Keighley church minister faces long prison sentence for sexually abusing women over two decades.
A church minister who sexually abused six vulnerable women has been warned by a judge he faces “a very substantial” prison sentence.
Pastor John Wilson, 70, carried out a series of indecent assaults under the pretext of being commanded by God to rid the complainants of evil spirits.
The sexual abuse took place over more than two decades while Wilson served at the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Keighley.
Following a trial lasting more than a month Wilson, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, was today found guilty on more than a dozen charges of indecent assault and further allegations of sexual assault and conspiracy to commit indecent assault after the jury deliberated for about 15 hours.
The abuse was said to have taken place between the mid-1980s and 2010 with victims, who cannot be identified, being assaulted during one-to-one “deliverance sessions”.
At the start of the trial in July prosecutor David McGonigal told the jury that the case involved sexual abuse “in the name of religion”.
“John Wilson was purporting to rid the women of evil spirits by sexually touching them,” he said.
“It is the prosecution’s argument that he was doing for his own sexual gratification.
“They were taken under the wing of Mr Wilson and he would blame the abuse on evil spirits inside of them. These were vulnerable women.”
Wilson’s wife Mary, 79, was also convicted on two charges of aiding and abetting him to commit indecent assault while his assistant Laurence Peterson, 59, of Eric Street, Keighley, was found guilty on similar aid and abet charges and further allegations of conspiring with Wilson to commit indecent assault.
At the end of the prosecution case Judge David Hatton QC directed the jury to find Wilson not guilty of rape and sexual abuse charges in relation to a seventh complainant.
The woman, who along with the other six complainants cannot be identified for legal reasons, had claimed that she had “a flashback” of herself lying on the floor like a rag doll with Pastor Wilson moving on top of her.
She alleged that the rape took place at his home, but also described the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Keighley as “a freaky church”.
After hearing legal submissions Judge Hatton concluded that Wilson could not be properly or safely convicted on her evidence.
The judge remanded Wilson into custody to await his sentence on September 28.
His wife, who has mobility problems and other medical issues, and Peterson, were both granted conditional bail to the same date for the preparation of reports about them.
A WOMAN recalled being raped by her church minister in a late-night flashback that left her in tears with her heart pounding, a jury heard.
August 14th 2017
The witness said she suddenly saw herself lying on the floor like a rag doll with Pastor John Wilson moving on top of her.
She told Bradford Crown Court she attended the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Sunderland Street, Keighley.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claims Wilson raped her at his home during a private prayer session.
Wilson, 70, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, is accused of sexually abusing seven women to rid them of evil spirits.
He denies 31 charges, including two of raping the woman, 23 indecent assaults, four of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and a sexual assault.
His wife Mary Wilson, 79, also of Shann Avenue, denies two counts of aiding and abetting indecent assault and one charge of conspiring to commit indecent assault.
Church pastor Laurence Peterson, 59, of Eric Street, Keighley, is charged with four counts of aiding and abetting indecent assault and three counts of conspiring to commit indecent assault.
The alleged abuse took place between 1984 and 2010.
The rape complainant said some churchgoers cut themselves during the services and a man once put a blade to Pastor Wilson’s neck and dragged him from the room.
The woman said the congregation was split into different groups. There were “the slicers and dicers”, the grandmothers, the youths and the young married couples.
The rape complainant said it was “a freaky church” where she saw people shouting and screaming and cutting their own bodies.
The woman said she had self-harmed and taken an overdose since attending the church.
She had been treated by mental health professionals and received counselling.
Jo Sidhu, John Wilson’s barrister, referred in cross-examination to a journal the woman kept in which she said people might drink blood or make sacrifices at the church.
“Did people drink blood and sacrifice humans and animals in Pastor Wilson’s church?” he asked her.
“I don’t think so, no,” the witness replied.
Mr Sidhu suggested that she had “a graphic imagination” and had struggled with “imagining thoughts”.
The trial continues.
A WOMAN has told a jury how she “kicked out” at the “private parts” of a church minister after he groped her over her skirt during a “healing” session at his home.
Now aged in her 80s, the alleged victim, who cannot be named, told Bradford Crown Court that she had travelled to the home of Pastor John Wilson, 70, and his wife, Mary, 79, at some point in the mid-1980s, when she was in her late 40s.
The woman told the court that she sat on a pillow on the floor of the house as John Wilson prayed for her, with Mary Wilson, Laurence Peterson, 59, and her husband also present, but at the far side of the room.
Describing the alleged incident, she said: “It was very brief. I managed to struggle to my feet and said ‘that’s enough, I’m leaving’.”
John Wilson, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, who ran a Pentecostal group in Keighley and Shipley, denies sexually abusing seven women to rid them of evil spirits. He pleads not guilty to 31 allegations, including two of rape, 24 of indecent assault, four of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and one charge of sexual assault.
He denies 11 charges of indecent assault and one of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.
Mary Wilson, of the same address, pleads not guilty to two charges of indecent assault and a single allegation of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.
Peterson, of Eric Street, Keighley, denies three charges of indecent assault and four allegations of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.
Jo Sidhu, for John Wilson, said: “You believe you kicked out and hit him in the private parts because he groaned?”, to which the woman replied: “Yes.”
Asked whether her husband had made any attempt to intervene at any point during the alleged incident, the woman said: “No. He seemed to be frozen to the spot.”
Mr Sidhu put it to the woman that she had travelled “hundreds of miles” to see the Wilsons in a bid to seek help for health issues, specifically for gynaecological problems.
The woman agreed that John Wilson had briefly pressed around the area of her groin with an open hand, but disputed Mr Sidhu’s assertion that he had touched her in that way to try and help with her medical complaint.
He said: “He was simply touching you in the area of your body where the problems lay.”
In reply, she said: “If he intended to do that, he should have spoken about it first. It was very humiliating.”
Mr Sidhu asked her: “Do you feel that your perception of what you say happened, looking back, has been affected negatively, and that now you may look back at things differently?”
In response, the woman said: “I can’t say that. As far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t have happened.”