October 2017

Pervert ‘barred the escape’ of worshippers abused by minister at the Liberty Pentecostal church in Keighley

A MINISTER found guilty of assisting a church pastor in his “vile abuse” of female worshippers has been jailed for more than eight years.

Laurence Peterson, 59, conspired with John Wilson to commit assaults during “deliverance” sessions at the Liberty Pentecostal church in Keighley, with Wilson found to have abused women over a 26 year period from 1984 to 2010 in the church’s prayer room and at his home.

Judge David Hatton QC said that while he accepted Peterson had not personally assaulted any of the victims, he had done nothing to prevent them being “violated.”

John Wilson, 70, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, was jailed for 21 years last month after being found guilty of 14 charges of indecent assault, three of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and one of sexual assault following a six-week trial.

His wife, Mary Wilson, of the same address, was sentenced to 22 months in prison, suspended for two years, for two charges of aiding and abetting indecent assault.

Peterson, of Eric Street, Keighley, was found guilty of three charges of conspiracy to commit indecent assault and two charges of aiding and abetting indecent assault.

The jury heard that John Wilson told female parishioners he would “rid them of evil spirits” before sexually abusing them.

While sentencing the Wilsons, Judge Hatton had labelled the trio “false prophets” and “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.

Prosecutor David McGonigal told Bradford Crown Court today that the three victims connected to assaults involving Peterson had suffered long-lasting effects from the “abuse of his position of trust” within the church.

He said one still suffered nightmares of her ordeal, while another had been “brainwashed” and had her “life changed forever.”

Another victim was described as having suffered “severe psychological harm” thanks to John Wilson and Peterson’s actions, moving house on repeated occasions as she was “fearful” of meeting them again.

Caroline Goodwin QC, for Peterson, acknowledged her client was a “very naive and simplistic individual.”

She said: “He failed because he did not intervene, but he was not the prime mover”, a fact Judge Hatton said he “accepted.”

He told Peterson that he had aided John Wilson in his “dispicable criminality” by frequently “barring escape” for those receiving “ministry” from him, a process he described as involving “unspeakable violation of their bodies.”

He said: “You envisaged in these so-called prayer sessions that indecency without consent would be involved, and you were prepared to lend encouragement and assistance.

“You conspired with John Wilson to be part of this vile abuse.”

Peterson was jailed for eight years and two months. He was made subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and will be forced to sign the sex offenders register for life.