Pastor raped children after ‘holy bathing’ rituals

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Birmingham Crown Court convicted Michael Oluronbi and Juliana Oluronbi of numerous charges

A church pastor repeatedly raped children after “holy baths” he claimed would ward off evil.

Michael Oluronbi targeted seven victims over 20 years, telling some they would fail exams or become a witch if his advances were refused.

Four girls became pregnant and his wife Juliana Oluronbi arranged abortions – with one girl estimating she had five or six during secondary school.

A Birmingham Crown Court jury convicted the couple of numerous charges.

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Self-styled prophet

Oluronbi, a self-styled prophet who also worked as a pharmacist, “had such a hold over the congregation that anything he said was taken as read”, said police.

One of the victims told the BBC the pastor’s actions had been “terrible” and “affected everyone’s lives”.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said those abused “fell under the benign influence and authority the defendants held, and honestly believed their actions were on God’s behalf”.

The abuse of one boy and six girls started when they were children – one as young as eight, and for some, continued in to adulthood.

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Media captionMichael Oluronbi said he “wasn’t meant to be human”

It began after Oluronbi, originally from Nigeria, set up a splinter group to the Cherubim and Seraphim Church at a private home in Birmingham.

“Spiritual baths” would take place in an upstairs bathroom, a pretext for sexual abuse ranging from indecent assault during “washing” to rapes afterwards, the court heard.

The children were often made to wear red sashes as he carried out the abuse.

Three of the four who became pregnant had multiple abortions, which police said often happened after Oluronbi booked them into clinics under false names.

The abuse went on for years until one victim came forward to police.

Oluronbi was arrested in May 2018 at Birmingham Airport as he tried to flee the UK.

‘An animal’

Police released a filmed confession in which he tells a victim’s relative “everything was my fault” and describes himself as “an animal”.

Oluronbi, aged 60, of Orchard Drive, Longbridge, Birmingham, was convicted of 15 rape charges, seven indecent assaults and two sexual assaults.

His wife, aged 58, of Walker Road, Walsall, was found guilty of three charges of aiding and abetting rape.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Red ceremonial robes were seized from Oluronbi’s house by police

The jury, which found Oluronbi not guilty of one rape and an attempted rape, could not reach a verdict on six charges.

The CPS announced on Tuesday it would not be seeking a retrial, meaning the Oluronbis’ crimes can now be reported.

Det Insp Dave Sproson, from the Public Protection Unit, said: “These were sickening crimes committed against children who had put their trust in Oluronbi and looked up to him.

“I hope his conviction offers some closure to the victims and I would like to thank them for their bravery throughout the trial.”

The Oluronbis will be sentenced at a later date.

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