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Source : 07/04/1997 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

A teenage girl was sexually abused for three years by a member of the controversial Jesus Fellowship, based in Bugbrooke.

The girl, now 19 years old, was born into the evangelical religious movement and brought up as a Jesus Army child, together with her five brothers and sisters.

On Friday she was in court when a jury unanimously found a church member guilty of three counts of in indecent assault against her.

The jury at Isleworth Crown court in London had heard how she was sexually assaulted by the man after her family moved from the Fellowship in Bugbrooke to a spin-off Jesus Army commune in Acton, London.

Speaking exclusively to the Chronicle and Echo after the case, the girl, who now lives in Northampton, said: 'I lost my whole childhood to the Jesus Fellowship. We weren't allowed toys or to play games and were treated like mini adults from birth.'

'When the abuse started I was 13. After three years of misery I decided enough was enough and went to the police.'

'I was told by the elders I would be damned if I left.'

The Jesus Fellowship, also known as the Jesus Army, was started in Northamptonshire by Noel Stanton, a former minister at Bugbrooke Baptist Church.

It owns many properties including the former Cornhill Hotel in Pattishall and its membership stretches all over the world.

The girls family has now left the church after 20 years.

In a statement to the Chronicle and Echo, Jesus Fellowship spokesman John Campbell said: 'The church upholds the generally-accepted standards of Christian morality, which is to say we do not condone what happened. We are acutely aware of the dangers of child sexual abuse and produced a set of guidelines concerning child protection for the use of parents and leaders within the church. These guidelines are undergoing review in the light of this case.'

The man is due to be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on May 16.