What the heck, let’s get back to religious sex abuse. We spent a whole week away exploring religious violence, let’s return to what religion is known for best, it’s ability to victimize people in the name of God. This time out, it’s the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Wales under the magnifying glass. Although he denies it, Jehovah’s Witness Senior Elder Mark Sewell, 53, was convicted of sexually abusing two young girls and raping a woman, all using his religious influence, his “position of power” to “exploit and abuse” the women for over a decade.
Prosecutor Sarah Waters told the jury that Sewell used his influence “to perpetrate such sexual abuse over a number of years for his own sexual gratification” and that “he is a sexual predator that took opportunities available to him to satisfy his sexual desires. For example he would use his high position in the Jehovah’s Witness congregation to act in a sexually inappropriate manner with women, being ‘touchy-feely’ and insisting that he kiss them on the lips.”
When one girl reported Sewell’s actions to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they convened a hearing in which three Elders sat in a quasi-tribunal, but he was found not guilty of the charges. Now he sits in a secular courtroom which is far harsher than the religious kangaroo court he was in previously. According to Waters, “The prosecution say that their handling of the complaint was perhaps not done appropriately.”
One defendant, a woman who is now 30, but was 10 when Sewell abused her, says Sewell would find instances to kiss her “with tongues” and wanted her to lay on top of him after he had disrobed. “It was a strange feeling because it was like part of me knew it wasn’t right but then because of how I felt about him – I looked up to him – I don’t know why but I just let him do it. I was frightened of him as well. I was scared.” The woman also said that when other female members of the congregation would speak about Sewell, they all referred to him as “creepy”. Ya think?
Luckily, the jury found Sewell guilty on all counts and while he hasn’t been sentenced yet, it’s certain that he’ll be put away for a very long time. The judge told him after the conviction, “By a combination of bullying, bluster and hypocrisy you managed to avoid being brought to account for this utterly disgraceful behaviour for many years. Fortunately the jury were not fooled by you and you now face a very substantial prison sentence.”
I hope he rots and I don’t think his religious cred is going to buy him much sympathy from Bubba in the next cell. Now he’s immortalized forever as another religious sexual predator on Horror Show Sunday.