X v Keighley Pentecostal Church

The specialist Child Abuse team at Irwin Mitchell successfully acted on behalf of a woman who brought a compensation claim against Keighley Pentecostal Church, after suffering years of physical and emotional abuse by senior church personnel.

Keighley Pentecostal Church is part of the Assemblies of God organisation. Our client, X, was 18 years old when she joined the congregation in 1986.  She was then subjected to seven years of physical and emotional abuse by the Pastor of Keighley Church, his wife, and the Assistant Pastor. The abuse only came to an end when X met her future husband and moved away from the area.

She endured years of guilt. The brainwashing she had undergone was so all-encompassing that she though the pain she felt was her own fault, and that she had deserved such “punishment”. Even after her three children were born, she spent years feeling “locked up” in her own mind, living in fear and bewilderment. During this time she received no treatment.

In 2002, X’s mental health deteriorated significantly. Eventually she needed inpatient treatment for her psychological injury. This treatment continued on both an outpatient and inpatient basis. 

She made a number of suicide attempts. Fortunately, she finally received the treatment she needed to help her recover, including exposure therapy in early 2006. For the first time, she was able to talk in detail about the nature of the abuse she had suffered, and began the slow and very difficult process of healing.

During the course of the treatment process, she began to understand what had happened to her. Rather than blaming herself, she was able to see instead that perhaps she had been the victim of behaviour that was abusive and unacceptable. In early 2008, X began to consider the possibility of taking legal action against the Church authorities.

The legal process was painful for her. It was necessary to obtain detailed medical evidence of the effects of the abuse.  However, our specialist Child Abuse team was able to settle her case through negotiation, so that she didn’t have to endure the further pain and stress of court proceedings. Detailed preparatory work was done to ensure these successful negotiations could take place.

The settlement we secured reflected the loss of earnings that X had incurred because of her psychological trauma. While making accommodation for the fact that there would have been periods of maternity leave and part-time work whilst our client was raising her children, it was also calculated on the basis that she ultimately would have returned to work in the future, had her psychological health allowed it.

Additionally, as part of the settlement terms, a reconciliation meeting was arranged between X and senior representatives of the Assemblies of God Church so that X could obtain a full and personal apology, which was a key part of her healing process.

Client X was represented by Sallie Booth in our specialist Child Abuse team. The team has extensive experience helping people make claims for child abuse: we'll deal with your case sensitively and professionally, to ensure you get the justice you deserve.

If you would like to talk confidentially to someone about making a compensation claim following child abuse, contact us online or call 0800 022 3503 today.