'Rapist' Reverend Blames Holy Ghost for Church Sex Attacks
A church pastor accused of rape and sex attacks on seven members of his congregation claimed he was doing God’s work, a jury heard.
Rev John Wilson, 70, gave the women cups of tea possibly laced with drugs to put them into a trance before trying to exorcise ‘evil spirits’ and demons from their bodies.
His wife Mary, 79, and assistant pastor Laurence Peterson, 59, helped the self-styled holy healer commit the offences at the Liberty Pentecostal Church, in Keighley, a court heard.
Rev Wilson sexually abused the vulnerable and trusting women over 30 years, and his alleged victims include a mother and daughter, orphaned sisters and a fellow minister’s wife.
Wilson admits inserting his fingers inside many of the women to perform, what he termed ‘deliverances’ or ‘internal ministries’, but claims he was placing his hands where God directed him, to make them better Christians.
Prosecutor David McGonigal told the jury that Rev Wilson claimed he got no sexual satisfaction from inserting his fingers into the females, whose ages spanned from their teens to middle aged at the time of the offences, and said ‘it was the work of God’.
Wilson admitted his style of exorcism was not in the Holy Bible or written down anywhere, but told police the method came to him when the Holy Ghost spoke to him in church one day.
Mr McGonigal told the court:”This case is about the sexual assault of women in the name of religion.”
He said in 1981 Rev Wilson formed the Keighley Pentecostal Church, under the umbrella of the Assemblies of God organisation, with his friend Peterson as assistant pastor and his wife, who helped in services.
Bradford Crown Court heard that all of the complainants were part of the church congregation at some time and Rev Wilson told them they were possessed by evil spirits and demons.
Mr McGonigal said the pastor gained their trust and told them ‘God would show him how to help them.’
Rev Wilson later told police that he was amazed by how many women had evil spirits inside them, saying:”The amount of work that came his way around Keighley was unbelievable.”
The laying on of hands happened in the church, in his home and in the homes of the complainants.
His first two victims were orphaned sisters in their mid teens in the early 1980s.
Rev Wilson told the eldest girl her dead father’s ghost had spoken to him and asked him to look after her.
Mr McGonigal told the jury:”He said he had to touch her wherever the evil spirit was and God would tell him where to touch.”
He took her into the vestry and, as he prayed for her, touched her breasts and unbuttoned her blouse. When she pushed him away he told her it was the evil spirits fighting him. Peterson was also present in the room at the time.
Her younger sister explained being in a ‘trance-like’ state as she was sexually abused, a sensation felt by many of the victims. It is suggested cups of tea offered to them before the sessions began may have been drugged.
Some blacked out and came around naked or semi clothed, or were found wandering in a nearby park in just their bra and knickers.
The court heard he carried out ‘internal ministries’ on the youngest orphan every week for 10 years until she married aged 24 in 1996. He would shout ‘Come out in the name of Jesus’ as he sexually assaulted her.
On the final occasion Rev Wilson and Peterson locked her inside a bedroom with them whilst her new husband was outside.
Another victim was the daughter of a fellow Pentecostal church official. She wanted to be a missionary, but Rev Wilson told her parents and her that she was ‘riddled with demons’.
Adding he had ‘a special ministry to help people grow as Christains.’
The parents entrusted Rev Wilson with their daughter’s spiritual care.
Mary Wilson stripped her naked and pinned her down in the vestry as her husband carried out the deliverance.
The daughter moved in next door to the Wilsons and the reverend carried out an internal ministry every week.
On another occasion between 1985 and 1990 Rev Wilson told the daughter her demon needed love and he lay on top of her squeezing her breasts and nipples, telling her:”your body needs to be aroused so the demon comes out.” She could feel that he was sexually aroused.
Rev Wilson married a couple in the Liberty Pentecostal Church, but soon afterwards the wife came to him because she was having trouble in the marital bed. For eight years between January 1990 and December 1998 Rev Wilson tried to help her with her ‘sexual demons’, Mr McGonigal told the jury.
He would get her to perform oral sex on him and then ‘spit out’ the demons.
Rev Wilson is accused of raping the wife when he told her he was ‘pumping the demons out of her’ and that his ‘white juice’ would clean her up.
“A queen needs to be dethroned and God has made me a king, so I’m allowed to do this,” he told her.
In July 2014 police became involved. When Rev Wilson was questioned he admitted carrying out deliverances, but he was doing it for God and not for his own sexual gratification.
Rev Wilson, of Shann Avenue, Keighley, denies 25 counts of sexual assault, two rapes and four offences of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.
Peterson, of Eric Street, Keighley, denies three counts of aiding and abetting Rev Wilson commit sexual assault and three counts of conspiracy to commit indecent assault.
Mary Wilson, who lives at the same address as her husband, is accused of conspiring with him to commit sexual assault and also two charges of aiding and abetting him with a further two indecent assaults.
The alleged crimes took place between 1980 and 2010.
The trial continues.
- News Editor
- Keighley Local News