By DANIEL HERATY
HEIGHTS – A local pastor was placed on a six-month leave of absence as of Oct. 1 amid allegations he molested several female church members when they were between the ages of 8 and 13.
According to reports, the Rev. Ioan Buia allegedly inappropriately touched several female members of his church, the Alleluia Romanian Pentecostal Church of God, 4470 Pardee.
As of press time, six women have come forward with allegations.
Letters sent by accusers from Michigan and Illinois described various instances where Buia allegedly hugged and stroked them in an inappropriate manner, including one which alleges he placed his hands under the bathing suit of an accuser.
Another accuser alleges Buia placed his hand on her thigh and rubbed it while driving to a convention in Arizona.
According to published reports, following the allegations, church officials met with two accusers at the Sheraton Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus, where an agreement was reached in August by the church’s governing body, the Church of God in Tennessee. The initial agreeof God in Tennessee. The initial agreement stipulates no charges or further allegations be brought against Buia in exchange for Buia’s acceptance of a year-long leave of absence.
A separate hearing in September comprising church members and held at the church’s headquarters ruled that while there was not enough evidence to find Buia responsible, he “conducted himself in an unbecoming manner toward the opposite sex.”
The board’s final ruling was for Buia, in addition to a six-month leave of absence and a letter of reprimand, to undergo six months of counseling.
Following the trial, a letter was sent to the International Church’s headquarters in Tennessee by an accuser’s family requesting another hearing because church board members presided over the first review. The request was denied Sept. 27.
In an email to Church of God Administrator Dennis McGuire in August, Buia denied the allegations and claimed he took the leave of absence to “preserve unity in the church.”
(Daniel Heraty can be reached at [email protected])