Scottish girl abused by Jehovah’s Witness dad asked church for help – but was molested by trusted elder too

Cowering under her duvet at night, 11-year-old Angie prayed that God would keep her safe.

Sadly for the terrified youngster, the church she trusted were on the side of the very man who haunted her nightmares – her abusive father.

And shockingly, when she plucked up the courage to tell elders at the Jehovah’s Witness church what had happened, one of them went on to abuse her as well.

Now a mum of four, 36-year-old Angie Rodgers said: “I turned to the church for help and I was abused a second time. I was a child and they should have helped but instead they turned on me.

“They make me feel sick. I don’t think I’ll ever truly get over what happened to me. I’ve just learned to live with it.

 
Angie waived her anonymity in a bid to help other victims

“I have nightmares and flashbacks all the time and I’ve been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.”

Elder Harry Holt went on to abuse more children – despite the church allegedly knowing about what he had done to Angie.

Her dad Ian Cousins was jailed for five years in 2002 for abusing her.

But justice only caught up with evil Holt last year, when he was caged for attacks on eight children dating back four decades.

The Jehovah’s Witness community have been savaged over their child protection policies in the past.

The sect deal with child abuse cases within the church, regarding it as a sin rather than a criminal offence.

Angie was abused by her father from the age of 11 on almost a weekly basis.

 
Elder Harry Holt was jailed last year for abusing young girls

She said: “Dad did it whenever he got the chance, even when I was ill.

“It started one night when I was just 11. I was asleep when I woke up to him touching me.

“Once, I was throwing up with gastric flu when dad brought me home a fluffy bunny with a peachy white floral dress and bloomers.

“My mum went off to the Kingdom Hall and my dad scooped me up in his arms from the couch.

“I thought he was going to settle me in bed but instead he took me to his room and molested me.

“I prayed that mum would come and save me but she never did.

“After that, he used to try to touch me whenever we were alone. It got worse and worse.

“We went to a church convention when I was about 14 and he tried to rape me in a tent. He was only interrupted when an elder who was looking for him shouted at him from outside.”

 
Angie was just 11 when thje abuse started

Angie was 15 when she eventually confided in a friend whose father was a church leader in a different congregation.

Cousins, now 55, was called into the church , who hold their own “judicial meetings” to decide punishment for abusers.

Angie was quizzed by three male elders, including Holt, who was known as “Uncle Charlie” to children at the Kingdom Hall in Stevenston, Ayrshire. They asked her intimate questions about the abuse.

She recalled: “They even asked what I’d been wearing away from the Kingdom Hall, as if it was my fault.

“It was excruciating. As a young girl, I’d heard stories from the Bible about Lot having sex with his daughters and I was so confused I didn’t even know if it was right to have relations with my dad.”

Jehovah Witnesses follow the Bible to the letter and guidelines state that elders aren’t authorised by the scriptures to take action unless “there is a confession or there are two credible witnesses’.

They also allow members to return to the same church if they show repentance for their sins. Elders admonished Cousins for his actions and he was allowed to remain in the church.

The abuse abruptly stopped. But seven months later, Holt turned on Angie after they hit the streets trying to recruit new members to the church.

She said: “It wasn’t unusual to go back to Holt’s house for something to eat after knocking doors but this time his wife was away abroad on holiday.

“He put on Braveheart and we watched the film for a bit, then he said he needed to get washed before taking me back home.

“It just got to the bit in the film when Murron gets her head chopped off by the English soldiers when Harry came out of the shower and into the living room. He only had a towel wrapped around his waist.

“He asked me, ‘Are you tickly’, and tried to touch me.

“I said I needed to go home because mum was waiting for me.

“I was so relieved to get out of there but on the way home in the car he grabbed my leg and felt his way up towards my underwear.”

Despite having been abused by her father, Angie found the courage to tell her parents what had happened.

A meeting was held in her home with Holt and his wife.

Angie, who still lives in Ayrshire, said:“She sobbed when she heard what went on. I felt sorry for her and a bit guilty but I knew what had happened was wrong.”

Holt was later stripped of his privileges as an elder and he and his wife moved to Edinburgh, where a court last year heard he went on to abuse more children.

Angie finally found the strength to make a police complaint about her father in 2000, when a second girl told officers she had been abused by him.

Cousins was jailed for five years in 2002 for indecent acts on his daughter and two other girls.

Angie turned her back on the church at the age of 19 and started a new life.

But the religion encourages members to shun people who leave the Kingdom Hall, so her mother stopped speaking to her for six years, even ignoring her daughter in the street.

Devoted mum Angie said: “It was really hurtful.

“When I fell pregnant with my first child in 2000, I wanted to ask mum if she’d had morning sickness, like me, or how long the heartburn lasted, but she just wasn’t there. She didn’t meet her first two grandchildren until she finally, slowly, drew away from the church when they were five and three.”

As Angie concentrated on her growing family, she put the assault by Holt to the back of her mind. But in 2014 police officers knocked on her door asking if he had ever abused her.

Another of his victims, who knew her, had made a complaint and Angie decided “enough was enough” and made a statement against him.

Last February, Holt, 71, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after being convicted of attacks against eight girls between May 1971 and August 2004.

The retired engineer assaulted one girl while questioning her about the Bible and morality. He later officiated at her wedding.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how he went on to sexually attack seven more girls – the youngest aged nine – after Jehovah Witnesses failed to report him to police.

Angie said: “Holt claimed in court that all his victims had conspired against him to make up lies but I only knew of one of the girls.”

A jury saw through his flimsy lie and Holt was convicted of 11 charges of indecent assault and lewd and libidinous behaviour.

Today, Angie has reunited with her mum and is determined to help other church victims by telling her story.

She said: “If it helps just one young woman – or boy – go to the police then it will have been worth it.

“What’s happened to me is horrendous but I’m trying to move on with my life – or otherwise my abusers have won.”

In 2015, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were ordered to pay £275,000 in compensation to a child sex abuse victim in the first case against the church in the UK.

The woman was abused aged four in Bible study classes and the religion’s governing body were ordered in court to bear legal responsibility.

The group have come under increasing pressure to address their handling of sexual abuse allegations and face a fight to prevent the Charity Commission examining their records of abuse claims.

The church refused to be drawn on specific details of Angie’s case, claiming meetings between elders and members were confidential.

In a statement, they 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.

“For decades, our journals The Watchtower and Awake!, as well as our website, have featured articles on how to protect children from abuse.

“We do not separate children from their parents and have no programmes such as Sunday schools, youth groups or day care centres in which we take custody of children from their parents.

“We believe that loving and protective parents are the best deterrent to child abuse. Thus, we continue to educate parents and provide them with the valuable tools to help them educate and protect their children.”

The statement said any abuse victim or their parents had the “absolute right” to report crimes to police.

It added that elders provided “abuse victims and their families with spiritual comfort from the Bible”.

It said such “shepherding” was confidential, which is why they do “not comment on whether elders have currently or have formerly met to assist any member of the congregation”.

The statement continued: “Congregation elders do not shield abusers from the authorities or from the consequences of their actions. Anyone who commits the sin of child abuse faces expulsion from the congregation.

“Any suggestion that Jehovah’s Witnesses cover up child abuse is false.”

http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/girl-abused-jehovahs-witness-dad-10370979  https://archive.is/doSIr

2 thoughts on “Scottish girl abused by Jehovah’s Witness dad asked church for help – but was molested by trusted elder too

  1. Sounds totally authentic and in character for a totally out of control religion. I was one many years ago, 1979-1989. And they are far worse now than then.

    Liked by 1 person

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