Yorkshire church minister sexually abused seven women 'to rid them of evil spirits', court told

Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court

A church minister raped and sexually abused seven vulnerable women to "rid them of evil spirits", a court heard.

John Wilson, 70, allegedly told one victim: "Queens need to be dethroned, God has made me a king so I am allowed to do this" before raping her.

On another occasion he told a victim that if she had evil spirits in her he would need to "go into the womb to release them", it was said.

Wilson is accused of carrying out the attacks during one-to-one prayer 'deliverance' sessions at church and at the homes of his victims - the youngest aged just 13.

Opening the prosecution at Bradford Crown Court, David McGonigal QC said: "This case involves the sexual abuse of seven women in the name of religion.

"John Wilson was purporting to rid the women of evil spirits by sexually touching them.

"It is the prosecutions argument that he was doing it for his own sexual gratification.

"It is our argument that he was sexually assaulting them.

"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."

The alleged abuse was carried out between 1984 and 2010 at the homes of the victims and at the Liberty Pentecostal Church in Keighley, West Yorks.

A police investigation commenced in July 2014 when one of the victim's husbands called the police.

Mr McGonegal added: "The first victim of the indecent assault had moved to the area that the church was located in after the death of her parents.

"She confided in Wilson and said that she felt ready to trust someone.

"Wilson invited her to individual prayers on a one on one basis.

"He said to her he had to touch her wherever the evil spirit was and god would tell him where to touch.

"He started to touch her breasts and unbuttoned her blouse.

"You may notice that the blaming of evil spirits is a common feature in this case."

Mr McGonegal told the court that Wilson remembered the victim and that she had a "lot of evil spirits" and that he had undone her bra when he was questioned by police.

The court heard that another victim was told by Wilson that he would "have to go deeper and inwardly to where the demon was to get it out of her" before he put his hand up her skirt.

He asked another victim if she had been "broken yet" and would shout "come out in the name of Jesus" while the abuse took place.

Mr McGonegal also said that Wilson told police he could hear "the noises of pigs" inside another victim and needed to get them out.

He repeatedly told police that he got no sexual satisfaction from the 'deliverances'.

Wilson said sometimes spirits would tear the clothes off his victims and that they would be naked because of the spirits, the court heard.

He denies 31 counts against seven females including 23 indecent assaults, four conspiracy to commit indecent assaults, two rape charges and one sexual assault.

His wife Mary Wilson, 79, is charged with two counts of aiding and abetting indecent assault and one charge of conspiring to commit indecent assault.

The prosecution allege that she knew about the abuse and aided Wilson on three separate occasions.

Church pastor Laurence Peterson, 58, is charged with four counts of aiding and abetting indecent assault and three counts of conspiring to commit indecent assault.

It is alleged that Peterson, an assistant to Wilson while he was minister at the church, knew about the abuse over a long period of time.

Many of the victims reported to black out during the abuse after being given a drink by Peterson but the prosecution said that there was no scientific link between these events.

The trial continues.