Pastor jailed 34 years for raping members under the pretext of spiritual baths

Pastor jailed 34 years for raping members under the pretext of spiritual baths

A ‘feared’ evangelical Nigeria pastor, Michael Oluronbi, convicted for multiple counts of rape, has been jailed 34 years by the Birmingham Crown Court.

The 60-year-old pastor, originally from Nigeria and now living in Birmingham, was accused of raping members of his church for over 20 years.

The Dailymail, in a publication, said the victims, both males and females were abused at least 88 times in a spiritual bath exercise.

The ‘self-ordained’ man of God claimed the spiritual bath exercise would cleanse them (victims) of evil spirits.

The court found him guilty of offences against six women and a man in January 2020, actions described by the judge as “one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of multiple children to come before the courts.”

He was convicted of 15 counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault.

During the trial at Birmingham Crown Court, a jury heard that some of his young female victims became pregnant multiple times, but the pastor resorted to abortion clinics as a precautionary measure.

Commenting on the spiritual bath exercise, Judge Sarah Buckingham said the real purpose of the ‘spiritual baths’ was to “fulfil his insatiable sexual appetite”.

“You abused your position of trust.They trusted you like God and you did this because you are an arrogant, selfish and vain man,” the ‘livid’ judge said as she pronounced judgment.

In his defense, Mr Oluronbi said that the devil made him do it.

Another twist to the story is Mr Oluronbi’s wife, Juliana, was also slapped with 11 years for aiding and abetting rape.

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Mrs Juliana Oluronbi helped arrange some of the pregnancy terminations.

The sentence also requires that both husband and wife signs the sex offenders register for life.

In the UK, the sex offenders register contains the details of anyone convicted, cautioned or released from prison for a sexual offence since September 1997, when it was set up.

All convicted sex offenders must register with the police, in person, within three days of their conviction, or release from prison. They must continue this registration on an annual basis.

In statements read to the court by the prosecution, one of the victims said, the defendant’s actions made her ‘question if her life was worth living’.

Oluronbi’s victims had described him as ‘controlling’ and ‘almost like a king’.

Mr Oluronbi was linked to a Christian church in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church, whose roots were in Nigeria.

He supposedly set up his own splinter group for about 40 adults and children, separate to the church and located at another address, where he began a practice of ‘spiritual bathing’.

The offences took place in Birmingham and London.

The offending happened over a period of over 20 years, at various locations, going back to the 1980s.

Oluronbi was arrested at the Birmingham Airport in May 2018, while trying to leave the country for Nigeria with some of his ceremonial belongings and a sum of cash.

Police are unable to say whether he was trying to flee justice, but pointed out he had recently been confronted about the abuse by one of his victims.

For his victims, the ordeal has taken a ‘massive’ physical and mental toll, detectives said.

Describing Oluronbi as ‘intelligent’, Detective Superintendent Nick Walton of West Midlands Police said the pastor ‘laughed’ in court on several occasions while giving evidence in his own defence.

Mr Walton said Oluronbi had been working as a pastor until his arrest in May 2018.

Police also believe there could be more victims and have urged anyone with information to get in touch.