A Cape youth pastor has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to 47 counts of sex abuse charges. The pastor, Kent Locke, is a former youth leader at Common Ground Church in Rondebosch.

On Tuesday, October 29, Locke plead guilty to 47 charges of sexual abuse stemming from seven victims. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, with five years suspended. His name has also been added to the official register of sexual offenders. His name was announced to the public yesterday following his plea.

The charges come from seven victims aged between 12 and 17, and include 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.

The pastor was first arrested in 2017 following an investigation after a parent of a boy discovered a text exchange between the child and the youth leader. Immediately the parent alerted church leaders. Numerous electronic devices  belonging to Locke were taken in for investigation and were discovered to contain images of child pornography.

He was released on R1000 bail, but rearrested six months later on new charges of sexually grooming minors, according to Times Live.

His charge sheet reveals that the pastor impersonated a young girl to solicit pornographic images from the teenage boys. He gleaned contact details of the victims using a database of his high school congregants that he had access to, and contacted them via Instagram and Whatsapp.

“The accused electronically communicated with high schoolers – the complainants to whom he had access – by using a false identity and pretending to be a teenage girl,” reads the charge sheet. “The accused forwarded pornographic images of the fictitious teenage girl to the complainants to entice them to forward pornographic images of themselves to him.”

“When the complainants resisted sending more images, the accused threatened to expose the child pornographic material to others and thereby used coercive methods with the complainants to compel them to continue forwarding him images of a pornographic nature.”

According to the charge sheet, the victims sought advice from the pastor. “The complainants confided the sexual exploitation to the accused.”

This was not the first accusation made against Locke. Common Ground senior pastor Ryan TerMorshuizen told Times Live that in 2015, Locke was investigated for approaching a teenager that had injured his genital area and asked for an image of it.

“We immediately had him assessed by two therapists – one of whom we have on retainer – and we also asked for a report from an external forensic clinical psychologist‚” the senior pastor told Times Live. “All had given Locke a clean bill of health.”

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