A WOMAN who was raped by a Jehovah's Witness elder in Barry has spoken out about her ordeal and her hopes for bringing legal action against the church.

The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is pursuing legal action against the Jehovah's Witness church alongside fellow victim and campaigner Karen Morgan in regards to their treatment in the aftermath of being abused by Mark Sewell, 53, who was jailed for 14 years in July for one count of rape and seven counts of sexual assault.

The pair are being represented by Kathleen Hallisey, the lawyer who represented American Candice Conti in a legal action against the Witnesses following years of childhood sexual abuse in California.

The woman, now in her 50s, was raped by Sewell at his home in the early 1990s having become friends with him and his family through the church.

Following the attack, she became pregnant but subsequently miscarried.

At the time she received an apology from Sewell, who cried and claimed he was drunk during the assault. She remained in the church for four more years before leaving, disillusioned with her treatment when it became clear that no action would be taken against Sewell.

Sewell was merely disfellowshipped from the congregation - in relation to his "attitude" and alcohol consumption - only to return a few years later.

Part of the problem was, as Sewell's niece Karen also experienced, the church's desire to first and foremost deal with allegations internally and also their "two witness" rule - a rule that states there has to be two witnesses to an offence, even in cases of sexual abuse, before action can be taken.

She added how the church had, at the time, refused to piece together different allegations against Sewell because one victim was a child and one was an adult - despite both allegations being sexual in nature.

An elder from the Barry congregation itself told Merthyr Crown Court during Sewell's June trial that all the documents relating to the internal investigation - conducted had been destroyed due to the passage of time.

Speaking about bringing her attacker to justice more than 20 years after he raped her, the woman said: "Leading up to the court case, that was probably the worst year of my life.

"I felt I had to do it though because I felt like at the time he had gotten away with it and he wasn't sorry.

"It was Karen and the other victims and their support that kept me going."

Even seeing Sewell jailed, didn't bring her the comfort or closure she desired, she said. His arrogant and defiant attitude while on the witness stand and outright refusal to accept any wrongdoing only served to open up old wounds and leave a bitter taste in her mouth.

Now she is hoping that legal action against the church may help bring some of the closure she desires, and perhaps even force the Jehovah's Witnesses to rethink their policies on how they deal with allegations of sexual offences within the church.

"They need to sit up and take notice. We're not just out to make trouble or a fast buck off them. We have been seriously, seriously damaged," she said.

"Because of the way they have acted and reacted to Mark's misdemeanours, somebody has to be held accountable".

The woman added that despite her experience she would implore any victims of sexual abuse within the church or otherwise to come forward and not suffer in silence.

The Jehovah's Witness church have publicly stated that they abhor sexual abuse and endeavour to provide their utmost support to any victims, and do not condone any attempts to shield abusers from the law.