Wife defends church elder in sexual abuse case

THE Jehovah's Witness elder on trial for a ten year campaign of sexual abuse against girls and women has been described as an "honest, kind and trustworthy" man by his defence.

Earlier this week the trial at Merthyr Crown Court heard from the the wife of Mark Sewell, who said that she did not believe her husband was guilty.

Beautician Mary Sewell said that although her marriage had seen periods of extreme difficulty, in which both had cheated, they had remained together. She told the court that she did not see her husband as a controlling man and was certain he was innocent of the charges against him.

Mark Sewell, 54,of Porthkerry Road, Barry denies charges including sexual assaults against girls under the ages of 14 and 16 and one charge of rape against a fellow church goer all alleged to have taken place over ten years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

One witness had told the court that Sewell would kiss her on the mouth using his tongue from the ages of 12 to 14. In one incident he forcefully removed her underwear while in her bedroom.

Another witness told the jury how Sewell would give her inappropriate topless massages when she was a teenager and another how Sewell had locked her in his car against her will and propositioned her for sex.

Another witness alleges she was raped by Sewell at his home, after which she became pregnant. She miscarried some time later.

As a result of allegations at the time Sewell was forced to leave the Barry congregation where he was a prominent elder. He rejoined the Jehovah's Witnesses shortly afterwards at a different congregation in Llantwit Major.

The three week trial began drawing to a close today (Tuesday, June 24) with the jury expected to start deliberations following the judges summing up tomorrow.

In her closing speech Sarah Waters, prosecuting, said that Sewell was a man driven by sexual motives with a history of using his position in the church to "push boundaries" with women and girls.

"The defendant is a very unfortunate individual indeed," she said. "If it is the case that four separate females have all decided to come to the police, put themselves through the ordeal of being cross examined in court just to tell serious and malicious lies against him.

"This is a man who is powerful and is not afraid of using his position of power."

Marian Lewis, defending, has said that each of the alleged victims are acting on various vendettas and grievances against Sewell.

She said that contrary to being a bully and a predator, as the prosecution claim, Sewell was a honourable man.

She told the jury: "You have heard what his wife of many years has said about him, what other family members who spoke to you on his behalf said about him, what his business partner said, indeed even the prosecution witnesses.

"All these people have told you what sort of person he is. Honest, kind and trustworthy.

"A man who would go the extra mile for you.

"Kissing people on the lips is not an offence. Being flirtatious is not a criminal offence. Being touchy feely isn't criminal or necessary sexual".

She added that the defence believes the jury should have "grave concerns about the quality, consistency and reliability of the evidence" presented by the prosecution witnesses.

The trial continues.

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