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 ‘Prophet’ convicted of two sex offenses claimsGod told him to start ministry

Walter Masocha, aZimbabwean-born preacher, claims the Lord spoke to him through a “cloud” thatappeared at the Balcomie Links Hotel in Scotland. Masocha described his visionof God at the hotel in an “exclusive interview” for a DVD produced by hischurch, Agape Ministries, which tookin more than 3.3 million pounds sterling during the past 4 years. In April of2015, Masocha was convicted of several sex offenses, which took place betweenJanuary 2012 and January 2014. The convictions included “sexually assaulting a32-year-old deaconess of the church” and “kissing and caressing a 14-year-oldgirl at the church’s base.” Two other charges involving sexual behavior toward minorsdid not result in guilty verdicts. (NehandaRadio, 9/29/15) [IT 7.1 2016]

‘Prophet’convicted of two sex offenses claims God told him to start ministry

Walter Masocha, a Zimbabwean-born preacher, claims the Lordspoke to him through a “cloud” that appeared at the Balcomie Links Hotel inScotland. Masocha described his vision of God at the hotel in an “exclusiveinterview” for a DVD produced by his church, Agape Ministries, which took in more than 3.3 million poundssterling during the past 4 years. In April of 2015, Masocha was convicted ofseveral sex offenses, which took place between January 2012 and January 2014.The convictions included “sexually assaulting a 32-year-old deaconess of thechurch” and “kissing and caressing a 14-year-old girl at the church’s base.”Two other charges involving sexual behavior toward minors did not result inguilty verdicts. (Nehanda Radio,4/29/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

After years of legal battle, a court has placed the financial empire of fugitive doomsday cultist Rocco Leo in the hands of receivers. District Court Judge David Lovell has appointed insolvency firm BRI Ferrier as liquidators of Agape Ministries’ properties, including its former compound at Kuitpo. The ruling ends the 4-year Agape saga and ensures that the Australian Taxation Office and disabled former Agape worshipper Sylvia Melchiorre will receive all they are owed by Leo.

Agape was to sell its properties to pay those debts but failed to do so. In June, Judge Lovell gave the cult one final chance to settle its own affairs but, despite a series of auctions, the properties failed to sell. (The Australian, 9/4/14) [IT 6.1 2015]

John Mouhalos, who in 2010 broke his 2-year bond for aggravated assault and firearms charges, in April became the first member of Rocco Leo’s now dissolved Agape Ministries’ doomsday cult to be taken into custody. Leo and the rest of his inner circle fled to Fiji, refusing to return to Adelaide to face criminal charges and civil law suits. The Australian taxation office stripped Agape of its tax-exempt status as a religion and demanded $4 million in back taxes. (Australian, 4/15/13) [IT 4.2 2013] 

The Australian Taxation Office says it will increase its civil claims against fugitive Agape Ministries leader Rocco Leo, who has allegedly failed to pay $1.7 million in income tax for 2010. According to the same court documents, his associate, Joseph Veneziano, owes $700,000 and Agape Ministries itself owes $1.6 million. Defendants’ lawyers say they want to meet with the tax office to determine whether the Ministry is a religious institution and whether it must pay taxes. (ABC News, 6/5/12) [IT 3.2 2012] 
Agape Ministries leader Rocco Leo and Adelaide, Australia businessman Martin Penny have withdrawn lawsuits against one another. Penny’s suit claimed Leo’s tales of poisoned microchips, government beheadings, and South Pacific island refuges duped him into donating $876,000 to the ministry. Another former Leo follower is still seeking $420,000 from him, and the Australian Taxation Office, having stripped the cult of its tax-exempt status, wants $4.5 million from Agape. (Advertiser, 5/7/12) [IT 3.1 2012] 
Rino Leo, who with his brother Rocco leads the controversial Agape Ministries, in South Australia, says Jesus told their father, Biagio, that he had “appointed” his sons, that they would be like Moses and Aaron, and that “signs and wonders will follow them anywhere they go.” Former Agape members say that, while the church was at first a wonderful place, it began to feature right-wing conspiracy videos and to implement strict behavioral rules. Rocco closed the church in early January and is said to be in Fiji or Vanuatu—fleeing debts—where it is said he wanted to take the congregation. Police investigating other premises linked to the church have found firearms, ammunition, detonators and explosive fuses. [IT 1.2 2010] 
Adelaide (Australia) District Court has frozen the assets of Agape Ministries while two former members pursue claims that they gave money to the religious group—$400,000 in one case and more than $1million in the other—on the basis of false promises. They say Agape, led by Rocco Leo, promised them a haven on a South Pacific island where they would be protected from being implanted by the government with microchips; they were told that they’d go to hell if they were microchipped, and that if they refused the procedure, they’d be put in concentration camps and gassed or beheaded. Agape allegedly said the money would be used to help relocate all of the members to the island, and to build infrastructure there. [IT 1.2 2010]

A Tarant County, TX, jury has found Agape Christian Fellowship minister Terry Hornbuckle guilty of sexually assaulting three women, two of them church members, one of whom testified that she was a virgin when he drugged and raped her just after her 21st birthday. Hornbuckle apparently used the drug benzodiazepine to induce drowsiness and amnesia in the women. One said she didn’t want to have sex with the minister, who was counseling her after a split with her boyfriend, but added that he exploited her emotional vulnerability and his position of authority. Hornbuckle, an alleged “meth addict,” had his bail revoked when he failed drug tests while in custody. [csr 5.3 2006 ]

The board of Agape Christian Fellowship has fired church founder Terry Hornbuckle following his conviction on charges that he raped three women, two of them former congregants. Hornbuckle, whose wife is being evaluated as his successor, is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. A church statement said its bylaws prohibit a person convicted of a sex offence from serving in an official capacity. [csr 5.3 2006]

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