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Sallie Booth, Consultant in Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office, acted on behalf of X in connection with her claim for compensation against Keighley Pentecostal Church following years of physical and emotional abuse by senior church personnel.
Keighley Pentecostal Church is part of the Assemblies of God organisation. X joined the congregation in 1986 when she was 18 years old. She was then subjected to 7 years physical and emotional abuse by the Pastor of Keighley Church, his wife and the assistant Pastor. The abuse finally came to and end when X met her future husband and moved away from the area.
She suffered years of feeling guilty. She felt that she had deserved such “punishment”. The brain washing she had undergone was so all encompassing that the pain she felt was all her own fault. She spent years, even after her 3 children were born, feeling “locked up” in her own mind and living in fear and bewilderment. She received no treatment.
Eventually, she told her husband about what had happened. He wrote to the Assemblies of God and an investigation was initiated into Keighley Pentecostal Church. X provided a statement. The investigators told X that the Pastor and his assistant had been suspended from their positions in July 1993. At that time there was no suggestion that X had been mistreated or that she should receive any formal support or assistance from the AOG, and no apology was forthcoming.
In 2002, X’s mental health deteriorated significantly. Eventually, she required inpatient treatment for her psychological injury. This treatment was continued on an outpatient and inpatient basis from 2002. She made various suicide attempts. On the positive side, she finally received relevant treatment, including exposure therapy which commenced in January 2006. For the first time, she spoke in detail about the nature of the abuse she had suffered and began the slow and very difficult process of working through very complex associated beliefs and emotions. During the course of the treatment process, she began to develop an understanding of what had happened to her and to begin to think that she was possibly a victim of extremely unreasonable behaviour. In early 2008 X began to think of the possibility of taking legal action against the Church authorities.
The legal process was a painful one for X. It was of course necessary to obtain detailed medical evidence of the effects of the abuse. However, X’s case was settled through negotiation without having to issue court proceedings. Detailed preparatory work was done which enabled negotiations to take place in connection with each part of X’s case. This was settled less than 2 years after Irwin Mitchell was first consulted by X. Compensation was paid in the sum of £425,000 plus X’s costs and disbursements.
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