The man who received sexual services from a 15-year-old is leader of an Auckland church. (File photo)
The leader of an Auckland Pentecostal church has admitted using a 15-year-old as a prostitute in Northland.
Michael Cornelis Weitenberg, a 55-year-old from Mairangi Bay, was charged in relation to the Northland underage sex trafficking case.
He appeared in Kaikohe District Court on Tuesday afternoon through audio-visual link.
Through lawyer Karl Trotter, Weitenberg admitted one charge of receiving commercial sexual services from a 15-year-old in Paihia earlier this year.
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He was remanded on bail, with the date and location of his sentencing to be determined.
Weitenberg is the founder and pastor of Futurecaster Church, a small Pentecostal church based on Auckland’s North Shore.
The church’s website, which has recently been deleted, described him as a prophet and senior elder.
“Contemporary apostolic-prophet on a journey. He has worked for more than 21 years, in over 30 nations as a proven prophet,” the website said.
Weitenberg’s ex-wife, Kirsty Swan, said it was a shock for her and their two children to hear of the charge.
“As far as I know, Mike had no criminal past or charges, he’s been a pastor of a church for the past 35 years or so,” she said.
“Over the past five years or so he has spent weeks and weeks up in Paihia on his own staying in motels under the guise of ‘studying the bible’ for his newly earned doctorate.”
CONDEMNATION FROM NORTHLANDERS
Weitenberg’s actions have been condemned by Northlanders, including Kaikohe pastor Mike Shaw from organisation Stop Demand, which works to reduce the demand that drives the global sex trade.
“Our kids need our love and protection, not degradation and violation,” Shaw said.
“Each guilty man in this case needs to feel the anger of our community – and the full weight of the law.”
Shaw called on all men in the community to stop this sort of thing from happening.
“The men in our community need to step up and self-monitor our behaviours towards women and children to ensure this kind activity is exposed and eradicated from our community.”
Two other men in the Northland sex trafficking case have also admitted using a 15-year-old as a prostitute.
Meanwhile, a 35-year-old man has denied 20 charges, while a 37-year-old has denied two charges.