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Jesus Army compensation a 'form of justice, says lawyer

Website: BBC News
Date: 04/10/2022
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A lawyer representing survivors of abuse at the now-defunct Jesus Army said a compensation scheme would offer "some form of justice".

In 2019, ex-members told the BBC how children suffered abuse on a "prolific scale", with most claims relating to incidents between the 1970s and 1990s.

The Jesus Fellowship Church Trust (JFCT) has now set up a compensation scheme.

"People are entitled to that justice," lawyer Kathleen Hallisey said.

The Jesus Army was a religious movement that sprang up in Northamptonshire in the 1970s.

At its peak, it had more than 2,000 members, hundreds of whom lived together in communal houses throughout central England.

Ms Hallisey, of Hugh James Solicitors, has worked with a number of survivors after first being contacted by a former member whose entire family had been involved in the Jesus Army.

Since then, she said she has been told hundreds of stories of abuse.

She has urged anyone affected to come forward and claim compensation through the scheme.

People can claim if they were victims of abuse, if they suffered trauma due to rules within the group or if they were employed by Jesus Army businesses and suffered shortfalls in National Insurance pension or other retirement benefits .

She said in many cases people were not properly paid but instead money was "paid into a common purse".

She said: "What modern day justice looks like, it is compensation and people are entitled to that, they are entitled to justice."

Several men have been sentenced for the indecent and sexual assault of victims.

It dissolved itself in 2019 after the BBC revealed hundreds of former members were seeking damages for alleged sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

The BBC exposed allegations of abuse on a "prolific scale" including rapes, "brainwashing" and the brutal or sexualised beating of young children by groups of men.

In 2020, a leaked report found abuse was covered up by senior members of the religious sect.

In a statement on its website, the JFCT said the scheme "offers fair redress to those who have suffered harm, abuse and/or adverse experiences within the Jesus Fellowship community".