A ‘feared’ evangelical pastor is facing jail after he used his trusted position to abuse children and adults in his congregation over 20 years, with help from his wife, London Mail reported yesterday.
Self-styled prophet Michael Oluronbi, originally from Nigeria, was found guilty of the offences against six women and a man, five of whom attended his church. In a confession videoed last year by a victim’s family member Oluronbi claims the devil made him commit his terrible crimes and described himself as ‘an animal’.
The offending happened at various locations, going back to the 1980s. Some of his offences were carried out after he convinced victims to take part in ‘spiritual bathing’, which he claimed would ‘cleanse’ them of evil spirits. He was convicted on Friday after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, and his offending can now be reported after restrictions were lifted.
The 60-year-old’s wife Juliana was convicted of three counts of aiding and abetting rape after helping arrange some of the terminations. The religious leader was brought to justice after one of his victims, now an adult, came forward.
Jurors heard that Oluronbi was linked to a Christian church in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the Cherubim and Seraphim Church whose roots were in Nigeria.
He set up on 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.
During the trial, a jury heard that some of Oluronbi’s young female victims became pregnant multiple times but were taken to abortion clinics by qualified pharmacist, to cover up what was happening.
Oluronbi was arrested at Birmingham Airport in May last year, 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.
In a confession videoed last year by a victim’s family member who had confronted him, the “feared” pastor is heard saying: “Everything was just my fault, and as I said before, I wasn’t meant to be human.
I wasn’t meant to live under the roof of any human being and I said that I was an animal.”
The footage was released by West Midlands Police after the trial. The victim’s relative is then heard, off-camera, asking the pastor: “You know I said that you are a paedophile?
Everyone knows that you’re a paedophile. You know that that’s the name they give to your type?” Oluronbi, who appears on camera in a formal shirt and tie speaking animatedly, raising his hands but with his eyes shut, then replies: “Fine.”
He also claims the devil made him carry out the abuse. Despite the recording, Oluronbi denied any wrongdoing during the trial, forcing his victims to give evidence against him during nine weeks of legal proceedings. He even laughed in the witness box while giving his own evidence.
He was convicted of 15 counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault.
Phil Bradley QC, prosecuting, told the jury: “The Crown’s case is that Mr Oluronbi used what he called ‘spiritual work” as a subterfuge for that sexual abuse.
The main tactic he employed was to claim that God had instructed him to administer ‘holy baths’ to some of his congregation in order to ‘cleanse’ them and protect them from evil influences.