3 Jan 2011

Black Jesus cult leader who boasts he had sex with over 400 girls as young as 8 convicted of rape

Sydney Morning Herald - AAP October 8, 2010

PNG's Black Jesus guilty of rape

Ilya Gridneff, Papua New Guinea Correspondent

Papua New Guinea's infamous "Black Jesus" cult leader has been found guilty of raping young "flower girls" who belonged to his sect.

PNG's Madang National Court on Wednesday found failed Lutheran pastor Steven Tari, known as Black Jesus, guilty of four counts of rape, with sentencing to come later this month.

Tari made international news when captured and arrested in March 2007 after eluding police for more than a year by moving from village to village or hiding in remote mountain camps in the Transgogol area of Madang province, on PNG's northeast coast.

Tari had thousands of village followers, including a core of armed warriors to protect him, in what is commonly referred to in PNG as a "cargo cult".

As part of his "culture ministry" Tari preached the young girls were to be "married" to him as it was God's prophecy.

At the time of his arrest, there were widespread allegations his cult also practised cannibalism and sacrificial blood rituals, but police only charged him for rape.

Judge David Cannings found Tari guilty of four counts of rape from the six charges relating to five women.

PNG's Post Courier newspaper reported Tari admitted to sexually penetrating the young women, but denied it was done without consent.

In 2008, Tari spoke to AAP from Madang's Boen prison, where the cult leader was in the maximum security wing on remand.

Tari defended his practice of sleeping with young girls who joined his cult.

"I got plenty, 430 (girls)," he told AAP at the time.

"What I did ... is under and in line with my religion. It was religious and was not wrong.

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The Independent - U.K. October 9, 2010

'Black Jesus' cult leader guilty of raping his flower-girl followers

By Kathy Marks, Asia-Pacific Correspondent

Steven Tari boasted that he had sex with more than 400 young "flower girls" who joined his notorious Papua New Guinea sect. Yesterday the self-styled "Black Jesus" was convicted of raping four of those girls, who had been told that he was their bridge to heaven.

Tari, 39, was arrested in 2007 amid claims he had performed sacrificial killings and feasted on the flesh of his victims. In the event, he was tried only for rape, but rumours of murder and cannibalism continue to dog him.

A Bible school drop-out who promised his followers eternal life and prosperity, he claimed that his beliefs entitled him to have sex with female recruits as young as eight, known as flower girls. In an interview in prison in 2008, he told Australian Associated Press: "I got plenty, 430 [girls]. What I did ... is under and in line with my religion. It was religious and not wrong."

In a country where superstition and sorcery remain powerful forces, Tari attracted thousands of devotees. Arrested in 2005, he absconded and went on the run, hiding in remote mountain villages, guarded by a loyal core of armed disciples. He was eventually captured by villagers, and carried out of the jungle on a bamboo stretcher, hands and feet bound, wearing only a loincloth.

Like much of Melanesia, nominally Christian Papua New Guinea is home to numerous sects and cults. Last year, the Post Courier newspaper reported that police were hunting a cult leader who was coercing followers to take part in public sex with promises of a bumper banana harvest.

The South Pacific's first native Anglican bishop, Sir George Ambo, was excommunicated after running off with a nun, Sister Cora, with whom he set up a visionary cult. Sir George, a Papua New Guinean whose grandfather was a cannibal, was forgiven by the church on his deathbed.

Tari's alleged behaviour was more sinister. Police investigated reports that one girl, Rita Herman, was offered to him by her mother, Barmarhal, who forced her to have sex with Tari and then stabbed her to death. Afterwards the pair allegedly collected her warm blood and drank it from a cup, before slicing flesh off her body and eating it. Barmarhal denied the allegations.

Tari, who preached that young girls were to be "married" to him because it was God's prophecy, was charged with raping five girls in the village of Gal, in Madang province. The court heard they all submitted because he said they would go to heaven. According to Tari, they were brought to him by their parents and relatives, which meant that their consent was given.

Tari studied to become a Lutheran minister at a Bible college in Madang, but quit after rejecting the Bible's teachings, leaving behind his clothes and possessions. Retreating to the mountains, he founded his personality cult, calling himself Son of Yali and claiming he had been sent by his father. Yali, who was unrelated to Tari, was a much revered cult leader in Madang.

During his reign, Tari – whose "spiritual assistant" was a Lutheran pastor who helped him evade police – closed down village churches and schools. Many homes, along with crops, were torched by his followers.

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  1. Cannibal killer known as Black Jesus breaks out of jail with FORTY EIGHT others after being accused of murdering three girls then drinking their blood

    By RICHARD SHEARS Daily Mail March 22, 2013

    A convicted rapist and cult leader known as Black Jesus, who was accused of murdering three girls and then eating their flesh and drinking their blood, has escaped from jail with 48 other prisoners.

    A huge manhunt is underway in Papua New Guinea's jungles for Stephen Tari and the other inmates, who broke out of prison in Madang in the north of the country while a guard changed shift.

    Police have warned that some of the escapees are very dangerous and stressed officers are working 'around the clock' to catch them.

    Tari, 40, a failed Bible class student, called himself Black Jesus as he travelled through the highland jungles in 2006, gathering thousands of disciples who moved with him, following his instructions to increase his 'flock'.

    But he was also accused of raping three young girls, murdering them and then drinking their blood and eating their flesh.

    Villagers eventually captured him in March 2007, beat him into unconsciousness, tied him up and handed him over to police.

    In 2010 he was convicted of four counts of rape but was not charged with murder due to lack of evidence, despite protests by the relatives of three dead girls.

    Now the enigmatic figure, who wore long white robes as he stood on a rock in a jungle clearing and preached his own gospel to his disciples, has sparked fears that he plans to look for new followers with his escape.

    'The guard left his tower,' PNG Correction Service’s spokesman Richard Mandui told Radio Australia today.

    'While the shift was taking place, the detainees used a tool to cut through a fence and they left for freedom.'

    'We’re working around the clock to find Stephen Tari and the other men,' said Madang’s Acting Provincial Police Commander Inspector Jacob Bando.

    During his days of freedom he gathered more than six thousand disciples by telling them they would recieve gifts from heaven if they followed him.

    But jungle communities were horrified to be told that Stephen Tari had sacrificed three young women, drinking their blood and eating their flesh as part of his bizarre religious ceremonies.

    In one case, a mother who had fallen under his influence, drank her daughter’s blood, according to relatives who the Daily Mail spoke to at the time. He gradually became a figure of fear.

    Tari was eventually captured in the small village of Matapi, a seven-hour walk from the nearest road.

    Church pastor Paul Makura said it had been difficult for police to catch Tari as he never stayed for long in one place and was always warned by his disciples when police were in the area.

    When he turned up in Matapi villa, frightened villagers pounced on him while he was sleeping in a hut and tied him up.

    Messages were passed through villages until one man with a mobile phone was able to get a call to police in the town of Madang.

    Heavily-armed officers found the badly-beaten Tari tied to a makeshift stretcher when they arrived in the village.

    There was no sign of Black Jesus’ bow-and-arrow bodyguards who on an earlier occasion when Tari escaped had engaged in a fight to the death with police.

    Now police are hoping that with the notorious Black Jesus on the run once again they will be able to recapture him before he gets another cult up and running


  2. Papua New Guinea: ‘Cannibal Cult Leader Black Jesus’ Hacked to Death by Villagers

    By HANNAH OSBORNE, Internation Business Times August 30, 2013

    A Papua New Guinea cult leader known as 'Black Jesus' has been hacked to death by villagers in the Madang province.

    Steven Tari was found dead after he escaped prison in March during a mass break-out with other convicts. He had been serving a 20-year sentence for raping four girls.

    According to AFP, Tari was widely known as a Lutheran pastor and ran a Christian-based sect. At his peak, he had thousands of village followers, including armed warriors who protected him.

    His followers became known as a 'cargo cult' in Papua New Guinea and he preached that young girls should be married to him, as it was God's prophecy.

    Tari, believed to be 42, was captured in 2007 and as well as the rape charges, he was accused of cannibalism. human sacrifice and blood rituals, but he was never charged with these crimes.

    Following his escape from prison, he was found by villagers attacking a young girl who he had "tricked into joining the cult", Madang police chief Sylvester Kalaut said.

    Strong warning

    He is also believed to have killed another girl a week earlier. The villagers reportedly surrounded him and one of his followers, who was also attacking the girl, and killed them.

    Kalaut told the PNG Post-Courier: "He is now dead and this could be the fate of the others who are also on the run from authorities and I am warning and strongly urging those escapees to surrender themselves to authorities."

    The practice of witchcraft is rife in Papua New Guinea. In April, two elderly women were tortured and beheaded for practicing sorcery, and in June another woman was publicly beheaded for being a witch.
    Last July, 29 people were arrested for being part of a cannibal cult for the murder of seven suspected witch doctors. The National newspaper said members had cut off penises of victims, and turned them into soup. They are also accused of eating their brains raw.

    "They don't think they've done anything wrong; they admit what they've done openly," Madang Police Commander Anthony Wagambie said.