Jury finds Obwaka not guilty on CSC charges

by Angie Asam–Staff Writer

A 12-member jury found the Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka not guilty on two charges of criminal sexual conduct (CSC) Thursday evening.

After listening to testimony Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday and most of the day Thursday the jury was sent to the jury room to deliberate shortly before 4 p.m. At 5:30 p.m. the jurors knocked on the door to let the court officer know they had reached a verdict.

Fr. Sylvestre Obwaka and his attorneys stand as the verdict of not guilty is read.
Fr. Sylvestre Obwaka and his attorneys stand as the verdict of not guilty is read.

Once in place the Honorable Scott L. Pavlich reviewed the verdict form before handing it back to the floor person to read the verdict. The prosecution was seeking charges of CSC first degree causing personal injury and CSC third degree using force or coercion.

The alleged incident occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 1 and was reported to the Michigan State Police Feb. 17. The charges stemmed from a sexual encounter with a male victim, 28. Both Obwaka and the victim are Catholic priests.

While the prosecution attempted to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Obwaka was guilty of the crimes the defense’s case centered around consensual sex between the two men. Both men testified about sexual acts that occurred in the early morning hours of Feb. 1 in a guest bedroom at the St. Ignatius parish rectory in Rogers City.

The victim was visiting to celebrate a Mass and speak to the children of St. Ignatius Catholic School during Catholic Schools Week.

Obwaka was released from custody and all charges have been dropped.

More details on the trial will be posted here and appear in the next edition of the Presque Isle County Advance.

Attorney Dan White defended Fr. Sylvestre Obwaka in circuit court.
Attorney Dan White defended Fr. Sylvestre Obwaka in circuit court.

 

Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka testified on his own behalf on the last day of his trial. (Photo by Richard Lamb)
Rev. Sylvestre Obwaka testified on his own behalf on the last day of his trial. (Photo by Richard Lamb)