A Kenyan pastor who was defrocked over allegations of infidelity in the United States claims he was a victim of blackmail and extortion.
The man of God at the centre of a sex scandal in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was pushed out after the details emerged on social media last week.
Speaking to the Nation on phone, Pastor Leakey Nyaberi claimed a lady who circulated a clip in which he’s heard asking for sexual favours was on a mission to destroy his career.
Pastor Nyaberi claimed the lady, who didn’t identify herself, violated Minnesota criminal law, which forbids blackmail and extortion. He alleged that she had purposely edited and concealed “a lot of issues” the two had discussed.
“In a 45-minute clip, she only edits it to two minutes and damages me forever. I hope to get time and listen to the recording, check with me on Monday. This is blackmail and extortion, which is illegal in Minnesota. She has also hidden her identity,” said Pastor Nyaberi.
The clip, whose contents cannot be published, was lurid and graphic. The lady sounded stunned by the pastor’s amorous manner.
The pastor did not, however, produce the longer clip. Asked why he had taken long to respond to the allegations, he said: “I was discussing with my lawyers before giving more information to the media. I read the story.”
He wasn’t amused with the coverage, saying: “You called my wife. Whoever gave you that number wanted to hurt her feelings further. She hasn’t spoken to me about it. She’s deleting every text and audio coming her way. You are a woman, you know how this hurts.”
Pastor Nyaberi was based at the United Central SDA Church in Brooklyn Park, Minneapolis.
In an October 11 letter to the president of the church, he stated: “Please accept this letter as a formal notice of my resignation as pastor of United Central and Mountain Experience SDA churches effective immediately.”
“After a period of deep prayer and consideration, I have decided to resign on personal grounds. I truly enjoyed working with our flock preaching and teaching the word of God.”
His communication triggered instantaneous reaction from Kenyan immigrants, with a number accusing church leaders of “hypocrisy and corruption in the eyes of God”.
In a letter to the church’s governing board, which was leaked to the Mwanyagetinge Community WhatsApp forum, the pastor asked for mercy. This is a group for Kisiis in the diaspora.
His fall from grace took many Kenyan immigrants by surprise, given the respect he commands in the community. Pastor Nyaberi has a PhD in theology and is married with young children.
Sex scandals involving church ministers in American churches have led to many of the spiritual leaders either going to prison or being forced out of office in shame.
US society has demonstrated zero tolerance for sex scandals, especially in the church. A Catholic bishop in Kansas City was forced to resign after it emerged that he did not crack the whip on errant priests who allegedly molested children serving as altar boys.
Several church leaders have faced trouble with the authorities after it emerged they abused their privileges as men of the cloth to sexually prey on vulnerable members of the church.
The situation has been compounded by the “Me Too” movement that is sweeping across many states in America. The movement was started by a survivor of sexual harassment and gained fame across the US as more victims came out. This led to the resignations of many powerful people, with others facing charges.