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Dad's Jehovah Witnesses Did Nothing to Stop My Sex Abuse Nightmare; Victim's Agony Claims

KEITH McLEOD EXCLUSIVE

01/15/2002
Scottish Daily Record
Streets
Page 13
Copyright 2002 Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail Ltd.

A TEENAGE GIRL has told how Jehovah's Witness elders failed to help her nail her pervert father.

Alison Cousins turned to the elders of her family's church after devout dad Ian abused her for three years.

The elders knew Cousins had preyed on another girl. He confessed to them two years earlier but police were not informed.

Alison said she was given no help or encouragement to get justice.

She recalled yesterday: "I was scared and confused. I needed courage to go to the police and I spoke to the elders hoping they would back me up.

"Instead, they brushed it under the carpet.

"I got no encouragement to go to the police, even though my dad had already told them what he did to the first girl.

"I will never have any faith at all in Jehovah's Witnesses."

Alison's abuse began when she was only 13 and continued until she was 16.

She went to the elders of the Kingdom Hall in Stevenston, Ayrshire, in November 1999.

Alison, now 18, later found her own strength to report her father. And Cousins, 43, was jailed for five years on Friday for indecent acts involving Alison and two other girls.

One elder admitted yesterday that Cousins told them about his perversion in 1997.

Colin McCreadie said: "We were informed by Ian Cousins what he had done with the first one. But he assured me that he did not do anything after that.

"We did discuss Alison's claims. But we decided we would stand back, we were not sure.

"You don't know a person's heart, you don't know what's in there. What is the truth?

"I believe Alison was informed by the elders that she should go to the police. I can't recollect who it was."

One former member of the congregation, Paul Wynn, said elders had tried to "whitewash" the issue.

And he told how he quit in disgust at being asked to forgive Ian Cousins.

Mr Wynn, 38, said: "Ian Cousins told elders in 1997 that he had abused the first girl. But no one did anything about it, and because of this the abuse of Alison continued.

"I was told that I was not welcome at the Kingdom Hall unless I could embrace Ian Cousins as my brother.

"I could not even look at him, never mind embrace him, after the disgusting things he did.

"Elders Alex Stewart and Colin McCreadie were told of the two eldest victims but did nothing.

"All that happened was that Cousins was demoted from his rank as a Ministerial Servant, which is in effect a trainee elder."

Alison has waived her legal right to anonymity in the hope of saving other girls from abuse.

Asked about her case, elder Alex Stewart said: "I do not know the outcome of the court case so I cannot comment."

Since the police were told about Ian Cousins in February 2000, a senior Jehovah's Witness has arrived in Stevenston as Presiding Minister.

It's claimed Jonathan Briggs is a "troubleshooter" sent to bring stability back to the congregation.

Mr Briggs told the Record: "It is unfair to ask questions of the individual elders. This is something which needs a response from the church as a whole."

At the Jehovah's Witness Watchtower UK headquarters, spokesman Paul Gillies said: "We have strict procedures and guidelines that matters like this should go straight to the secular authorities.

"It is the role of the police to investigate. Our policies put the needs of victims first.

"There is already a new Presiding Minister at Stevenston. And if, as a result of this case, it becomes apparent that elders are in need of further direction, that will happen.

"The victims are in need of love and understanding and that is what we want to offer them."

Police said the Kingdom Hall in Stevenston is not the subject of any investigation.

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