Elders labelled “spiritually corrupt and morally bankrupt” in Mark Sewell trial
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Former elder Mark Sewell has been accused of using his position as an elder to exploit women and children (image: Wales Online)

Former elder Mark Sewell has been accused of using his position as an elder to exploit women and children (image: Wales Online)

Wales Online reporter Ciaran Jones is closely following a court case at Merthyr Crown Court where a former elder, Mark Sewell, is standing trial over 12 historic sex charges, which he denies.

The court has heard that businessman Sewell, 53, used his “position of power” to “exploit and abuse” women and children over a ten-year period.

Sewell was an elder at the 120-strong congregation in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, between 1985 and 1995. According to prosecutor Sarah Waters, he abused one girl in the congregation when she was aged between 10 and 15.

The girl, now in her 30s, alleges that Sewell began by kissing her on the lips and would later engineer situations for them to be alone and kiss her “with tongues.” She told the court that Sewell would get her to lay on top of him and would even strip down to his underpants and caress her back.

Finally she told her parents, who confronted Sewell. But he denied it, saying the girl had “misunderstood, lied or exaggerated things.”

Sewell is also accused of raping a female member of the congregation at his home in 1990 (who allegedly fell pregnant as a result and later miscarried), “massaging” a topless girl when she was aged between 12 and 14, and indecently assaulting a woman by rubbing his groin on her backside as she made a cup of tea.

“We will handle this. You might not even hear anything more about it,” the raped woman was later told by an elder according to witness testimony.

The girl who alleges to have been kissed by Sewell between the ages of 10 and 15 testified that a two-elder “investigating committee” was convened after she told her parents what happened in greater detail once she was older.

But it wasn’t until a seven-man committee of elders was appointed by the London Branch that Sewell was finally stripped of his position as an elder and disfellowshipped. According to the girl’s father, he was left with the impression that this was due to Sewell’s “belligerent and unforgiving attitude” rather than anything else.

“All I was told was because it was one person’s word against another and there weren’t two witnesses the matter couldn’t really be established,” he said.

Two of the local elders, one of whom was Mark Sewell’s father, were also stripped of their positions at this time for covering up Sewell’s actions. “During that period, though not necessarily within the Sewell family, some of the elders were spiritually corrupt and morally bankrupt,” the court heard.

The case is expected to last three weeks, and Ciaran Jones will be following it closely. You can keep updated with his latest articles on the trial on this link.

 

 

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58 Responses to Elders labelled “spiritually corrupt and morally bankrupt” in Mark Sewell trial

  1. Excelsior says:

    Cowboy,

    People who have been abused should just walk away?

    So what happens to the next victim, Cowboy?

    Do they get warned by your Elders that there is a paedophile in their midst?

    These victims who come forward and make a stand are magnificent people. They give me hope that there can be better times for us all. Do you know why, Cowboy?

    It’s because they want to help others as well as them selves.

    I walked away from your moribund religion twenty years ago. I came back to help others. I’m fine, now. It’s time to do a little for other people who suffer as I suffered from your religion and it’s cruel rules.

    I urge you to “walk away” from your religion. You have started to read about what really goes on, so do the right thing not the easy thing. That, in my opinion, would be the best way for you to express your Christianity.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  2. Bald headed Observer says:

    Interesting thread.
    It’s amazing how religion fires the soul.
    One has to wonder why, one has to look within to find that answer.
    In that though is where you have your answer.
    Within , within yourself why seek outside of yourself when all is inside yourself?
    Religion stokes the coals ,fires the soul…………when all the time within is peace , tranquility , a love of self and all which shines so bright.
    “Heal thy self” don’t let some old sage with an ego driven agenda blind you with twisted words …………..

  3. William Niles says:

    Nothing excuses this—nothing. The WT is criminally negligent, regardless of what their reasoning is. Do you honestly believe for one minute, that the policy the GB has in place regarding the handling of Child Molestation reflects God’s thinking on the matter? The Bible says in 1 John chapter 4 verse 1 to test the inspired expressions to see where they originate from, and by doing so one would know if it comes from our Creator or not; it’s easy to see in this case, which is just one example out of thousands, the answer to that invitation.

  4. pm says:

    This guy, Mark, there is no way to trust him. The way he is dressed shows no desire for living; he is wearing a secondhand tie, he is deprived monetarily, spiritually, and deprived through his lifestyle. He is one of the people who represents the Watchtower. Is the Watchtower broke? IT IS! The Watchtower might have all the money, but it does not have the truth! Watchtower, Watchtower why? I loved you, but you deceived me and it hurt. The chicks came home to roost and you forgot about that. You were in heaven and on top, but now you are below my soles. YOU LIED. I hope your government, your God, takes care of you. He is the only one you respect, without him you are nothing.You think you are rich but you are poor. Forgive me mother, father, friends, and family for deceiving you

  5. Searcher says:

    This certainly a spirited discussion! I agree with @Pedro that this type of vile behavior (i.e. crime) permeates throughout all organizations and positions of power. It is truly digusting no matter where it occurs!

    However, these elders and this organization claim THE moral high ground. “This is Jehovah God’s organization” as they claim. The article is once again another bit of evidence that this is not the organization that the GB claim it to be. In fact, they are showing that they themselves are bringing reproach on the name that they claim is theirs and theirs alone. (New Isreal, my big butt!)
    I hope (but not holding my breath) that more and more of the true victims come out and the lawsuits bankrupt this evil organization. I hope that those responsible for ruining the lives of these victims go to jail for their crimes. I hope that the GB has to find new jobs, like cleaning toilets or washing windows in a federal prison.

    As I have said before, the light is getting brighter. ON THEM!!! Thanks Cedars and all others here for confirming my own thoughts.

  6. Searcher says:

    … disgusting…
    Typo in last entry.

  7. Bad Penny says:

    pm
    Your comments are appreciated. I too loved “the truth” for 30 years! It is heart rending to see what is now, and has been happening within Watchtower walls. The organisation that many trusted with their lives has deceived them. Yes, it hurts, but time will heal.

  8. Jeni says:

    I’m so glad that this case and the many, many other that have been covered on this site and others are being prosecuted. Hopefully this stream of bad press is changing the opinion of would-be converts & maybe causing an awakening to those inside. But, I’m simultaneously heartbroken about the way these matters were handled in the first place. I’m also positive that many more cases have been settled quietly, gone unreported, or been ignored due to statute of limitations issues.

    I’d like to offer my condolences to anyone dealing with a similar situation.

    And to Watchtower & other organizations using silence to enable sexual predators I’d like to say: The world is watching you. These events are becoming more and more public. You cannot claim they are coincidence or poor management at the congregation level any longer. Change your policies on pedophiles… PLEASE!

  9. Jannai says:

    Jeni,

    Yes, it is heartbreaking, but the worse thing is trying to get something done about it – you just keep coming up against a brickwall. As far as the Society are concerned, with regard to child abuse, these men are arrogant and ruthless. This problem goes so deep and I don’t know what the answer is.

  10. anonymous says:

    I meant “get out of jail card”…….

  11. Jannai says:

    This video is very disturbing. I noticed how the elders were asking him how he felt about GB. This is something they asked me and I realised it was to trick me in order to give them grounds to accuse me of apostasy and so I avoided answering questions relating to the GB. I feel sorry for this brother. What do these men think they are doing.

  12. anonymous says:

    Hi Jannai.

    To me, it seems like the elders didn’t really have anything to say that made any sense at all and if they just kept talking and babbling words and more words, that they thought that eventually, this young man would just “change his mind” about not reporting time if they just kept making more and more words. They also didn’t have even one scripture to show to him why he needed to report his time and the only retort they could come up with was that he needed to obey the instructions from the Governing Body. What can we expect. These men aren’t equipped for a job like that anyway. They are so used to having the rank and file not to question them and to “obey” them since that is what we are always told to do in the Watchtower and who wants to be looked down as a “resister, or a Jezabel?”

  13. Jannai says:

    Hi anonymous,

    Yes, I agree with what you say about the reasons for the behaviour of the elders. It has been my experience that when having discussions with them, it’s as though this smokescreen comes down and this smokescreen is “the GB can do no wrong”, and so whatever you say, you will just not get through to them. This is, in my opinion,when things can become dangerous for an individual and the effect that elders can have on a person’s emotional state, because at this stage you are not talking to people who are capable of behaving in a normal manner. I would advise anyone to think very carefully before putting themselves in that position – they could do you a lot of harm.

  14. Patrice says:

    I fear the point of this article is getting drowned in a discussion about pornography. This case goes to trial tomorrow according to the news link that cedars has provided. This is a very serious issue within the organisation and I hope more come forward with the bravery of the victims of this case. And many others come to that.

  15. Patrice says:

    Correction to my comment. This case is already on trial. Today the jury is expected to retire to consider its verdicts.

  16. Cedars says:

    No worries, if you insist…

  17. The good Samaritan says:

    Hello everyone, using a different pseudonym just for this one.

    I just telephoned the local Bethel and asked them to tell me what their child protection policy was.

    I was asked specifically if I was from the press, which I said, truthfully, that I am not. I was asked if I was a member of a Congregation, to which I replied, truthfully, that I wasn’t.

    I was put through to the legal desk.

    I asked what the official child protection policy of the JWs was.

    I was asked again if I was from the press. I said I wasn’t.

    I was told to visit my local congregation and ask for a copy of the child protection policy. I was told to say that I had spoken to “head office” and they said it was ok.

    I must admit that I was shocked by this.

    I did my bit.

    The Good Samaritan

  18. The good Samaritan says:

    I have just lodged an official complaint about Jehovah’s Witnesses with the Charity Commision.

    Cedars, I notice from their website that each individual congregation is listed as separate entities.

    Will my complain still stand?

    I did my bit.

    The Good Samaritan

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