July 2002

Jehovah’s Witness jailed for abusing boys

An elder in the Jehovah’s Witness church has been jailed for child abuse.

James Barratt, 45, of Rugby, Warwickshire, a married man with two children, was found guilty of indecently assaulting two teenagers entrusted to him for Bible studies and counselling.

The court heard that Barratt, a church elder, had “systematically” abused two former members of his congregation over a 10-year period.

Warwick Crown Court heard that Barratt, a trusted friend of the boys’ families, had used Bible lessons and counselling sessions as an opportunity to indecently assault the teenagers.

Throughout the four-day trial Barratt maintained that he had tried to be a father figure to the boys.

Sentencing him, Judge James Pike said he had been entrusted with vulnerable young people. He was, he said, an arch-hypocrite.

Barratt was jailed for two years with 12 months suspended. He will be put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Detective Inspector Jim Hill of Warwickshire Police: “I consider him to be an extremely dangerous individual. His approach to the victims was via the parents.

“He formed a very strong bond with the families and clearly he has gone on to abuse that trust.”

One of his victims, Gordon Grant, now 23 , said he had been disappointed by the church’s reaction to the allegations.

“If people have got this problem don’t go to the elders or the leaders of the church. Don’t bother with them.

“Go straight to police and get it dealt with by people who are experienced and know what they are doing.”