Jehovah Witnesses did nothing to stop my sex abuse nightmare ; Victim's
KEITH McLEOD EXCLUSIVE
Scottish Daily Record
Scottish Daily Record and
Sunday Mail Ltd
A TEENAGE GIRL has told how Jehovah's Witness elders failed to help
her nail her pervert father. Alison Cousins turned to the elders of
her family's church after devout dad Ian abused her for three years.
The elders knew Cousins had preyed on another girl. He confessed to
them two years earlier but police were not informed. Alison said she
was given no help or encouragement to get justice. She recalled yesterday:
"I was scared and confused. I needed courage to go to the police and
I spoke to the elders hoping they would back me up. "Instead, they brushed
it under the carpet.
"I got no encouragement to go to the police, even though my dad had
already told them what he did to the first girl.
"I will never have any faith at all in Jehovah's Witnesses."
Alison's abuse began when she was only 13 and continued until she was
16. She went to the elders of the Kingdom Hall in Stevenston, Ayrshire,
in November 1999. Alison, now 18, later found her own strength to report
her father. And Cousins, 43, was jailed for five years on Friday for
indecent acts involving Alison and two other girls.
One elder admitted yesterday that Cousins told them about his perversion
in 1997. Colin McCreadie said: "We were informed by Ian Cousins what
he had done with the first one. But he assured me that he did not do
anything after that. "We did discuss Alison's claims. But we decided
we would stand back, we were not sure.
"You don't know a person's heart, you don't know what's in there. What
is the truth? "I believe Alison was informed by the elders that she
should go to the police. I can't recollect who it was." One former member
of the congregation, Paul Wynn, said elders had tried to "whitewash"
the issue. And he told how he quit in disgust at being asked to forgive
Mr Wynn, 38, said: "Ian Cousins told elders in 1997 that he had abused
the first girl. But no one did anything about it, and because of this
the abuse of Alison continued. "I was told that I was not welcome at
the Kingdom Hall unless I could embrace Ian Cousins as my brother. "I
could not even look at him, never mind embrace him, after the disgusting
things he did. "
"Elders Alex Stewart and Colin McCreadie were told of the two eldest
victims but did nothing. "
"All that happened was that Cousins was demoted from his rank as a Ministerial
Servant, which is in effect a trainee elder."
Alison has waived her legal right to anonymity in the hope of saving
other girls from abuse. Asked about her case, elder Alex Stewart said:
"I do not know the outcome of the court case so I cannot comment." Since
the police were told about Ian Cousins in February 2000, a senior Jehovah's
Witness has arrived in Stevenston as Presiding Minister.
It's claimed Jonathan Briggs is a "troubleshooter"sent to bring stability
back to the congregation. Mr Briggs told the Record: "It is unfair to
ask questions of the individual elders. This is something which needs
a response from the church as a whole."
At the Jehovah's Witness Watchtower UK headquarters, spokesman Paul
Gillies said: "We have strict procedures and guidelines that matters
like this should go straight to the secular authorities. "It is the
role of the police to investigate. Our policies put the needs of victims
"There is already a new Presiding Minister at Stevenston. And if, as
a result of this case, it becomes apparent that elders are in need of
further direction, that will happen. The victims are in need of
love and understanding and that is what we want to offer them."
Police said the Kingdom Hall in Stevenston is not the subject of any