Parents praise cops as justice is served on ‘Porn Pastor’

Cape Town – The parents of the seven boys sexually abused by Kent Locke applauded the justice system for jailing the former Common Ground Church youth leader nicknamed the “Porn Pastor”. He was sentenced to 10 years.

“As parents, we were deeply impressed with the SAPS and its specialist units who were determined to see justice done,” said a spokesperson who cannot be named as this would identify a minor victim.

Their sentiments were echoed by Common Ground Church pastor Ryan TerMorshuizen, who showed no compassion for his former colleague, who turned 29 last week after nearly two years behind bars as an awaiting- trial prisoner.

“We are grateful that justice has been done, particularly given the low levels of convictions in sexual offence-related cases in our country.

“We applaud the SAPS and the prosecuting authority for their professionalism in handling this case. Above all, our prayers are with the victims and their families. We will continue to support them however we can.”

This week, Locke pleaded guilty in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court to 47 sex abuse charges listed in a 43-page plea bargain he eventually signed after almost a year of playing legal poker with sexual offences prosecutors.

He was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, with five years suspended, for offences against the seven victims, who were between the ages of 12 and 17.

The charges included encouraging, enabling, instructing or persuading a child to perform a sexual act, compelled self-sexual assault, sexual grooming of children, using a child for child pornography, failure to immediately report a sexual offence against a child, exposing or displaying or causing the exposure or display of child pornography or pornography to a child, and possession of child pornography.

Locke tried to negotiate a lesser sentence with the tacit threat that a trial would subject his victims to secondary trauma, said a source close to his defence.

He felt a lesser sentence was justified as Locke “did not touch anybody”.

But Locke was bluffing, said the source, as he had no money to fund a trial and did not have the emotional stamina for a lengthy trial.

In his plea bargain, Locke said he had pleaded guilty because he was remorseful and this “minimised the potential trauma” a trial would have on victims and their families, and he had engaged in psychotherapy at his own cost.

Yet, behind the scenes before he was sentenced, he refused a request by the victims to address him in court on the emotional trauma he caused them.

“The families of some of the victims wanted to address Locke to share the emotional impact of his abuse coming from someone they trusted,” said a source privy to the request.

“They wanted to tell him how he abused that trust, and the long-term effects that was having on them and would have in the future.”

Wynberg sexual offences prosecutor advocate Jarrod Seethal praised the “army of warriors” who had brought Locke to book, singling out the investigative work of Warrant Officer Rowan Andrews from the provincial Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit. “Crimes such as these, involving highly sophisticated and skilled criminal endeavours, are often difficult to detect and even more challenging to prosecute.

“If it were not for the brave survivors seeking truth in the face of fear, if it were not for the skilled and thorough investigative work of the investigating officer, if it were not for the dedication and perseverance of our team of prosecutors, justice would never have knocked on the door of Mr Locke,” Seethal said.

Weekend Argus

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