Jehovah's Witnesses told to pay rape victim £62k

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Mark SewellImage source, Wales News Service
Image caption,
Mark Sewell was jailed in 2014 for raping the woman

Leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses have been told to pay £62,000 in damages to a former member who was raped after door-to-door visits.

The woman was attacked 30 years ago by Mark Sewell after evangelising for the religious group near Cardiff.

A "judicial committee" of the group's elders found the allegations against Sewell "not proven" in an internal inquiry in 1991.

But High Court judge Mr Justice Chamberlain ruled in the her favour.

Sewell was jailed for 14 years after a trial at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court in 2014 convicted him of raping the woman and indecently assaulting two other people.

The woman, who is no longer a Jehovah's Witness, said she suffered from depression as a result of the rape.

She said a "proper" internal inquiry had not been conducted and said leaders of the Jehovah's Witnesses were "vicariously liable" for the rape.

The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, which is based in New York and is the worldwide governing body of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and the trustees of the local congregation the woman had been a member of, did not accept they were vicariously liable for the rape.

But after a High Court trial in London the judge ruled her psychiatric injuries were attributable to the rape.