Jehovah’s Witness elder abused young girl while taking her round to preach the bible
An elder member of a Jehovah’s Witness congregation has been jailed for subjecting a girl to years of sexual abuse.
Thomas Brian Jenkins, 74, denied repeatedly indecently assaulting the girl in the 1970s but was found guilty by a jury at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court after an hour’s deliberation.
The court heard the abuse began when the girl was 12 years old and continued until she was 14 when she would make excuses to avoid him.
But she claimed after reporting Jenkins’ behaviour to other elders in the congregation, including a former policeman, they “laughed” in her face.
Giving evidence during the trial the woman, who is now in her 50s, said Jenkins would take her and her brother on “door-to-door” missions to rural properties in the Powys countryside.
After parking at the end of a lane or driveway Jenkins would send her brother to “preach the faith” so he could force his hands up the schoolgirl’s skirt – taking advantage of the religion’s ban on women wearing trousers.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Jenkins, of Landor Road, Redditch, Worcester, would also would try to get his fingers inside her costume under the water at Brecon swimming pool during group outings.
Sentencing the former builder, judge Daniel Williams described Jenkins’ “breathtaking arrogance” compared to the “courage” of his victim.
He said: “You would contrive events as to be alone with [the girl] in the car.
“On other occasions members of the congregation would go swimming in the public baths in Brecon.
“There you made a beeline for [the girl]. It would of course seem to others that you would be innocently playing with [her].
“[She] lives with the consequences of your actions every day of her life.
“The contrast between her courage giving evidence and your breathtaking arrogance could not have been greater.”
In a personal impact statement summarised in court the woman said Jenkins’ actions had left her with a fear of social events and public swimming pools.
She said: “I suffer, I always will, as I cannot un-know what I know.
“No-one would listen to me, much less believe or support me.
“I cannot go swimming in public pools as the sounds, the smells, everything, transports me back.
“I end up cancelling more social events than I actually attend.”
She added: “I am not what he did to me – it should not dictate who I am but it does dictate how I am.
“I cannot take anti-depressants as they make me feel worse. I have no choice but to live with it.”
During her evidence the woman criticised the religion’s governing bodies for dealing with sexual abuse “in house”.
She said: “I’m angry at Jehovah’s Witness elders and the governing body for the lack of protection they provide to children.
“There is no safeguarding. They do not report it to the authorities because they want to deal with it in house.”
Summarising Jenkins’ evidence, Judge Williams said the elder had denied abusing the girl and denied attending the swimming pool used for Jehovah’s Witness outings.
When asked if he had taken her for door-to-door missions, he said: “For the life of me I cannot remember even one occasion.
“There is so much fabrication.
“[The woman] has a complete grudge against Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
The court heard Jenkins was previously convicted of a series of sex offences against three girls at Worcester Crown Court in 1990.
Addressing his past conviction, he said: “I had a nervous breakdown. I was not aware of what I was doing.
“I knew what I was doing was wrong but I had no control over it.”
Jenkins was initially charged with 20 counts of indecent assault but they were reduced to six counts on the third day of his trial.
He was found guilty of all six charges.
Judge Williams sentenced to five years imprisonment. Jenkins will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.