Even though Rev. James Sapato Fofana attributed his plea for mercy to his deteriorating poor health, old age, the risk of forfeiting his benefits and the obvious fact that he may not come out alive if sentenced, the reasons were not good enough for him to be pardoned by the no nonsense Hon. Justice John Bosco Allieu, who presided over the matter.
The Judge was however appreciative of the fact that the Man of God did not waist the precious time of the Court by tendering a plea of guilty to all the counts, instead of to have allowing a protracted trial. The Presiding Judge wondered why a Clergy man should develop an unfading appetite in having sex with children as young as below 14 years.
Rev. James Sapato Fofana is a 60 year old Clergy in charge of the Kambia District Branch of the United Methodist Church where he engaged himself in sexual Penetration with a 13 year old girl.
According to the particular of offence as explained in Court by the State Counsel –Mr. Yusuf S. Koroma, the incident occurred on Monday 22nd December 2015 at SLMB Lane back of the Kambia Town Field in Kambia.
He was also charged with the offence of Sexual Touching and Cruelty to Children and Young Persons contrary to Section 4 of the Protection of Children and Young Persons Act Cap 36 of the Laws of Sierra Leone.
The Court was amazed when another charge of Sexual Touching and Penetration was read against the same Man of God. This time it was a 10 year old Girl. But unlike the previous one that has to do with the 13 year old girl, Rev. Fofana tendered a plea of not guilty on the second matter, adding that it was a mere plot set against him by some ill meaning people in the Community.
Hon. Justice John Bosco Allieu cautioned and discharged the Accused on Count 3 which has to do with Cruelty to Children and young persons. But his kindness was short-lived when he perused on the other counts. The Judge saw the Accused as one that has brought a huge embarrassment to his Mission, Congregation and a serious disgrace to his Family and entire Community.
He said even though he would not wish the Accused to die in jail, but it would be equally unfair for him to go unpunished for such serious offences. Hon. Justice Allieu therefore sentenced the Accused to 10 years imprisonment for each of the 2 Counts while the other matter for which the Man of God has pleaded not guilty, was adjourned to the next Session.
This is just one of the series of Matters the Judge was able to conclude at the end of the June Session of the High Court in Port Loko. I intend to bring you more of those matters in my subsequent reports.