By Ciaran Jones
The charity watchdog has launched a probe into a congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses where a church elder sexually abused women and children.
Paedophile Mark Sewell, 53, faces a “very substantial” prison term when he is sentenced tomorrow after being found guilty of eight historic sex offences.
The disgraced businessman and former Butlins holiday camp driver was found guilty of indecently assaulting two young girls who were fellow worshippers in the Barry congregation in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He was also convicted of raping a fellow churchgoer in an attack which “shredded” her knickers and left her pregnant.
We revealed on Sunday how the Jehovah’s Witnesses destroyed records showing the allegations in the early 1990s.
In a series of previously unreportable court hearings ahead of Sewell’s three-week trial it was heard how the Jehovah’s Witnesses had been uncooperative with detectives investigating the case and said the organisation no longer retained any evidence on the abuse claims.
All congregations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses are registered charities.
Today a spokesman for the Charity Commission told WalesOnline: “We have opened an operational compliance case into the charity and cannot comment further while the case is live.”
The announcement follows the regulator launching separate but linked statutory inquiries into the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain and also a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in Manchester.
The commission revealed last month it had opened an inquiry into the society – the over-arching body behind the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the UK – to examine its handling of safeguarding matters, whether trustees had fulfilled their legal obligations and also the safeguarding advice provided to congregations.