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Abuse at defunct sect was ‘worse than anybody realises’

AJ Willingham of BBC News writes about the British-based Jesus Army, also known as the Jesus Fellowship Church, which wound down operations in 2019 following public outcry following the revelation of “prolific” child abuse. The Northampton organization initially built a name for itself through “street evangelicalism,” working amount the homeless, ex-prisoners, and those struggling with drug addiction.

However, these activities masked over 160 confirmed cases of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse as children were denied toys, books, and television while being forced to attend weekly sessions where they would publicly confess faults to other members. 3,500 members lived isolated in Jesus Army community houses.

Jon Ironmonger continues:

In 1976, when Jackie Charley-Farrall was 11, her family moved into the Jesus Army headquarters at New Creation Hall, in Bugbrooke, near Northampton.

She is among some 160 people to have so far put in compensation claims under the redress scheme, which is being run by the JFCT.

“I want others to acknowledge that the experience I had was horrendous,” said Mrs Charley-Farrall, who has waived her right to anonymity.

“Overnight I felt like I lost my childhood – there were no toys, balls, bikes, or TV and radio. Even reading was frowned upon.

“Women had to show deference to men and we used to have excruciating weekly sessions of confessing our faults to one another.”

The Jesus Army disbanded in 2019 after the BBC revealed children suffered abuse “on a prolific scale”.

“In my early to mid-teens I was befriended by someone who held a respected position in the church and they ended up sexually abusing me,” Mrs Charley-Farrall said.

“It was over the course of several months and then I was blamed for it, and I felt ‘I’m never going to be able to trust anyone ever again’.

“It was not reported to the authorities and that was absolutely an omission and a lack of care shown by the leadership of the church.”

Read full article here.

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