The Dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology and Senior Pastor of the United Methodist Church in Gbarnga, Liberia Rev. Samuel Karyeah has been charged for raping a 14-year-old girl.
Rev. Karyeah had been facing allegations of having sexual intercourse with a teenager, who is a member of the church he presides over, but for some undisclosed reasons, he hadn’t been arraigned before the court.
He is being accused of allegedly raping the now 15-year-old girl on multiple occasions, from September 2019 through early 2020.
Whilst police investigations were ongoing, the 54-year-old accused was still serving in his official capacity for the Methodist Church in Gbarnga and he left for a retreat in Monrovia.
According to reports, after the Women and Children Protection Section (WACPS) concluded its investigation and charged the accused, their bosses in Monrovia reportedly hijacked the investigation and sent the WACPD Deputy, Dixon Jlateh to Gbarnga to take over the investigation.
The County Attorney for Bong County, Attorney Jonathan N. Flomo, is said to have frowned at the police for refusing to send the accused to court at the time when probable cause was established against Rev. Karyeah by WACPS in Gbarnga.
Just as in the case of many rape cases involving prominent persons in society who might want to swerve the law, it had to take the intervention of the Minister of Justice, Frank Musa Dean to get the police to send the accused to court.
Meanwhile, the police report noted that “medical reports and other pieces of evidence garnered during investigation proved that Rev Karyeah committed the crime.”
“There have been a lot of manipulations from the initial process but today we are grateful that the accused has been formally charged by the court,” Aaron Juakollie, the executive director of the Foundation of International Dignity (FIND), said welcoming the charge against Rev. Karyeah.
“Justice is underway,” he said. “We are hoping that he will be given a chance of due process because he is presumed innocent until found guilty.” Juakollie said that FIND will ensure that Rev. Karyeah is given a free, fair and impartial trail.
Gender Coordinator, Anita Rennie said the Gender Ministry’s local office and the Sexual Gender-Based Violence Taskforce in Bong will monitor proceedings in the case until it concludes. “We will follow up with them at the court and keep informing our central office,” Rennie said.
However, the alleged rape case against Rev Karyeah has taken a toll on the Gbarnga School of Theology and created a rift among his church members who are divided. While some are showing empathy for the accused, others are condemning him.
“We are doing our best to uncover how this relationship developed and will do everything in our power to keep this from taking place again,” a member of the church said.
A United Nations report said up to three quarters of women and girls have been raped with children under the age of five among those sexually attacked in Liberia.
Whereas rape was endemic during Liberia’s long civil war, many years since the end of the violence children still make up the bulk of the victims.