Jehovah’s Witness elder guilty of sex abuse: Now charity watchdog launches investigation

Jul 7, 2014

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.

‘There were 12 elders and not one of them stood up – not one’: Victim of Jehovah’s Witness rapist describes torment

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.

11 comments on “Jehovah’s Witness elder guilty of sex abuse: Now charity watchdog launches investigation

  • I am extremely sorry for the victims of this situation.. I am on the other hand glad that this religion is getting some
    media attention. They’re practices in regards to sex offenders and also shunning are at best archaic and at worst criminal. In the congregation I attended before leaving there was a convicted sex offender that was an active member.. When my husband and I shockingly discovered him on the watchdog registry in our area, and brought it to the attention of our elders, we were told that God had forgiven him, so why couldn’t we? At this point he was giving gifts to our children and other peoples children, and also going door to door in our community on a regular basis. No
    one else in our congregation, families with small children included, were aware of who this man was. I doubt this is malicious on the part of this religion but it is clearly irresponsible to allow sex offenders to be members of the congregation without informing families.

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  • 3
    Miserablegit says:

    Jehovah’s witless have obviously decided to take from the catholic play book. Firstly claim that god has forgiven him and then refuse to do anything about the accusations against him. I would expect that when he is sent down, there will be a pressing need for a serious investigation into the witless’ practice and see who was actively helping a paedophile evade arrest.

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  • Sickening, but, par for the course.

    The mother of an acquaintance of mine is a Jehovah’s Witness, so he knows the ropes, and if ever they knock on his door he invites them in for a cup of tea and, by Socratic means, systematically demolishes their arguments.

    But, it’s probably only like a circuit breaker being over loaded and tripping for a short while.

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  • Miserablegit

    Jehovah’s witless have obviously decided to take from the catholic play book. Firstly claim that god has forgiven him and then refuse to do anything about the accusations against him.

    It’s a long standing religious tradition, for some raping, pillaging, murderous, robber-baron, or war-lord, to call in some associate bishop or priest, make death-bed confessions, and then make substantial donations of the “ill-gotten-gains”, to fund the building of a church or cathedral, in exchange for hero-status, forgiveness, and a get-out-of-Hell-free card!

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  • Alan4discussion.

    What you speak of are covered by the euphemism Indulgences.

    It’s how the dosh was raised to build St Peter’s in Rome; that, and the normal emotional blackmail employed to squeeze money out of those who can least afford to part with it, the poor.

    I prefer the Mafia; at least they’re honest villains.

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  • 10
    Bob Springsteen says:

    Mr Watchtower has been sent down for 14 years. Hopefully, he will cut his wrists and then refuse a blood transfusion.

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  • 11
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Jehovah’s Witlesses have a problem with physicians sticking hypodermic needles in their children’s arm in order to save their lives but apparently, they have no problem with one of their Elders sticking his puny needle in children’s privates and damaging them for life in the process.

    And of course, it’s up to God to forgive the harm done to the offended and not up to the offended themselves. Such good Christians. How merciful is that right?

    Fortunately, unlike the RCC, these “people of the good book” don’t have a City-State in which to take refuge from legal action.

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