AN American church has claimed allegations its Scots pastor raped a child are part of a "hate crime" against the church fuelled by "anti-Christian" bias.
Aberdeen-born Malcolm John Fraser, 39, the assistant pastor at the Sound Doctrine Church in the city of Enumclaw, Washington, has been charged with two counts of first-degree rape of a child. He is alleged to have assaulted a 10-year-old girl more than 20 times between 2005 and 2006 while he and his wife were staying with her family.
The case, originally due to be heard in November, will now go ahead on January 16.
Officials at Sound Doctrine Church – which has also faced accusations of being a cult – has launched an astonishing attack on prosecutors and claimed the allegations have been made as part of a "hate crime against an entire church".
In an email to the Sunday Herald, church spokesman Timothy Williams said a prosecutor had referred to hearing of the church as a "cult ... on day one of Fraser's legal troubles".
Williams poured scorn on the paedophile allegations, adding: "Many experts have told us that if this were not a Christian church, the charges would have been dropped a long time ago.
"The facts are clear and the evidence proves what is happening is a hate crime, but the [local] Prosecutor's Office has employed every tactic to obstruct justice by keeping this truth out of focus. Personnel have been re-assigned, constant delays introduced and background manipulation used to pressure Malcolm Fraser into lying by opting for a plea bargain."
He added that tactics were being employed to make sure that Fraser does not get "a fair trial or even a fair process".
According to the court documents, Fraser was born in Aberdeen but grew up in Elgin and has been a US citizen for around three years.
The victim has alleged that Fraser visited her after midnight on more than 20 occasions and touched her in an inappropriate manner. He would also "cover her mouth so she would keep quiet and not yell."
He also allegedly threatened to hurt the victim or her mother and told her that if she told anyone she would "go to hell". Fraser denies the charges. His legal team have called for the case to be dismissed and accused the detective in charge of the investigation of having a "religious" bias towards the church, of suppressing material for a number of months and failing to record or disclose significant parts of the investigation.
But a response from prosecutors said the detective has complied with each subpoena in relation to the production of documents and that he used religious language in an effort to establish a rapport with the defendant's mother during email exchanges.
The latest delay in the case stemmed from a request by Fraser's legal counsel to have the computers of the Enumclaw Police Department examined for emails potentially relevant to the case, according to the local Prosecutor's Office.
Superior Court Judge Beth Andrus ruled that the request be acted upon by January 4 and set a new trial date of January 16.
Former IT worker and Aberdeen University graduate Fraser first appeared in court in April this year. Accusations of the Sound Doctrine Church being a cult were raised in court during a divorce case in 2009, in which a judge in North Carolina ruled a mother stop teaching her children at home and send them to public schools.
During the case, concerns were raised about the mother's involvement in the church, which is said to encourage followers not to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Her husband accused her of being in a cult, which she denied.