Earlier this year Mark Sewell, a Jehovah’s Witness from South Wales, was convicted for eight historic sex offenses, including rape, which took place between 1987 and 1995.
This Wednesday, December 10th, Sewell appeared at Cardiff Crown Court to appeal his original sentence, only for three Court of Appeal judges to reject his appeal.
Their decision was welcomed by Karen Morgan, one of Sewell’s victims who he plied with alcohol and took advantage of sexually while still a young girl.
“I’m very relieved. I’m hoping he’ll just accept it now,” she told the Barry & District News.
“You do wonder whether another set of judges will see things the same way, so you have to prepare yourself but I have no doubt – he won’t be able to pull the wool over people’s eyes any more.”
Karen also recently gave a very candid interview on JWpodcast in which she recounted her experience and the impact her ordeal has had in her family life. She confirmed that Sewell has yet to be disfellowshipped for his abuse of her and others despite his criminal conviction.
The news that Sewell’s appeal was rejected has coincided with yet another UK child molestation case coming to light, this time further south in Bournemouth. Barry Furlong is accused of raping and sexually abusing children over a 17-year period while he was a ministerial servant.
A jury of six men and six women at Bournemouth Crown Court are currently deliberating over four charges of rape, four of indecent assault and six of indecency with a child – all alleged to have been committed between December 1979 and November 1996.
One of the alleged victims claims she was only 10 years old when she was sexually abused.
Furlong’s position of trust in the congregation as a ministerial servant has already been pointed to as a key factor in his ability to keep his victims silent.
“When a person gets to that level, the abused children found it impossible at the time to disclose what had happened to them,” prosecutor Mark Worsley told the court. “Why would anyone believe what they had to say against the word of a trusted man like Barry Furlong?”
Many Jehovah’s Witnesses are unaware that, as recently as October 2012, elders around the world were instructed in a special letter that child molestation was not necessarily grounds for a man to be overlooked for special privileges in a congregation.
“It cannot be said in every case that one who has sexually abused a child could never qualify for privileges of service in the congregation,” the letter insisted.
- Barry & District News article
- Bournemouth Echo article on Barry Furlong
- JWpodcast interview with Karen Morgan
- When will Watchtower learn? – Karen Morgan speaks out on her abuser’s 14 year sentence
- Elders labelled “spiritually corrupt and morally bankrupt” in Mark Sewell trial
- JWsurvey articles on child abuse