Media slammed over coverage of ex-pastor facing sex charges

A former President of the Methodist Church in Samoa, Reverend Aisoli Iuli, has criticised the local media over its coverage of the Court hearing of a former Methodist Church pastor facing sex charges.

Rev. Aisoli said footages of the Methodist church buildings at Faleula and Piula constantly used during media coverage of the hearing is unfair on the denomination.

He did not name any media organisation.

“The fact of the matter is that the church minister, who had since been stripped of his title, is facing criminal charges, not the church,” Rev. Aisoli said.

“Why is the church being implicated over this matter then?”

The former Methodist Church implicated is Tugia Tuliau. The 51-year-old, who pastored the Methodist Church at Satalo Falealili, is facing sex charges in relation to a young girl under 16 years of age.

The Supreme Court lifted an interim suppression order revealing his identity at the beginning of the week.

According Rev. Aisoli, the media should exercise caution in referencing the Methodist Church in its reports.

“The Church does not condone such actions; hence the swift decision to strip him of his role (in the Methodist church) but for the media to use the footages of our Church building in Faleula and Piula is not right.”

Reverend Aisoli, who has been a Church Minister for more than 40 years, said the Methodist Church cannot be blamed for an individual’s behaviour.

 “A man does not tell his son to go and steal, rob a bank or beat up people; but that does not stop the son from doing that. My point is this, his actions should implicate him as a person, not the church.

 “And showing photos of the church buildings is another example of the media sensationalising the issue.”

Rev. Aisoli added that the hammer should fall on the head of the nail.

 “I am not trying to tell the media how to do their job, but they need to consider the fact that this man’s actions is not that of the church and therefore, to post photos of our Church in Faleula is wrong.”

But senior journalist and a former President of the Journalists Association of (Western) Samoa, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, disagrees.

 “That is the reality of anyone facing criminal charges,” he said.

“The impact will be shared by the church as the allegations surfaced while he was the Church Minister for the Methodist church.

 “We are just doing our job and that is to inform our audiences with as much information as we can. These are the consequences of anyone facing criminal charges.”

Autagavaia said the role of the media is to inform the public.

 “Everyone is equal and we don’t discriminate. It does not matter who we are reporting about, as long as the reports are based on facts. We need to be mindful that the media are the eyes and ears of the public.”

Autagavaia added that Tuliau was implicated while he was a Minister of the Methodist Church. The church therefore cannot expect the media to separate the two identities, he said.

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