A WOMAN who was sexually abused as a child by her brother-in-law has blamed her old church for covering up the crime.

Helen Doe was abused by Barry Furlong, a former ministerial servant in the Kinson Jehovah’s Witness community and husband to her sister Kim, at a family gathering when she was 10 years old.

Furlong, then in his 30s, assaulted her and later told her that if she said anything she would not get into the ‘New Order’ – a term for Jesus’ supposed Second Coming.

Furlong, 69, has been jailed for five years and three months after being found guilty of sexually assaulting four different victims during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Mrs Doe, who has waived her right to anonymity, said she had told her parents about the abuse three years later, but rather than contacting police they had gone to the church elders who accused her of making it up.

“In effect I got told I was lying, I was a naughty girl, I was filthy and dirty and not to mention it again, and to get on with my life,” she said.

“After that I did everything I possibly could to hurt my mum. Because she didn’t believe me, they never did believe me.

“I felt awful for it, but she didn’t believe me and I wanted her to suffer.”

Now 44, Mrs Doe said she had grown up as part of a close-knit community of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and had been unable to escape Furlong’s company.

“Every time they came I just felt sick,” she said.

In part to spite her parents she fell pregnant at 15 and dropped out of school.

“It is just wrong, this crime should have been reported to the police,” she said.

“Mum and dad didn’t believe me because of their religion, but children’s welfare should come first, not religious beliefs.

“Now I feel guilty because perhaps if I had reported this at the time other people would not have suffered.”

Mrs Doe, who lives in Bournemouth, said victims of abuse should not be afraid to come forward.

“I was too scared all my life to take this to the police,” she said.

“But now I have, perhaps, in a couple of years, I may be able to have a normal life.”


THE Daily Echo contacted the Jehovah’s Witness headquarters in London for a response to Mrs Doe’s comments.

They reiterated that the faith has “an absolute and unequivocal abhorrence of child abuse.”

A spokesman said church communities supported victims of abuse but wouldn’t automatically report alleged crimes to the police as it is deemed a matter for the victims and their families to decide for themselves.

In a statement the church said “unrepentant wrongdoers” were expelled from the church and shunned by members.

The church publishes information to help families and children protect themselves from sexual abuse on its website www.jw.org and in Awake! and The Watchtower magazines.