Former Gender Advisor to ex- President Ernest Bai Koroma, Naasu G.Fofanah, has narrated in a passionate letter as to how she was sexually abused by a known religious priest, Rev. Cornelius Mereweather-Thompson.
She started off the letter by saluting her alleged rapist, saying, “Dear Rev. Cornelius Mereweather-Thompson, it is with great courage that I write you this letter as part of my journey to close one of the most painful parts of my life. Over the past year, I tried to talk to you, but you did everything to evade our conversation/meeting. I can understand your behavior and fear of facing a very dark side of your life especially as “man of God” who should be living by the words and image of the Lord. But I am not sure how you expected that your deeds would never follow you one day.”
She narrated that “Rev. Thompson, as a young girl of 15 years old in Kenema, I happened to be a member of the Methodist Church where you were serving as the Reverend. I got confirmed by you and I can still remember that day. You were a charismatic leader, and everyone was in awe with you including me. You represented the symbol of trust and respect, but you compromised that fundamental image by abusing your status and having sex with one of the youngest member of your congregation. That member as you know was me. I did not know what to make of it, I certainly couldn’t resist you because you made it look alright and that it was okay.
It happened several times and I got pregnant. You didn’t know about the pregnancy because I didn’t know either until my mother noticed changes in me. I was beaten mercilessly and despite all the threats my mother made, I couldn’t name you because I would have only suffered more beating on the notion that it was my fault. I decided to suffer the consequences until my mother took me to a doctor to get an abortion.”
After going through the previous ordeal,Naasu explained that the priest had another sex with her during a visit at his Pademba Road residence.
“I remember coming to Freetown and I wanted to see you to explain my ordeal. I met you in the church residence along Pademba road and Christchurch. Before I could tell you, you again simply had sex with me. You barely finished with me when you heard your wife coming in. I was terrified, and I met her on the stairways, she was wearing a black dress with a blue jacket, tall dark with glasses.
I disappeared into the earth with a broken soul. Although, I couldn’t articulate what exactly you had done to me, but I was just shaken and found it difficult to attend church services unless for funerals or weddings. To date, 33 years later, I could still not belong to a church. I could not enter a Methodist Church today because the word Methodist reminds me of my ordeal with you. I have found it difficult to trust men, especially men in position of influence and trust; I have found it difficult to trust “Men of God” and I had already made declarations that in death no man should pray over my body. I dealt with this trauma for decades and never spoke about it,” she said.
Having groaning in silence for years,Naasu finally spilled the bean in 2016 but refused to name her abuser to the public.
“In 2016, when the Inter-Religious Council influenced the President not to sign the abortion bill and taking the moral high ground, the process triggered my anger and spoke out about my ordeal. I was under a lot of pressure to name you, but I thought I could deal with it, but I started getting nightmares about it. This was when I decided to find you and contacted you. All I wanted was to share the impact of your behavior on my life and I just wanted to ask you WHY? But, you decided to ignore my request until I told you, you and I know why I wanted us to meet and that I won’t contact you any again. This time you responded immediately.”
“I have decided to give you this background to remind you of my case. I am of the view that there were other girls, but I am speaking for myself. At this point, I just want you to know that my story and experience is one of strength and hope. I am sure you never imaged that poor vulnerable little girl would surface. I am free now and part of that freedom is to name you as I use my struggle to help others heal from sexual abuse.”
“Today, I feel very free today because my total silence is broken!!!!Thank you very much everyone who have supported me during these difficult times! I was powerless, but today I am powerful enough to name one of my perpetrators: Rev. Cornelius Mereweather- Thompson!”
But Rev.Thompson replied to the allegation through his Facebook wall,stating that “I have never raped anyone in my life, even in my youthful days. This allegation is totally untrue. Would anyone who has been raped continue to keep in touch with the perpetuator? How could someone who was raped continue to visit the person who raped her, even when she left her home to come to Freetown? How could someone who has been raped hugged and embraced her rapist when she saw him years after abroad? How could someone who was been raped communicated with the rapist in letter and even three years ago by Facebook without mentioning the allegations in all these meetings and contacts? To be accused 35 years after leaving by someone who was in London many years before now is a big blow to me.”