Former elder convicted of rape and pedophilia amid claims of non-cooperation and destroyed evidence
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The conviction of Mark Sewell as a pedophile and rapist casts a shadow over the Barry Congregation

The conviction of Mark Sewell as a pedophile and rapist casts a shadow over the Barry Congregation

One of the most alarming Jehovah’s Witness sex abuse cases ever seen in the UK has ended with the conviction of former elder, Mark Sewell, on eight historic sex charges, including rape, between 1987 and 1995.

Sewell, 53, faces a lengthy jail sentence after the jury at the Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court delivered their verdicts, which included unanimous guilty verdicts on five counts of indecent assault against two young girls.

“By a combination of bullying, bluster and hypocrisy you managed to avoid being brought to account for this utterly disgraceful behaviour for many years,” said Judge Richard Twomlow as he remanded Sewell into custody, adding: “Fortunately the jury were not fooled by you and you now face a very substantial prison sentence.”

The businessman and former elder, who has now been utterly exposed as a “sexual predator” who used his “position of power” as an elder to “exploit and abuse” women and children, has brought shame on his local congregation in Barry, South Wales, and indeed Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide.

Clear negligence revealed

But perhaps just as disturbing as Sewell’s litany of abuse has been the way allegations against him were mishandled by his local elders, who according to instructions from Watchtower were under the direction of the London Branch for all child abuse cases.

As full details of the trial continue to come to light, it has emerged that…

  • Evidence of allegations against Sewell dating back 20 years was “shredded” by the organization.
  • Of the “eight or nine” Barry Congregation elders involved in judicial committee hearings against Sewell, only one agreed to give evidence in his Crown Court trial. The rest refused, claiming that they either couldn’t remember or were unwilling to assist.
  • Despite disfellowshipping Sewell 20 years ago, Jehovah’s Witnesses provided no help to police and prosecutors in their investigations.
Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court - all but one elder involved with Mark Sewell refused to give evidence here

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court – all but one elder involved with Mark Sewell refused to give evidence here

It was also revealed earlier in the case that the London Branch appointed a seven-man committee of elders to investigate allegations against Sewell. But although this resulted in Sewell being stripped of his position as an elder and disfellowshipped, this action was supposedly taken due to claims of his “belligerent and unforgiving attitude” rather than his sexually abusive behavior. His sex offenses were thus left unacknowledged and unreported.

And in a further indignity, Sewell’s victims were made to confront him personally if they wished to see justice served. As SNAP director David Clohessy remarked in response to the judgment: “The internal church ‘process’ followed here was awful. Victims were sworn to silence and had to be in the room with this predator when they reported their pain, both of which are cruel demands to make on brave but deeply-suffering crime victims.”

Statements conflicting with actions

All of the above flies in the face of PR statements made by Watchtower in the wake of the ruling.

A Watchtower spokesman has reportedly offered the following comment (bold is mine):

“As Jehovah’s Witnesses we have an absolute and unequivocal abhorrence of child abuse and [offer] our support for any victim or parent who reports this crime to the authorities. This is in line with what the Bible says at Romans 12:9. We feel that the care and safeguarding of children and the promotion of their welfare is extremely important. Jehovah’s Witnesses act in harmony with the law and do not condone child abuse in any circumstance or endeavour to shield from the authorities those committing offences of this nature. The spiritual and physical welfare of Jehovah’s Witnesses is of paramount concern to the elders who have been appointed to ‘shepherd the flock’. Individual members of the congregation who seek guidance on personal matters rightly expect that their concerns are treated confidentially. In the shepherding setting the elders offer personal support in a sensitive and caring manner. Therefore, we are unable to comment on the details of any specific case. Mark Sewell has not been a member of the Barry Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 20 years.”

If Jehovah’s Witnesses truly have an “absolute and unequivocal abhorrence of child abuse” why were the allegations made against Sewell not reported to the police straight away?

And if Jehovah’s Witnesses “act in harmony with the law” and do not “endeavour to shield from the authorities those committing offenses of this nature,” why did all but one of the elders involved in judicial action against Sewell refuse to offer evidence at trial, why was evidence destroyed, and why was no help given to police or prosecutors during their investigations?

The Mark Sewell case clearly demonstrates that, when it comes to the handling of child sex abuse, Watchtower is willing to say whatever will tickle the ears of the public even if such statements entirely contradict their actions.

Justice finally served

Despite the horrific nature of Sewell’s crimes and the way they were effectively covered up by his elders (and arguably the branch office), there can be at least some consolation in the fact that yet another predator has been brought to justice – even if this is with no thanks to Watchtower.

That Sewell’s victims pursued justice so doggedly despite so many setbacks is worthy of huge admiration.

As SNAP’s David Clohessy noted: “Given the mean-spirited treatment by JW officials, it’s a miracle that Sewell’s victims are willing to cooperate with the secular justice system. We applaud them for doing so. We hope they take some comfort from the jury’s wise decision today.”

Two witness rule increasingly exposed

The case has also been very helpful in bringing to light the shocking inadequacy of Watchtower’s approach to child abuse, including its increasingly notorious “two witness rule.”

In his coverage of the case, journalist Ciaran Jones told of how “Judge Richard Twomlow touched on the church’s two-witness rule and told the jury it meant anything alleged to have happened in private ‘can never be proved’ unless both people involved agree.”

Judge Richard Twomlow

Judge Richard Twomlow

Judge Twomlow is said to have remarked that “almost all sexual activity, whether consensual or not, happens in private,” noting that the first victim must “challenge” an offender at a judicial committee. “How effective that can actually be as an actual judicial inquiry may be open to doubt,” the judge reportedly commented.

It is a relief to see the absurd and immoral two witness rule finally receiving some much-deserved exposure, not just by journalists investigating these cases, but by law enforcers.

It remains to be seen whether Watchtower can continue its charade as a “charity” in the UK, where indifference and credulity by regulatory bodies such as the Charity Commission is slowly giving way to greater scrutiny – especially over safeguarding measures in which the organization falls so woefully short.

Though the Governing Body stubbornly refuses to bring its child protection policies into line with basic principles of decency and community responsibility, the tide is slowly turning as thinking Witnesses grow weary of having their children placed in harm’s way out of mistaken allegiance to archaic traditions.

As this website has repeatedly insisted: “Let the bible judge sin, let the law judge crime.”

 

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113 Responses to Former elder convicted of rape and pedophilia amid claims of non-cooperation and destroyed evidence

  1. Knightowl says:

    On behalf of Mrs Knightowl :-

    Judgement :- 14 years

  2. Knightowl says:

    not forgetting all the other victims :- Justice is served

  3. gary says:

    14 years for a sick piece of sh,one,t: marvelous:-) Hang your head in shame Watchtower for doing FA.
    Sisters your the real deal & I love you bits. Watchtower get that piece of crap of the platform now.
    Sisters & I’m crying, you’ve just protected every innocent children. Lots of love & thank you xxxxxxx

  4. ang says:

    The only real justice would be to see him swinging on the end of a rope,but as that wont happen glad he got a lenghthy sentence. So proud of those brave women ,it must of been horrendous from them to go through that ordeal.my heart goes out to them.hope they get a measure of closure.but shame on the elders who didn’t support them.

  5. Mrs Knightowl says:

    Thank you Gary and Ang. Your comments are much appreciated. It’s been a long time coming. Feels good to be vindicated. Not being believed by the Elders has taken a great toll on me and my family. Being shunned for telling the truth has been devastating. I hope the society is found guilty of criminal negligence and that anyone else out there who has suffered/is suffering, please please come forward. It’s tough but worth it in the end. Thank you again for all your kind words of love and encouragement xxx

  6. Excelsior says:

    ang,

    I agree with your sentiments but I believe that spending 14 years in jail is a far better punishment. Let that wicked man stew in a jail cell, abhorred and shunned by his fellow prisoners. Let him have to face the fact that he is a CONVICTED PAEDOPHILE for every second of every day of those 14 years.

    Gary,

    Your daughter must be so proud of you. You, sir, are a fine and good man. I hope that you can help those ladies who want to expose YET ANOTHER child molester.

    Ladies, you have gone through such a horrific experience. I hope that the conviction of this disgusting man helps you to continue with your lives on this wonderful world. All of us commenters on this site are on your side and we all wish you peace and love and a good life.

    The more I peel away the tissue of decency of this repugnant religion, the more I see that they are as far from Christianity as it is possible to be.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  7. GEM says:

    English West Country TV: BBC

    The Evil Eunice Spry is being released after serving 7 years of 14 for Child Abuse… and, will be housed within 20 miles of her victims.

    Very emotional interview with one of her children, assumed to be free of Watchtower now. How did the congregation in Tewkesbury not know that this awful abuse was not going on?

    Historic case of Child Abuse by a JW… rearing its head again.

  8. Whizzywoo says:

    I just want to commend all you ladies for your courageous actions, worldly justice has been served and there is one less predator prowling for victims.

    As can be seen from the many high profile paedophile prosecutions, these revolting and unrecalcitrant people are adept at hiding in plain sight and will tell you darkness is light with a completely straight face, which is why those closest to them are often the most hoodwinked of all (and why they are often accompanied to court by supportive family). This adds up to a nasty cocktail which any church trial is particularly unqualified to deal with, making the admonition to JW elders to contact hq rather than police when faced with such allegations more reminiscent of damage limitation than victim protection.

    As the Charity Commission defines dissemination of religion to be charitable, you may find that legal obligation to protect children from such monsters could be a good angle to approach the issue. The more information the Charity Commission has on how JWs operate from those who know the reality (as opposed to the official face of WTBTS), the more likely they will be able to act. I believe there are a few sites that deal with the international problems of hidden paedophilia?

    Keep praying, God does not approve of his sheep being treated so badly xx

  9. ang says:

    Excelsior my brother is in Durham prison ,he was convicted of 13 charges of child abuse in its many forms. He has visits from his wife,getting taught a trade,kept apart from other prisons (who would attack him) he hasn’t got the worry of paying bills,making a living etc. He still denies he did anything wrong. He is sheltered .so now you may understand why i want the death penalty be brought back ,they don’t deserve to be alive. Sorry for the rant .but my hatred for my brother is so intense. He to abused children under the guise of being ” man of god”.a ministerial servant.

  10. Rudeawake says; says:

    Kmorg & Nightoul it’s good to know that in your hour and times of distress you have friends to turn to who will welcome and comfort you with open arms…we on this site have endeavored to do just that from the depth of our hearts,what ever the sentence this creep receive will be his just desert as the fruits of his ungodly acts of betrayal of trust and loyalty…now you’re free from fear of man as you now can trump expressions of truth thereby helping others in the process…so in the words of the psalmist i say to you :Be courageous an let your heart be strong all you who are waiting on Jehovah,31:24…vs 21-23 has happened in your case…GOD HAS REWARDED YOU WITH VICTORY OVER YOUR OPPRESSORS !!!!! You will continue to be comforted…You have our loyal support,the GOD of love and comfort is watching over you.

  11. gary says:

    Seems to me (after having 20 years experience) that, no offence, the Society will keep quiet & allow things to blow over.
    (We have a duty to God to maintain confidentiality)
    Would it not be possible to create some sort of database for each country of convicted molesters. Names, dates, nature of crimes, whether they pleaded guilty or not, & the hall they attend?

  12. Ted says:

    Sewell, The right verdict sure, But un satisfying in that
    only the symptom has been dealt with, The underlying
    cause of the cancer is the watchtower org, and it’s two
    witness rule, and the instructions (Command) to elders to
    immediately inform the branch office in cases of child
    molestation, The obvious reason for this is so they can find
    a way to distance themselves from the crime.

    Can an organization be blamed for the crimes of it’s members,? Perhaps not initially when nothing was known
    of their character, But when a serious crime is brushed aside as a direct result of the organizations published rules
    then they become culpable in any other crimes of a similar
    kind committed by a particular individual.

    “Shepherd the flock of god”, What hypocrisy, and what
    Arrogance, placing themselves above the law of the land,
    The watchtower organization is quite frankly diabolical in the
    true sense of the word.

  13. Knightowl says:

    Gary,
    People have very short memories and often selective.
    Truth is an abstract (consider that one)
    MacArthurs Park is melting in the dark.
    The suggestion of a database is open to a vast legal minefield ,in all honesty it’s about people not surrendering their spirit to outside influences.
    I was brought up in the RC faith and trust me they had their fair share of odd clergy violinists and scout masters who fiddled. To make worse born in a town where Cyril Smith had rule …thankfully I remained free from any such abuse other than the violent parental.
    Until the cycle of surrendering spirit is broken that sins of the father thing will perpetuate .

    It needs brave souls to stand tall which these ladies have.
    Grains of sand need only vibrate a little to touch another for they to vibrate another but the beach has a lot of sand. Sadly there are many rocks too still to be worn down by the waves to find their place on the beach by the tranquil sea.
    I hope this is the start of a ripple that becomes a tidal wave in this quarter and gives hope to others.
    I’m humbled by the bravery of Mrs Knightowl.

  14. Ted says:

    Sewell, Right verdict sure, But it’s still un satisfying, It’s only treating the symptom, the cancers still there in the
    watchtower org, with the two witness rule, and instruction
    (Command) to elders to immediately inform the branch
    office of any child molestation, The obvious reason for that
    second rule , Is to create time to distance themselves from
    any involvement.

    Is any organization responsible for the crimes of it’s members, Not initially when there’s no evidence of any
    Previous crime, But when a crime is known and is brushed
    aside by the organizations own published rules, Thereby
    allowing an individual to committ more of the same kind of
    crime, Then the organization is culpable in those crimes.

    “Shepherd the flock of god”, What hypocrisy, What arrogance, placing it’s self before the law of the land,
    The watchtower organization is quite frankly “Diabolical in the true sense of the word.
    True sense of the word.

  15. Ted says:

    Going back to the two witness rule in Deuteronomy, We know that ones easily demolished, As Christians are not
    Under Mosaic law, We will then be referred to Jesus words at Matt, 18, “If your brother does not listen take along two
    or three others as witnesses to establish the matter, : let’s
    now imagine a situation and then try to “Rigidly apply those
    words,: (If your brother rapes your daughter go lay bare his fault his fault between him and you alone, If he does not
    listen take along two or three others as witnesses), Without
    pointing out the obvious , It would be impossible to produce the witnesses.

    Good law is applied with equity, reasonableness, taking into
    account each situation, That’s how Jesus applied it, It was
    the pharisees who were the hard line men the blinkered ones, What man wouldn’t break the sabbath law to pull his
    sheep out of the pit, How easily Jesus exposed their stunted reasoning.

    The watchtower leaders are caricatures of the pharisees,
    With a Talmud like dossier of over a thousand rigid rules that their members must keep, Glad I eventually got wise
    to them, Although it took 25 years.

  16. Excelsior says:

    ang,

    I cannot pretend to know how you have suffered with your brother being a paedophile. I think we should agree to disagree on the death penalty. You have my sincere sympathy and respect.

    The days of increase for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the West are over. The fact that the WTBTS protects and shelters paedophiles is becoming common knowledge and the good people of the UK have zero tolerance for these despicable individuals.

    The WTBTS solution? Get children to be baptised as soon as possible to lock them in to a life of high control by the GB.

    We must press forward our defence of what is right. Facts are our ammunition and the WTBTS continues to provide us with damning evidence of their complete lack of any compassion for the innocent victims of domestic abuse and child abuse.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  17. Ted says:

    Going back to the two witness rule in Deuteronomy, We know that ones easily demolished, As Christians are not
    Under Mosaic law, We will then be referred to Jesus words at Matt, 18, “If your brother does not listen take along two
    or three others as witnesses to establish the matter, : let’s
    now imagine a situation and then try to “Rigidly apply those
    words,: (If your brother rapes your daughter go lay bare his fault, Between you and him alone, If he does not
    listen take along two or three others as witnesses), Without
    pointing out the obvious , It would be impossible to produce
    the witnesses.

    Good law is applied with equity, reasonableness, taking into
    account each situation, That’s how Jesus applied it, It was
    the pharisees who were the hard line men the blinkered ones, What man wouldn’t break the sabbath law to pull his
    sheep out of the pit, How easily Jesus exposed their stunted reasoning.

    The watchtower leaders are caricatures of the pharisees,
    With a Talmud like dossier of over a thousand rigid rules that their members must keep, Glad I eventually got wise
    to them, Although it took 25 years.

  18. kat says:

    from Mrs Nightowl

    “Thank you Gary and Ang. Your comments are much appreciated. It’s been a long time coming. Feels good to be vindicated. Not being believed by the Elders has taken a great toll on me and my family. Being shunned for telling the truth has been devastating. I hope the society is found guilty of criminal negligence and that anyone else out there who has suffered/is suffering, please please come forward. It’s tough but worth it in the end. Thank you again for all your kind words of love and encouragement xxx”

    My sentiments exactly!!

    The GB of the org should ultimately be responsible, it shouldn’t stop at just one congregation or congregation level.

  19. Ted says:

    Cedars, Do our posts come up quick, Or are they moderated first, I don’t want to be doing duplicates,

    Thanks for enjoyable & worthwhile site.

    • Cedars says:

      Thanks Ted!

      I’m not sure how you’re editing your comments but I notice they’re getting flagged by our spam filter because they have an unusual format, namely lots of small lines in quick succession rather than continuous paragraphs. I suggest writing your comment in the box, copying and pasting it to notepad just in case there is a problem, and then submitting it. Hopefully that should work.

  20. Ted says:

    Going back to the two witness rule in Deuteronomy, that’s
    easily demolished as Christians are not under Mosaic Law,
    But then we would be referred to Matt,18, Where in the case of an un resolved dispute Jesus says take along one or
    two others as witnesses try to reach agreement, but would
    that counsel work in every case, For instance: If your
    brother rapes your daughter bring up his fault between you
    and him alone, If he refuses to listen take along one or two
    witnesses, Without stating the obvious it would be
    impossible to produce witnesses.

    Good law is applied with equity, reasonableness, taking into
    account every situation, That’s how Jesus applied the law,
    It was the Pharisees that were the hard men rigid, stupid,
    Un reasonable, How easily Jesus exposed them , what
    man wouldn’t break the Sabbath law to pull his sheep out of
    pit.

    The watchtower men are caricatures of the Pharisees, with
    their Talmud dossier of over a thousand rules that you must
    obey without question.

  21. Excelsior says:

    kat,

    Absolutely right! This shambles is the responsibility of everyone who continues these disgusting policies. It starts with the seven men of the Governing Body, and it extends down through the Organisation to Congregation level.

    As I have posted to go compare, every Elder has a copy of Shepherding the Flock of God, and they have training around this vile document. They co operate with its secrecy by not allowing it to be seen by anyone who is not an Elder.

    They should be alarmed by this secret dossier, it should make them uncomfortable that God has decided to have hidden information for the first time in history!!

    We are responsible for our individual actions. We cannot use the excuse that we were just following orders.

    I always look forward to your comments, kat. I appreciate your unique perspective and the burdens you bear.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  22. anonymous says:

    Since the Society insists on the 2 witness rule found in Deut. it is odd that they don’t also insist on the rapist having to marry the girl and not being able to divorce her all his life too as found in Deut. 22:28,29.

  23. Excelsior says:

    anonymous,

    A very valid point, Madam.

    The two witness rule was about boundary disputes, pure and simple. Yet another scripture ripped from its meaning and context by the GB.

    For people who actually believe in God and a resurrected Jesus, the WTBTS have a great line in blasphemy!!!!

    They dare to suggest that a God that personifies Love would want innocent victims to suffer in silence from the horror of child abuse because they choose to apply a scripture that evidently applies to boundary disputes. They dare to state that Jesus has chosen the GB personally, and that every elder (including the disgusting man just convicted) is appointed by Holy Spirit.

    I don’t believe in God anymore. But they do. How can they believe that they have God’s blessing?

    Whatever our beliefs, folks, we are all united in our complete rejection of the WTBTS’ child protection policy. We all want to see victims acknowledged and compensated, and a fit for purpose child protection policy vigorously enforced.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  24. Mandelay says:

    A nice victory for the U.K. It’s revolting that Watchtower leadership does nothing to acknowledge and support the victims of these crimes compared to the current Pope, who has defrocked 400 priests in the past two years and this year has met face-to-face with victims and apologized to them. I’m not Roman Catholic, but that Pope, you gotta love him!

  25. Art Fern says:

    Some random thoughts on the subject:
    Please watch the BBC Documentary Louis Theroux-”A Place For Pedophiles”. This documentary is a shocking report on the men who commit these crimes, outlines how a sociopathic mind really works, and finally why the likelihood of turning these criminals into non-threatening, non-abusers, is beyond remote. Surely the Tower understands, from their volume of experience, that neither Jesus, science, or modern pharmaceuticals, will cure a pedophile, hence protecting the flock “should” be job 1.
    The PR reps statement was so sickening self-serving I couldn’t stomach reading the entire paragraph. IF THEY CARED it would seem that bringing the sins of an APOSTATE into the open to save JW children might be a priority. Not so, protecting the Tower is the first and ONLY goal followed by deny, deny, deny.
    A JW pedophile is living in his PARADISE, who cares about what happens after the tribulation. The man is surrounded by victims who are taught to KEEP QUIET, if word gets out, the discipline faced by the abuser is weak and temporary with no chance his leaders will take it to the law or encourage the victims to report the crimes. If the man is in a leadership capacity he will either remain or be restored to his position at a later time.
    The doctrine and procedures dealing with child sex crime is a perfect storm to maintain the abuse and attract more men with this “issue”. I don’t have any stats but if pedophiles do not have a higher rate of recidivism than all other categories of criminals, I would be stunned, they seem to just keep on, keeping on, prison or no prison. I would like to see mandatory minimums return, with a very heavy sentence for the second offence and life for the third.

  26. Art Fern says:

    I agree and that is the result when you pull a verse out of its context and apply it to a time, people and to a situation where it was never intended. “We follow the Bible, ain’t we special” is a joke, if you ignore the basis for the words, you are misusing and abusing the Bible.

  27. Art Fern says:

    Good point Ted. You don’t deal with an epidemic on a case by case basis, you go to the conditions that allow the disease to spread and eliminate, or change, those conditions. Its just silly to think a pedophile preforms before an audience, common sense screams loud and clear that the policy cannot be applied to child sexual abuse.

  28. Excelsior says:

    Folks,

    Typing in “child protection policy” into JW.org brings up an article about sex as it’s first choice.

    The article tells parents to teach their children to say that they will tell their parents if they are abused.

    This is disingenuous. If the child “tells” then the paedophile will not even break a sweat! He/she will simply deny that it happened, and because there are not two witnesses, NOTHING will be done.

    It sickens me to my soul that these despicable scumbags can have an open season on Witness children and young people.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  29. Excelsior says:

    kat,

    Thanks for the link. What a revolting man Sewell is! I am so glad that he is in jail where he belongs.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

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