A former university lecturer who founded his own church and called himself “The Prophet” was found guilty of sexually molesting members of his own flock.

Walter Masocha (51), “Archbishop” of the Stirling-based Agape for All Nations Church, groped a young deaconess while he was supposed to be praying for her stomach complaint, and put his hand down the trousers of a schoolgirl saying he was trying to remove demons.

The deaconess, a 32-year-old mother-of-four, was also told that “The Prophet” had been “trying to remove ‘something’ from her genitals”.

The schoolgirl, aged 15, was left in tears after Masocha “pinged” her knicker-elastic and pinched her bottom claiming she had ants or demons in her pants.

Both were targeted between April 2012 and January 2014 at Masocha’s £500,000 seven-bedroom mansion, Coseyneuk House, near Stirling, where the Zimbabwe-born churchman received a steady stream of followers.

On Monday (27 April) after a six day trial, a jury of seven men and seven women at Falkirk Sheriff Court took less than 30 minutes to find Masocha guilty of sexually assaulting the deaconess and sexually touching the underage girl. The verdicts were by majority.

Masocha, in a hand-made suit with velvet collar, stood completely expressionless in the dock as the verdicts were announced.

On the public benches his wife Judith - styled The Prophetess within the church - appeared to dab her nose with a tissue.

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan ordered that Masocha’s name should be entered on the sex offenders’ register and deferred sentence, continuing bail, until 19 May for reports, to include an assessment of the risk Masocha poses to other women and girls.

During the trial, the schoolgirl, now 16, said she regarded Masocha as her “spiritual father”, and like many people in the church called him “dad”.

She said in late 2013 she was with four other girls in an upstairs games room when Masocha came in.

Giving evidence by video link she said she had been wearing “stretchy trousers”.

She said: “He waved me over. He placed his hand round my lower back, and moved his hand down until he got to my underwear, and he sort of pinged my underwear.

“He repeatedly pinged my underwear, ran his hand down my bottom, and grabbed and pinched my bottom.

The Stirlingshire secondary school pupil said she felt violated and later asked Masocha why he had done it. He replied that he had seen “demons and things that shouldn’t be there” in her pants and he was clearing them away.

She said: “I just broke into tears because I thought I had been doing things wrong without realising. I felt like I had been bad.” Mascocha said he would pray to remove the “demons” and left the room.

In another incident, when she was 13 or 14, she said Masocha had been sitting down at his home, very close to her, advising her about school when he suddenly said, “You’ll always be mine”, and kissed her on the lips.

She said at the time she was happy, because members of the church had been taught that anything they received from Masocha was a blessing from God, but now she felt disgusted.

The deaconess said Masocha had hugged her “very intimately”, caressing her back and kissing her round the neck, and saying “receive my love”. She said she could feel his manhood against her.

On another occasion said she had once gone to his office for prayer with a stomach complaint.

She said: “He said he was going to pray it away. He touched my tummy, then his hand went down my body, onto my private parts.” Weeping, she said: “It was like he was feeling me. I was so shocked. At that time I saw him as somebody who could never do any wrong, because that was what he used to teach us.

“He used to teach us his hugs were anointed.” She told her husband, a devoted member of the church, from whom she has since separated. He told her: “The Prophet is seeing something in your genitals that needs to be removed, so he was removing that.” The woman, a trained nurse, later fled her matrimonial home with her children, and spoke about what had happened to her brother, and others.

She said: “Suddenly, my eyes were opened.” She began an online blog to expose the activities of the church, which she called “a cult”.

In other incidents, she described how as part of her involvement with the church, she had to undergo an all-night “deliverance” after her husband told her she had to be delivered from demons, and shortly before she left the organisation for good, church members called an ambulance to a service she was attending in England and tried to get her sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Paramedics declined to act, concluding the call had been an “act of public humiliation”.

Mascoha denied the allegations.

Defence advocate John Scullion QC subjected the deaconess to five hours of cross-examination, claiming she was at the centre of a conspiracy to bring down Masocha and the church after he postponed publication of a church magazine that she had been working on.

After the verdicts, Mr Scullion said imprisonment was “not inevitable”, and said he would reserve his submissions in mitigation to the sentencing hearing.

Masocha was earlier found not guilty of two other charges, alleging that he engaged in sexually activity with another girl, then 13, by inducing her to massage his half-naked body with oils, after she retracted her claims. Allegations that he had acted in a similar way on various occasions towards her then 16-year-old sister had been dropped by the prosecution before the trial began.

Asked by a reporter if he had any comment to make on the verdicts, Masocha remained expressionless. His wife shook her head.

BACKGROUND The court heard the Agape For All Nations Church had grown up in less than eight years from a gathering in Dr Walter Masocha’s living room to an international organisation with branches and over 2000 members all over the UK, USA, Canada, and Africa.

Masocha told the court he had been combining his full-time job with a part-time role as a pastor in a Pentescostal-style church, the Forward With Faith international ministry, which met in a community centre.

Then in 2007, he went on a prayer retreat to St Andrews and after a week of fasting he had “a divine visitation” instructing him to set up his own church and call it Agape, Greek for God’s love.

It turned out to be a good move by the accountancy lecturer, whose financial abilities had already helped him forge a path from sub-Saharan Africa to a masters and a PhD at the University of Strathclyde and then a full-time lectureship at the University of Stirling - which he was soon able to give up in favour of full-time ministry.

Everyone’s called a “Saint” in the church of Agape - unless they happen to have been given a more elevated rank in a hierarchy based by Masocha on diplomatic language. Pastors are called envoys, elders are called attaches, and deacons are called stewards.

Masocha and his wife Judith use what prosecutor Alison Montgomery called “sacred terms”.

Masocha - described as an inspiring, motivational speaker - is called The Prophet, The Apostle, Man of God, and in another nod to diplomacy, High Commissioner.

Judith (49), a former insurance worker, is The Prophetess - a title she explained she derived by being “the wife of a Prophet”.

Both draw salaries from the church, funded by a “tithe” system in which members of the congregation contribute a tenth of their income to the organisation, an official registered charity. Masocha said he took home £40,000 a year - a net, after tax figure - and Judith £32,000.

Their air fares and accommodation as they jetted around the world “on God’s work”, until Masocha stepped back from his ministry because of the pending court case, were also paid for out of the contributions of his global flock.

The court heard that “offerings” are an important part of Agape’s doctrine, with up to 30 minutes in each service devoted to obtaining them, and it was quite usual for members to shell out “a couple of hundred pounds a month” to the church.

The woman who told the court Masocha had sexually assaulted her said the payments left her almost penniless and her children hungry. She said at one point she and her now-estranged husband - he is still an Agape member - handed over £600 in an envelope to the church, money they had saved towards a deposit on a house.

She called Agape “a cult”, and said she felt she had been “brainwashed”.

Soon, Walter and Judith Masocha were able to move from their modest former home in Bridge of Allan - where the numbers of people attending, chanting and crying “Alleluia” had once caused neighbours to complain to the council - to a seven-bedroomed, four-bathroomed, £500,000 mansion, Coseyneuk House at Sauchieburn, near Stirling, complete with its own massage parlour and set in an acre and a half of ground backed by security fencing, where much of Mascoha’s offending was said to have taken place.

Masocha was accused by Miss Montgomery, the depute fiscal, of acting like a celebrity, perspiring profusely through prayer meetings that could last three hours, and throwing the “sweaty towels” with which he mopped his brow to his followers who competed to collect them.

Miss Montgomery said he had “created an environment where the congregation treated him like a god”.

The court heard that some believed God to be present “for 20 metres around him”. Many wanted to be as close to The Prophet as possible.

The attention caused the Masochas to establish what Judith called “a special department” for security, known as EE. One of the members, law graduate Dr Amy Astante, explained she sometimes had to “body check” worshippers to keep them away from “the Man of God”. She described some of them as “pests”.

Miss Montgomery praised Masocha’s teenage victim, who has since left the church, for her courage.

The depute fiscal said: “She faced the potential wrath of the congregation by going public.”