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Jesus Army accused of abuse cover-up in leaked report

Website: Christianity Today
Date: 08/08/2020
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A report leaked to the BBC claims that the abuse of women and children in the now-defunct Jesus Army was covered-up by senior members of the organisation.

Jesus Army was dissolved in May last year after six people from the controversial church were convicted that month over the assault of former members between the 1970s and 1990s.

A total of 10 people from Jesus Army have been convicted of sex offences.

At the time of its dissolution, trustees issued an apology for the abuse and announced the launch of a "listening and redress scheme" to be overseen by the Jesus Fellowship Community Trust (JFCT).

The report leaked by the BBC was based on the findings of a review carried out by an independent investigator, who accused five senior leaders of "inaction".

The review alleged a culture of "blaming victims" and "reinstating disgraced leaders", and claimed that the inaction of senior leaders allowed a convicted paedophile to remain "a risk within a community household until 2016 when social services threatened to take action".

The review recommended that further investigations be carried out into possible sexual, spiritual and financial abuse, and the "inappropriate punishment" of children.

Responding to the article, JFCT said it could not comment on the findings of the review but that it has reported the leak to the Information Commissioner's Office for infringing on the Data Protection Act and confidentiality of those involved in the investigation.

The trust said it had been planning to release a summary of the findings in due course.

"The purpose of the investigation was originally intended to be part of a disciplinary process, in which the five respondents were to be given an opportunity to present their own response to the findings of the investigation," it said in a statement.

"They have not had the opportunity to respond to the findings in the summary. However, despite this, JFCT believe it is right that the investigation's findings should be made known in an appropriate and lawful way, as was the intention from the outset."

The trustees reiterated their apology to victims.

"The trustees repeat our sincere apology, as we have before, to those who have been harmed as a consequence of actions or inactions by those in the Church," they said.

"The JFCT trustees acknowledge the trauma of victims and those who have had a negative experience of the Church.

"JFCT continues to work with victims to help bring closure and compensation through establishing a redress scheme, and through other means."