Samoa Today apologises to former C.C.C.S. Secretary General for sex allegations

A private newspaper, Samoa Today, that is no longer in operation has finally apologised publicly for defaming the former General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.), Reverend Dr. Afereti Uili. 

Rev. Uili had his role at the church stripped in 2015 following sex allegations against him published by the newspaper at the time.  

The “public apology for defaming you and your family” addressed to Rev. Uili of Toamua was written by Consultant for Samoa Today, Manu Sasafo Maugatai, and journalist, Kirstin Toimoana Ofisa. 

Published in the Sunday Samoan newspaper on 22nd November 2020, the public apology comes four years later after Rev. Uili cleared his name from sex allegations made against him. 

The apology from the Samoa Today referred to an article published on Friday 9th October 2015 on its front page titled “CCCS General Secretary is accused of money for sex scandal”. 

“The content of the article clearly attested that you sir: were involved in an extra marital sexual affair with a woman, were an adulterer, were paying a woman who is not your wife for sex, were a highly immoral person holding a high position in the church, were trying to keep your misbehavior secret and hence becoming a threat to the woman,” the apology said.

“The said woman has rightly confessed and admitted in Court that all allegations made against you were false and fabricated. 

“We therefore regret publishing a story based on false information in spite of our application of proper journalist standards in doing our work.”

The newspaper’s consultant added that there were no intention to defame Rev. Uili in the article. 

“We the undersigned, being privy also to this fact and regretful of the consequences through false information from the sources…”

Furthermore the newspaper says they retract and withdraw all allegations made in the article there being no truly whatsoever in any of them. 

It also apologises for their role and actions in publishing the defamatory material that have “caused irreparable damage to your reputation, your dignity and your livelihood”. 

“Our actions have brought shame and caused extreme harm and distress to your wife and children as well as to your families, your village and your church,” the statement from the newspaper says. 

“It is our sincerest hope that you will accept our humble apology.” 

 Rev. Uili was the Secretary General for C.C.C.S. in 2015 when the allegations published by Samoa Today surfaced. 

The claims made in a letter from a woman name Angeline Lesa and written by “others” led to Rev. Uili being stripped off all his roles in the church. 

The former Secretary General later filed lawsuit against the woman and the owner of the South Pacific Gladding and the Samoa Today newspaper, Tupuola Patrick Boon, for defamation. 

A Court Consent Order was issued in 2016 that cleared Rev. Uili stating that “none of the accusations in the letter regarding the plaintiff and which the defendant signed are true”. 

The order also noted that Rev. Uili agreed to withdraw a financial claim against Angeline Lesa stating that he is “satisfied with the confession made by the defendant that the accusations” are false. 

It was in 2017 that the C.C.C.S. reinstated Rev. Uili as a pastor of the church and presented monetary gift of $150,000. 

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