An Icelandic televangelist has stepped down as head of his church in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual abuse.
Gunnar Þorsteinsson, head of a Pentacostal church known as The Cross, has always been a controversial figure in a country not known for his particular brand of Christianity. Recently, several women have come forward alleging that Gunnar had sexually abused them.
Five women in all have levied allegations against the pastor, two of them sisters of his ex-wife. Speaking on the news discussion show Kastljósið, they allege that Gunnar began to abuse them when they were 14 years old, and that it continued into their adulthood.
Gunnar has denied the charges against him, saying that he has always been good to the sisters, and that they have never complained to him of being done any wrong.
Church officials met over the weekend to discuss the matter, and yesterday, Gunnar posted an announcement on the homepage of his church’s website:
“Despite the support I received [after the meeting], I have taken the decision to step aside as pastor, at least temporarily, until this passes. … I ask you to show me understanding and tolerance.”
No word has yet come out with regards to any legal or civil action Gunnar could be facing.