JW elder jailed for sex crimes
JEHOVAH WITNESS Church elder Mark Sewell, 53, has been jailed for this week 14 years for using his position to prey on young women in his congregation in Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, including his niece.
Merthyr Crown Court heard how he sexually abused two young girls and raped a women after overpowering her.
Sewell was found guilty of eight sex offences, including one of rape.
The jury had heard Sewell was a trusted and respected member of the Jehovah’s Witness Church, who used his role to “exploit and abuse” members of his 120-strong congregation.
He raped one woman, leaving her pregnant, but she later miscarried.
He also abused two young girls – one was just 12 when he kissed her and started giving her massages.
His victims were banned from “gossiping” about the attacks by other church elders.
One victim told the court:
I just felt totally crushed. It was as if he had this power over everyone and no-one could see the real him except for me.
Sewell was cleared of the complaints by a Jehovah’s Witness judicial committee after the women reported his behaviour to the church.
But a jury at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court found him guilty of a string of attacks between 1987 and 1995.
Sentencing him to 14 years, Judge Richard Twomlow, said:
Your victims felt inhibited about what they could say because of your position as an elder. You caused distress in the lives of your victims who had the feeling they were disbelieved. You have shown not a thread of remorse.
All Jehovah’s Witness congregation are registered charities and the Charity Commission is investigating the case.
One of Sewell’s victim, according to JW Survey, has bravely stepped forward and waived her anonymity by giving a series of media interviews.
Karen Morgan, the perpetrator’s niece, recounted how, tragically, her congregation did nothing, simply because Sewell refused to confess.
Those group of elders who sat me as a child in front of a guy who’d been abusing me for years, and expected me to talk about it in front of him, and hear him calling me a liar … I think that probably has had the most effect on the rest of my life, because what Mark did to me I’ve had to try to deal with, but I’ve also had to try and deal with how the whole thing was handled … and I want answers for that.
I blame them for what continued to happen to me because no-one dealt with it.
Hat tip: Angela K