Church minister, 70, guilty of assaulting girls

Church minister: John Wilson, 70, is accused of 31 offences against seven women

Church minister: John Wilson, 70, is accused of 31 offences against seven women

A church minister who claimed God told him to 'go into the womb to release evil spirits' has been found guilty of sexually abusing six female worshippers at his church.

Rev John Wilson, 70, was convicted of indecent assaults against members of his congregation at Liberty Pentecostal Church, Keighley, West Yorkshire.

His wife Mary, 79, and his assistant pastor Laurence Peterson, 59, were also found guilty of helping him carry out the vile crimes.

Judge David Hatton QC sent Rev Wilson to immediate custody and warned him he faces a lengthy prison sentence.

Rev Wilson abused the vulnerable women over decades by claiming he was doing God's work by performing humiliating and degrading exorcisms.

He told his female victims that they were full of demons and evil spirits before sexually assaulting them.

A jury found him guilty of a string indecent assaults and further charges of conspiracy to commit sex assaults together with his wife, twice, and Peterson on five occasions.

The crimes took place between 1980 and 2010.

One victim and her husband has already received a £500,000 payout from the Assemblies of God religious organisation, the umbrella group under which Liberty Pentecostal Church operated, and now faces further civil claims for compensation from others.

A jury heard Rev Wilson sexually abused the vulnerable and trusting women over 30 years, and his victims include a mother and daughter, orphaned sisters and a fellow minister's wife.

Wilson admitted assaulting many of the women to perform, what he termed 'deliverances' or 'internal ministries', but claimed he was placing his hands where God directed him, to make them better Christians.

Prosecutor David McGonigal told the trial that Rev Wilson claimed he got no sexual satisfaction from assaulting the females, whose ages spanned from their teens to middle aged at the time of the offences, and said 'it was the work of God'.

Wilson admitted his style of exorcism was not in the Holy Bible or written down anywhere, but told police the method came to him when the Holy Ghost spoke to him in church one day.

Mr McGonigal told the court: 'This case is about the sexual assault of women in the name of religion.'

Mary Wilson,

John Wilson

Accused: Husband and wife John Wilson outside Bradford Crown Court, where they faces charges relating to the alleged indecent assault of women

He said in 1981 Rev Wilson formed the Keighley Pentecostal Church with his friend Peterson as assistant pastor and his wife, who helped in services.

Bradford Crown Court heard that all of the complainants were part of the church congregation at some time and Rev Wilson told them they were possessed by evil spirits and demons.

Mr McGonigal said the pastor gained their trust and told them 'God would show him how to help them.'

Rev Wilson later told police that he was amazed by how many women had evil spirits inside them, saying: 'The amount of work that came his way around Keighley was unbelievable.'

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