September 2002

Sally Army man jailed for sex abuse

A Salvation Army youth leader has been jailed for four years for sex assaults on four teenagers at church-run camps.

Mark Molden, 24, was convicted of indecently assaulting girls aged between 13 and 17 during camping trips.

Molden, from Bargoed in Caerphilly, south Wales, had pleaded guilty to one charge but denied nine other offences.

After a 10-day hearing at Cardiff Crown Court a jury found him not guilty of two charges but guilty of seven charges of indecent assault.

The court heard that a number of assaults took place on “woodland worship walks” during camps run between 1997 and 2001 in Symond’s Yat in Gloucestershire.

One victim, aged 17, said how Molden had put his hands on her breast as she emerged from a cave.

She told the jury: “There were other girls and I noticed that all of them apart from one had handprints on their breasts as well.”

On another occasion, the court heard how Molden forced a girl to perform a sexual act on him.

Judge David Wynn Morgan told Molden: “You are an arrogant, insensitive, immature young man with a high opinion of yourself.

“You have brought shame and embarrassment on one of the most distinguished and respected Christian organisations in the country.”

“Under the screen of authority, you took advantage of their bodies and feelings as you pleased.

“Your intention was to abuse their trust and infatuation to obtain perverted sexual gratification. “

In his defence Molden accused his victims of making up “silly little lies”.

“I’m not being big headed, but a lot of the girls fancied me,” he told the jury.

Molden, a group leader on the courses, had admitted carrying out one indecent assault on a girl aged 15.

He drove her home at the end of the course and kissed her before carrying out at an indecent assault – he was later arrested.

Molden was ordered to register as a sex offender indefinitely and was banned form working with children.

Salvation Army spokesman Alan Sage said after the case: “A breach of trust was clearly committed by Molden.

“The Salvation Army deplores all such behaviour and abuse of position.”