching criminals,” Mataio said.
“Call the police for saying inappropriate things to girls? I reckon warning him is the more appropriate action to tak,” Mataio added.
“Actual sexual contact with the girls, assault? Yes, that would warrant police intervention. The student in question had not gone that far, thankfully.”
Mataio also said there were other students who had been terminated in the past for fighting, adultery, continuous insubordination and other breaches.
“Despite the odd issues it comes across such as the above, the Cook Islands Christian Church is proud of its history in terms of contributing to the evangelisation of those Pacific Islands that its ministers were sent to. The church is currently working on and looking forward to its bicentennial in October next year in Aitutaki.”