A church whose founder was cleared of sexual assault says it is preparing to take legal action after senior members were subjected to “false and malicious allegations”.
Rev Walter Masocha, pastor at Stirling-based Agape Ministries International, returned to work last week after being cleared of allegations made by two women.
A self-styled “prophet”, Masocha was found guilty in a separate case last year of sexually abusing two parishioners – one of them a schoolgirl – but later had his conviction quashed.
The church said more than a dozen members of its congregation have been victims of false allegations, leading to them being suspended or investigated by their employers or the police.
A spokesman said: “The church and a number of our members have suffered quite dreadfully due to a clearly orchestrated but malevolent campaign of false, malicious and unfounded claims and allegations which have been made.
“The church has already been cleared of any wrongdoing by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator following a full and forensic inquiry in which we were given a clean bill of health.
“We have now become aware that individual members have been subject to some untrue vitriolic allegations about their personal and their professional lives.”
Last year Scotland’s charity regulator cleared the church of allegations of financial impropriety, including a claim that Masocha used church funds to purchase his home.
A spokesman for the regulator said the church’s financial processes and procedures were found to be “comprehensive”.
The church said one of its members had already raised a court action and secured damages for defamation, although the money has not yet been paid.
The spokesman added: “It may be that further action is now deemed necessary to demonstrate the church is no longer willing to tolerate such outrageous and manufactured claims which have no basis in truth.
“Large amounts of time and resources have been used to carry out inquiries and our church members have seen their reputations sullied and their health suffer through stress and worry.
“The scale of the personal attacks and the orchestrated nature of this campaign against both the church and its members is breathtaking and can no longer be tolerated.
“As a result, we have little alternative but to explore the possibilities that the law has to offer.”
The church claims to “reach out through the love of God, and communicate the message of the Christian gospel and way of life to all people regardless of their age, racial, social, religious or sexual background”.