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Minister at ‘freaky’ Yorkshire church guilty of sexual assaults

Minister at ‘freaky’ Yorkshire church guilty of sexual assaults

Pastor John Wilson, 70, who sexually abused six vulnerable women has been warned by a judge that he faces ‘a very substantial’ prison sentence.

According to this report, Wilson carried out a series of indecent assaults “on God’s orders” to  rid his victims of evil spirits.

The sexual abuse took place over more than two decades while Wilson served at the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Keighley.

Following a trial lasting more than a month Wilson, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, was found guilty this week on more than a dozen charges of indecent assault and further allegations of sexual assault and conspiracy to commit indecent assault after the jury deliberated for about 15 hours.

The abuse was said to have taken place between the mid-1980s and 2010 with victims, who cannot be identified, being assaulted during one-to-one “deliverance sessions”.

At the start of the trial in July prosecutor David McGonigal told the jury that the case involved sexual abuse:

In the name of religion. John Wilson was purporting to rid the women of evil spirits by sexually touching them. It is the prosecution’s argument that he was doing for his own sexual gratification.

They were taken under the wing of Mr Wilson and he would blame the abuse on evil spirits inside of them. These were vulnerable women.

Wilson’s wife Mary, 79, was also convicted on two charges of aiding and abetting him to commit indecent assault while his assistant Laurence Peterson, 59, of Eric Street, Keighley, was found guilty on similar aid and abet charges and further allegations of conspiring with Wilson to commit indecent assault.

At the end of the prosecution case Judge David Hatton QC directed the jury to find Wilson not guilty of rape and sexual abuse charges in relation to a seventh complainant.

The woman, who along with the other six complainants cannot be identified for legal reasons, had claimed that she had “a flashback” of herself lying on the floor like a rag doll with Pastor Wilson moving on top of her.

She alleged that the rape took place at his home, but also described the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Keighley as “a freaky church”.

After hearing legal submissions Judge Hatton concluded that Wilson could not be properly or safely convicted on her evidence.

The judge remanded Wilson into custody to await his sentence on September 28. His wife, who has mobility problems and other medical issues, and Peterson, were both granted conditional bail to the same date for the preparation of reports about them.

Hat tip: Angela_K

3 responses to “Minister at ‘freaky’ Yorkshire church guilty of sexual assaults”

  1. CoastalMaineBird says:

    Some days I think that The FreeThinker is nothing but a police blotter, documenting the crimes of the privileged few, and noting that “denomination” is just another word for “sexual orientation”.
    I wonder if this does anyone any good. It’s likely that most regular readers are likely already disgusted by the clergy’s general attitude and specific proclivities, while the people to whom it would be eye-opening aren’t likely to come across it.

    Is there any chance of the world climbing down from the religious trees and moving out of the Dark Ages?

    Sometimes I despair.

  2. Stuart H. says:

    I’m actually impressed they managed to get seven complainants as far as the court and secure so many convictions.
    In cases like this I’ve observed involving evangelical fringe groups like Pentecostals and Baptists in smaller towns, attempts to report abuse to the police are quickly followed by church elders ‘persuading’ their families to withdraw complaints or move away before a trial can take place, using their links with employers and local government as a threat to livelihood, housing, education and social life.
    If a local police force listened to and supported so many victims that is a big step forward, and an incentive for other victims not to be scared off or stay silent.
    So, this isn’t a sad story. It’s an important sign of progress.

  3. Broga says:

    “on God’s orders” to rid his victims of evil spirits.” I wonder how the orders were conveyed.