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.

 

 

new-cedars-signature2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further reading…

58 thoughts on “Elders labelled “spiritually corrupt and morally bankrupt” in Mark Sewell trial

  • June 13, 2014 at 6:02 am
    Permalink

    Thanks John, for helping to move things forward one article at a time.

  • June 13, 2014 at 7:44 am
    Permalink

    Thank you for publishing this, I really hope this gets a lot more publicity.
    People need to know just how appallingly the organisation handles child abuse and hopefully the charity commission investigation will help shed more light on the crimes committed and covered up by the elders.

  • June 13, 2014 at 7:51 am
    Permalink

    I hope and pray that their are some honest elders that are really Christians and either resign in protest or speak out!

    After all they are suppose to be shepherds of the flock.

    and we have seen on this site and others elders that have because of their conscience stepped down and realised that they have been listening and following rules made by men by twisting scriptures to the detriment of victims.

  • June 13, 2014 at 8:02 am
    Permalink

    The Torah is stuffed full of utterly weird laws, many of which now seem as primitive as they are barbaric. Why the JWs imagine they can select the 2 witness rule but ignore most of the dietary stuff is never explained.

  • June 13, 2014 at 8:06 am
    Permalink

    Doctors,lawyers,judges and people in power positions(Elders) are high on the list of those who are sex offenders. They use their power to cover over and get away with their crimes.
    So it is without question that most are dilousiinal and in denial about their conduct.
    Something magical happens when you dress up in a suit and are in a position of power. Unfortuately at times it is not for good motives.

  • June 13, 2014 at 8:37 am
    Permalink

    Rowland, Excellent point! The Watchtower has consistently taught, on the one hand, that Jesus “fulfilled the Law” and that we are no longer bound by it. That’s why they don’t observe Sabbath, or formally “tithe” (although they do now, but just call it something else like “declared giving”). This has been the classic “con” of evangelical religions since the early 1800s, pick and choose whatever they want, ignore what they don’t, and then use heavy-handed punishments against those who can’t seem to figure out when the Law applies and when it doesn’t. The Watchtower leaders, going all the way back to Russell, have been consistent in their use of “quote mining,” or choosing select Bible scriptures from either testament, to prove or disprove whatever they want – and simply ignore the rest. They are such pharisees and their hypocrisy has become a danger, not only to Jehovah’s Witness women and children, but also to the public at large. The courts really need to step in and deal with this with a very heavy handed approach until the WT buckles – and you know they will eventually if they think their income will be turned off. Government authorities need to go in an confiscate properties and bank accounts until the Watchtower comes clean and changes its ways. And they can do this! All they have to do is “quote mine” a different set of scriptures. And they have proven to be expert at that particular skill.

  • June 13, 2014 at 9:50 am
    Permalink

    I was born into this “religion” (30 years) and have recently stopped attending and will never return. I find it so interesting that the JW religion has pointed so many fingers at other religions about sexual abuse but it appears that in the meantime they have covered up their own “dirty secrets”. I sincerely hope that the JW religion is held liable for any and all of the terrible abuse that has been inflicted on innocent victims by predators who have never been held accountable for their actions and that this is publicized and made known to everyone through the media or other channels. Also, I believe that if the government were to take some type of action and “hit them in the pocketbook” it may finally force them to change their ways. For a corporate religion, which in my opinion is what the JW religion really is, money talks.

  • June 13, 2014 at 10:27 am
    Permalink

    Rob, brilliant response, you nailed it, spot on!!

  • June 13, 2014 at 10:32 am
    Permalink

    Here in Rwanda, an Elder named MUHOZI Egide used his position to have sex with EIGHTEEN women.

    Among the 18 women, he IMPREGNATED two women who were disfellowshipped. The women are in an endless fight with the elder’s wife and have finally stopped to go to meetings to avoid distressful confrontation…

    It was one of the saddest stories I have ever heard.

  • June 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm
    Permalink

    Hakizimana Jean de Dieu,

    This information is outrageous!

    Do you have a link to the information on MUHOZI Egide? Was he ever charged with these crimes?

    Was there a judiciary hearing?

  • June 13, 2014 at 1:41 pm
    Permalink

    Why don’t they use John 8:17,18? The first witness was Jesus on earth and the second witness was his father who sent him. JW.Org is always saying that you have to be patient and leave things in Jehovah’s hands. That he will fix things in his own due time.
    Why can’t that first witness be the child that was raped and the second witness be god? Isn’t that leaving things in Jehovah’s hands instead of protecting THEIR pedophiles? JW.Org chooses, picks and twists the scriptures to suite their sick agendas. Now who’s bringing reproach on god?

  • June 14, 2014 at 12:22 am
    Permalink

    @imacountrygirl,

    There was a judiciary hearing in Jehovah’s Witnesses only and he was desfellowshipped with some of the women he had abused especially those he impregnated.

    The story got known 10 years ago when the elder (MUHOZI Egide) was caught red handed by a SISTER when he was fornicating with a another SISTER in Kingdom Hall. The sister who caught them was disfellowshipped, too. She had kept it a secret for almost 2 years…

    Things are different here in our countries, SISTERS suffer of sexual abuse by ELDERS in silence. Most of them are poor, not educated what means they are not aware of their rights and do not have financial means to seek for justice in secular courts.

    Elders are protected, they act like SMALL GODS in our lands. Women are suffering in silence struggling to raise their children born from sexual abuse by elders.

  • June 14, 2014 at 1:15 am
    Permalink

    Hakizimana Jean de Dieu
    I am a bit confused by what you are saying. Was this sexual misconduct by the elders. Abuse is a bit different. Are you saying the women were forced. Please dont think I am defending anyone here, it is just that terminoligy is very important. From what I read in the Mark Sewell case this was young girls and in the case of the woman it was rape. Then with another is was misconduct because the woman was not willing. If those 18 women were raped I am absolutly devastated for them. As far as the one keeping quiet for two years that is going on big time by this organisation. . It is why I left.
    Hope no offence is given by my asking. Just trying to see the difference between our countries laws.

  • June 14, 2014 at 2:10 am
    Permalink

    I’m just curious but why can’t the plaintiffs take some sort of civil action against the organisation for perpetrating this, just like the Candice Conti case.

  • June 14, 2014 at 2:45 am
    Permalink

    @Patrice,
    I agree with you t that terminology is very important and there is no offense given by your asking.

    Given the context in which the elder MUHOZI Egide had sex with 18 women in Kingdom Hall, it is not easy to say whether it was rape or sexual misconduct. Some of the 18 women were married and others were single (all impregnated ones were single)!!

    All I can say with certainty is that the elder used his power to exploit sexually the sisters. He was in charge of distributing SECRET FOOD, CLOTHES AND FINANCIAL AID to Jehovah’s Witnesses in his congregation. The women accepted to be sexually exploited to get food and fit clothes as people say some sisters were given unfit clothes and those sexually exploited were always given a good portion of the aid. I think he PREYED on the women using Watchtower’s aid.

    As far as law and its enforcement is concerned, I think things are different. To understand what I want to mean, read this BBC piece of news “Kenya’s hidden sex tourism in Malindi” from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-274276300

    The elders exploited sexually these poor women to get Watchtower’s aid.

  • June 14, 2014 at 4:01 am
    Permalink

    It makes me so angry. You can be in the truth and the truth not be in you. Thank you for answering my questions. I am so sorry that these women were sunjected to an opportunist like him.
    Love to you.

  • June 14, 2014 at 4:04 am
    Permalink

    Often as in this case whole families are in the “truth”. There is a huge risk to be taken if you go up against the organisation. Many have been disfellowshipped and have lost their families as a result.

  • June 14, 2014 at 4:55 am
    Permalink

    @Patrice, you are right. Do you know what happened to this teenager …

    *** yb08 p. 46 Preaching and Teaching Earth Wide ***
    Rwanda
    A teenager named Gentille became famous because of her ability to score goals when playing soccer. People called her Manayibitego, which means in the local Kinyarwanda language “God of Goals.” Some Italians noticed her ability and gave her additional training. They then invited her to participate in soccer games in Italy. Moving to Europe and having the opportunity to become an internationally known footballer was an attractive prospect. However, Gentille knew that accepting the offer would involve leaving her family. Her mother is a Witness, and although Gentille had studied the Bible, she never took the study seriously. What came first in her life was soccer. Gentille discussed the matter with her mother and came to realize the spiritual dangers involved. She decided to decline the offer and to put Kingdom interests first in her life. She was baptized at a recent assembly.

    After she was praised in the Yearbook 2008, an Elder attempted to rape her on the way from preaching. When she voiced it out, when the Circuit Overseer visited their congregation, all the family had to pay the price.

    That girl who was praised is now cursed, fellowshipped for now more than 5 years. She said she would never come back!!

  • June 14, 2014 at 9:41 am
    Permalink

    Rudely awaken says;
    How did we get from there to here!!!!wow oh wow!!! Who would ever have thought that these men who goes around with noses in the air boasting about gifts in men and appointment by holy spirit has turned out to be nothing more than confounded hypocrites.there is no holy spirit in them, as i myself have observed.It;s just a dream,a life of illusion that they live…using the two witness rule to mislead and deceive.the GB IS MUCH TO BE BLAMED,For the covering up…This fills me up with disgust and shame..BTW…THANKS FOR THE TTATT AND YOUR BRAVERY IN KEEPING US INFORMED…

  • June 14, 2014 at 10:17 am
    Permalink

    There is nothing carefully concealed that that will not be made known in the light,and the internet now brightly shines the light on all these long concealed monstrosities while asking of us to blindly obey these men rather than GOD and his son,filling up themselves with power an authority over us,they themselves have overstepped GOD’S commands and so must reap the rewards for the measure of they sins….James 4:17…I’VE Been blinded by they new light…but thanks to GOD he is letting the true light shine forth out of the darkness..

  • June 14, 2014 at 1:52 pm
    Permalink

    @ Haki,

    WOW!!! Buddy I never knew that, I remember reading that experience. I am glad she left but sad she lost her soccer career. Hopefully she is doing well.

    Those types of facts need to be tabulated and combined and sent in.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • June 15, 2014 at 5:09 am
    Permalink

    Folks,

    Case after case, in country after country, of child abuse, rape and sexual misconduct.

    This is the fruitage of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These vile acts against all that is good and kind are a searing indictment of the WTBTS and its deeply flawed policies.

    Politicians hate going against religions. It doesn’t look good and it can cost them votes. Good news, politicians! JWs don’t vote! I can think of no constituent that would complain about a politician pursuing justice for child abuse and rape victims. I strongly believe that we are beginning to see the beginnings of a proper response from the authorities at last.

    This case, coupled with the disgusting activities at New Moston, have forced the Charity Commission in the UK to investigate.

    It’s time to keep up the pressure. I tell everyone I meet and have a conversation with about the JW child abuse scandal. I am a teacher by trade, and I see it as my duty to inform people about this.

    So, spread the word! Tell people about what really happens at Bethel. Tell them about the two witness rule. Tell them about the “Shepherding the Flock of God” secret Elder’s manual.

    The more the general public hear about this, the better. The people I tell are shocked and yet, strangley, not really surprised. A religion so steeped in nonsense looks increasingly kooky to a ever more sophisticated modern world.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • June 15, 2014 at 5:38 am
    Permalink

    Hi all. I was brought up a JW from birth and I would like to firstly say that my parents brought me up to have great respect and morals towards others. After being disfellowshipped 5 years ago I took a step back to review my life whilst I was a JW. I found out that 2 of my best friends were peadophiles 1 of which was towards his sister. I even lived with one of them for 2 years and never knew! I let these men associate with my younger sister at family parties and it angers me that the elders knew about this and covered it up and never warned anyone! One of them even got “re-baptised” as his filthy antics happened at the time he got baptised! It seems like they are just making things up as they go along these days!

  • June 15, 2014 at 4:09 pm
    Permalink

    Religion is a drug. Methademic. Black Sabbath. Hallucinations of the GB.

  • June 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm
    Permalink

    I will not stand by a lie. X (big kisses:-). X

  • June 15, 2014 at 4:41 pm
    Permalink

    Death before dishonor.

  • June 15, 2014 at 9:47 pm
    Permalink

    Hey, any of you see the Canadian flick “Miraculum”. Semi-authentic depiction of Witnesses and the blood issue.

  • June 15, 2014 at 11:22 pm
    Permalink

    WOMEN vs ELDERS, always women are to blame and ELDERS are seduced. They are “congregation stars”!!

    Have a look on what is in Revelation Climax chap. 10 p. 49 par. 8 about Abhorring the “Deep Things of Satan”.

    “And I gave her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her fornication. Look! I am about to throw her into a sickbed, and those committing adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.” (Revelation 2:21, 22) Just as the original Jezebel apparently dominated Ahab and then defied God’s executioner, Jehu, so this female influence may be trying to manipulate husbands and elders. It seems that the elders in Thyatira are tolerating this immodest Jezebel influence. Jesus here sounds a strong warning for them, as well as for the global congregation of Jehovah’s people today. In modern times, some such strong-willed women have induced their husbands to become apostates and have even instigated court action against Jehovah’s faithful servants.—Compare Jude 5-8.

    Here, JWs Women are condemned and Elders are labelled “Jehovah’s faithful servants”!

    Finally, other HE-SHEEP apart from Elders are condemned, too.

    Par. 13 says:
    Those who have succumbed to this wrongful female influence will also suffer great tribulation—the sorrow of being disfellowshipped, cut off from the Christian congregation as though dead

    Conclusion: Brooklyn (crooklyn) protects Elders as SEX is a useful tool Elders controls families through women. A waken man will become an apostate as he takes elders to secular courts. This is the reason why Elders are “spiritually corrupt and morally bankrupt” !!

  • June 16, 2014 at 3:38 am
    Permalink

    @Hakizimana’s comment.
    That comment taken from the Revelation Climax book is the exact same kind of intimidation that the elders will use even against little girls if they come forward with a claim of molestation against an elder. The first time I was ever
    “felt up” was from a JW. I was 19 years old and was just only first attending meetings. He was always wanting me commit fornication and I was always fighting him off but after a while I started to like him. What does a little girl do when a man does that to her? I didn’t even know how to handle it. How could a little girl know what to do. I never told anybody about my experience with this young man until many, many years later because of the feelings of guilt that I felt over it even though he didn’t have his way with me. How could a little girl know what to do. Any child that comes forward with this kind of information is one of the bravest children in the world and what would the elders do with this information? Bring her before the accuser and make her “prove” it and if she can’t “prove” it, she is the one looked down as the perp. This organization is despicable!!!

  • June 16, 2014 at 5:41 am
    Permalink

    All the elder’s involved in this, or anyone who had something to do in the cover up should be took out to a tall oak tree. give them justice let them swing.

  • June 16, 2014 at 6:40 am
    Permalink

    @Cowboy.
    I believe the Governing Body should be held accountable and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society but I believe the majority of elders are misguided into thinking that once they pray that anything they say and do is being guided by God’s (Jehovah’s) spirit. They have been tricked into believing that Jehovah (God) is directing the Organization just the same as the rest of us were tricked into believing that God was directing the organization. Most elders have lost their lives to the organization the same as all the rest of the Witnesses who have grown old and died without seeing the realization of their hopes. I have pity for most of them. Even though it angers me that they can’t see the Organization for what it really is, they are between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they should be looking out for the flock that is in their care but on the other hand, they have been deluded into thinking that the organization is God’s organization and they have to obey the organization above all other things. If they have any doubts and look at “apostate” websites, they’d feel like hypocrites. If they do look at “apostate” websites and see the “truth” for what it really is, then they are put in the position of either leaving the organization and being labelled an apostate too or keeping it to themselves and being a hypocrite. Being an elder today, to me, would be the worst position in the world to be in. The rest of us can fade but can an elder? No. I feel sorry for them.

  • June 16, 2014 at 6:51 am
    Permalink

    to John Baptist,
    I agree with you on the power issue it goes to peoples heads. It happens in any organization whether they claim to have the truth or not. Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris and others all have fallen. The elders in the JWs are not immune to this. It is unfair pinpointing the JW’s though as it happens in all of society and always will.

  • June 16, 2014 at 9:14 am
    Permalink

    But JWs are the only organization that claims their god’s organization and refer to the rest as Satan’s system commonly call “bad system of things”!

    They claim high moral standards and say “jehovah’s organization must be clean” BUT forget that:

    (1 Samuel 2:22) . . .E′li was very old, and he had heard of all that his sons kept doing to all Israel and how they would lie down with the women that were serving at the entrance of the tent of meeting.

    Likewise, WTS is old and…

    *** w86 1/1 p. 13 par. 12 Days Like “the Days of Noah” ***
    Shocking as it is, even some who have been prominent in Jehovah’s organization have succumbed to immoral practices, including homosexuality, wife swapping, and child molesting. It is to be noted, also, that during the past year, 36,638 individuals had to be disfellowshipped from the Christian congregation, the greater number of them for practicing immorality. Jehovah’s organization must be kept clean!

  • June 16, 2014 at 10:08 am
    Permalink

    feeling sorry only go’s so far they could walk a way

  • June 16, 2014 at 10:34 am
    Permalink

    @Cowboy.
    Anybody can walk away but to “just” walk away is like being killed emotionally. The only way a person can just “walk away” is to have your entire support system listen to you and can see the Watchtower for what it is but everyone who surrounds us in the Watchtower organization have been brain washed and unfortunately, they think if you have gone “apostate” you are going to be killed at Armageddon and so your entire support system thinks that in order to save you through Armageddon, they must shun you. Elders are put in the worst position that way. I think most elders are sincere and really think that they are doing the right thing because they really believe God is directing them. One day, I hope something comes out to expose the Watchtower for what it is and it will be the elders who will feel the worst for their upholding decisions that they may have felt that they made that went against their consciences but felt forced to uphold because the Society made them do it. In the meantime, because of the Society’s being so adept at brainwashing, anybody who is brave enough to actually test the “Truth” and finds it to be not the “truth” after all, has to face the fact that almost everybody we try and talk to will look at us as having gone “mad” and that includes the elders and even our closest friends and family. They think they are doing the “loving” thing by shunning us. They think they are saving our lives. It’s the Watchtower Society who is to blame for all of this. Witnesses are under the spell of a very evil entity and they have no idea they are being “used” by it. They are to be pitied. Elders could spend their time with their families having fun times with them but instead are spending hour after endless hour, taking care of congregation needs and doing it for free. If it wasn’t for the elders, the Society would fall flat on it’s face and the Society knows this full well. Why do you think they want more and more elders in a congregation. It isn’t just to spread out the work. It is so that elders feel like “elders”. It gives them a sense of power and the Society uses this feeling to encourage men to get to be elders. The wives feel like elderettes and the kids feel superior to other kids who’s dads aren’t elders. I think a lot of young men reach out for position of elder because of the empowerment they feel when in the organization, there is no other way of achieving prominence. In our congregation, I see young men “groomed” by giving them more and more assignments on the school and in the congregation and I can see them becoming more and more arrogant. The sad thing is that they are doing it all for the praise of men. The hours they put in service and the hours they spend doing talks etc. is only for the praise of men. When the real truth comes out about the organization, they will feel the silliest. At least I hope so.

  • June 16, 2014 at 12:46 pm
    Permalink

    Cowboy!

    Enough with your “swing them from a tree” false justice.

    I’ve spoken to you about this before and I am mad as hell with you.

    Who’s next, Cowboy? Let’s kill people by dislocating their spinal columns from a tree. Well done!! Fantastic!! Who’s next? We start with people following the instructions given down from YOUR religion, and then let’s move on to……

    I’ve told you, you simpleton, the ends never justify the means.

    We have no death penalty in the United Kingdom. We have a hard won, open and independent Judicial system. These men can face trial by a jury of their peers, they can be sentenced to a custodial sentence, and, if required, they can be placed on the Sex Offender’s Register FOR LIFE.

    You want men to swing for following to the letter instructions that your religion told them to do. It is your religion’s leadership that has established and maintains a disgusting child protection policy. You, sir, are a hypocrite of the highest magnitude and I have no more words for you.

    Enough of you.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

  • June 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm
    Permalink

    Pedro,

    I agree, child molesters exist in all areas of society, unfortunately.

    However, very few areas of society have a child protection policy that effectively allows them “one bite” child abuse endless times, with the assurance that the authorities will not be informed.

    The WTBTS has a child protection policy that allows paedophiles to flourish. There are, sadly, hundreds of cases like this one in the past and at present in the WTBTS.

    Peace be with you

    Excelsior!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: