Jan 15, 2016

Jehovah's Witnesses accused of covering up historic sex abuse

By Agency Reporter
December 29, 2015

A Jehovah's Witness who strangled young girls for sexual gratification has finally been jailed after his crimes were covered up by the congregation at his church for more than two decades.

Ian Pheasey, 54, went unpunished for more than 25 years after his activities were "swept under the rug" by the church he attended.

A court heard that Pheasey first attacked a seven-year-old girl while he was working as a volunteer librarian at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, in Warwick, in the 1990s.

Pheasey was eventually caught after another of his victims went to the police after learning Pheasey was working at a hospice. Pheasey was arrested in October 2014 and charged with offences between 1989 and 1994.

Last Wednesday, Pheasey was jailed for five years after he pleaded guilty to assaulting one girl causing her actual bodily harm and indecently assaulting two others.

Sentencing at Warwick Crown Court, Judge Richard Griffith-Jones said: "You obtain sexual gratification from the idea of strangling children.

"That is a hideous and discomfiting fantasy, and one which has given me some concern when I come to sentence you.

"One of the most serious features is that strangulation creates a risk of causing very serious injury and death.

"So it's not simply a matter of it being frightening and disgusting that small children have been made to suffer in this way, it's the risk they would suffer something even more catastrophic."

Prosecutor, Nicholas Taplow told the court that Pheasey first struck when a young girl went to get a book from the Kingdom Hall library.

His second victim was a 14-year-old girl who he grabbed around the neck and threw to the floor where he straddled her and squeezed her neck.

The court heard she fell into unconsciousness, came round but then passed out again before coming round for a second time and crying out: "Jehovah help me!"

He calmly told her that he would kill her if she told anyone, adding that if she grew up and had daughters he would rape them as well.

She ran home screaming and crying and told her mother what happened - only to be told to clean herself up before she was taken to hospital for the bruising to her neck.

Mr Taplow added: "Sadly her parents chose to conceal the sexual nature of the incident and told her not to say anything about it.

"They continued to understate the seriousness of the assault, and the matter was swept under the carpet by the church."

Pheasey's third victim was just six when he was carrying out some work at her parents' home.

The court heard as she sat in his van, he got in and began to tickle her before moving his hand up under her skirt - but stopped when she kicked out and screamed.

Following his arrest Pheasey said he could not remember the incident in the library, but admitted he had put his hands round the girl's neck on more than one occasion.

He confessed to fantasising about strangling the 14-year-old, and had lured her over with the intention of strangling her and becoming sexually aroused.

Mr Taplow said: "He was a man who had a particular sexual fascination with the act of strangulation.

"He derived sexual gratification from strangling children, and many children were strangled in this way by him during what he described as 'horseplay'."

Nick Devine, defending, said: "The inevitable lengthy sentence of imprisonment will have devastating consequences for him, going to prison at his age for an offence of this nature.

"It may be that, while the congregation of the Jehovah's Witnesses can be criticised for how they dealt with it, it has at least acted on him in part to prevent a return to acting out the fantasies he had."

Pheasey, of Warwick, was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life and given a sexual harm prevention order restricting his contact with children.

A spokesman for the Jehovah's Witnesses said the church deplored Pheasey's behaviour and denied it was involved in a cover up of his crimes.

The spokesman said: "Jehovah’s Witnesses abhor child abuse, and view it as a heinous crime and sin. The safety of our children is of the utmost importance.

"Any suggestion that Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child abuse is absolutely false. We are committed to doing all we can to prevent child abuse and to provide spiritual comfort to any who have suffered from this terrible sin and crime."


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