A self-styled pastor who raped church members, including children after “holy baths” has been jailed for 34 years in the UK.
60-year-old Michael Oluronbi repeatedly raped his church-goers, including six girls and a boy over a period of 20 years, asking them to partake in the “spiritual baths.”
Oluronbi, who has been based in the UK but originally from Nigeria, claimed those baths would cleanse them of evil spirits. His wife Juliana Oluronbi, who helped him abort the pregnancies of some of his victims, was also jailed for 11 years.
After a trial in January, the two were found guilty by jurors at Birmingham Crown Court.
At the trial, the jury was told that Oluronbi was linked to a Christian church in Birmingham, but he later formed a splinter group for about 40 adults and children located in a makeshift church at his Birmingham home.
There, he had the victims take part in “spiritual bathing,” and this dated back to the 1980s.
Phil Bradley QC, prosecuting, said: “The main tactic he employed was to claim that God had instructed him to administer ‘holy baths’ to some of his congregation in order to ‘cleanse’ them and protect them from evil influences.
“That activity began when his victims were children.
“There can be no doubt that its real purpose was to serve his sexual gratification.”
Bradley told the court that some of the victims were raped repeatedly, leading to “unwanted pregnancies and terminations.”
He said Oluronbi was “revered and feared by his victims, kept a vice-like grip on many of them and continued to abuse them well into adulthood.”
Some of the victims would be “taken upstairs to the bathroom, stripped naked, sometimes wearing a red girdle – like a sash – and he would wash them down.
“On occasion he would sexually assault them, but also take them to an adjacent bedroom and subject them to sexual assaults and rape,” detective superintendent Nick Walton from West Midlands Police said.
“Some of his victims described it as a cult.
“He has been confronted on occasions by relatives and parents. He never made admissions, and even blamed the devil for it on some occasions,” Walton added.
But his abuse finally ended when one of his victims confronted him recently and another alerted the police.
Oluronbi was arrested at Birmingham Airport last May while trying to leave the country for Nigeria.
He told the police “the devil made me do it” after his arrest.
Sentencing him last Friday, Judge Sarah Buckingham said: “You claimed that God was instructing you to conduct holy baths.
“Its real purpose was to fulfill your insatiable sexual appetite.
“The children feared you and this enable you to continue your grip.
“You abused your position of trust – they trusted you like God.
“In my judgement, your offending must be one of the worst cases of sexual abuse of multiple children to come before the courts.”
Oluronbi was convicted of 15 counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and two counts of sexual assault.