A member of the Jesus Army has been jailed for historic sex abuse against two school boys at communes run by the Christian organisation in Lancashire.Advertisement
Clifford Brett, 66, targeted one boy as he slept in his bed at a Jesus Army house in Preston, and lured another to his bedroom with the promise of dried fruit.
Preston Crown Court heard Brett lived as part of the religious group’s community and was trusted by his fellow members.
But while staying at a house in Preston, Brett crept into the youngster’s bedroom and lured him to his attic room, where he started talking about sex and made the youngster engage in sexual behaviour with him.
Brett also grouped another youngster after tricking him into bending over to pick up some items.
Judge Stuart Baker, sentencing, said: “You were part of the community. Those children and their mothers were entitled to expect that anyone living in the house with them would not abuse them.”
Throughout the 1990s the pensioner moved between Jesus Army’s network of properties in Preston and Northampton.
He took on work as a school caretaker and crossing patrol at Fulwood High School and Kennington County Primary School in Preston, Lancs.
Last year allegations emerged that he had carried out a string of rapes and sexual assaults on children living within the Lancashire Jesus Army community and Brett was called to stand trial.
The boys – who are now in their 20s – appeared visibly distressed as they recounted they abuse they suffered at Brett’s hands during their childhood.
Brett was cleared of 13 charges – including separate allegations relating to two girls – but convicted of three counts of indecency and indecent assault against the two boys who were living at the home.
Judge Baker said: “I take the view that for a 50 year old man as you were then to commit offences against two very young boys in domestic circumstances in which you were all living are offences so serious that had I been sentencing at the time, you would have inevitably faced an immediate custodial sentence.”
The judge handed Brett a four year sentence for abusing the first boy and a further 12 months for his attack on the second boy.
Both boys were still at primary school when they were targeted by Brett.
The pensioner, who lives in supported accommodation in Louise Street, Northampton, has been placed on the sex offenders register for life and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order to protect other children.
A spokesman for the Jesus Army said: “We welcome the verdict. We are deeply shocked and saddened by these crimes and the distress to the victims and their families.
Since the offences were committed in the 1990s the Jesus Army, or Jesus Foundation as it is now known, has taken safeguarding measures to protect children within its community.
In 2013 it invited disclosure from members of the congregation which led to a number of police investigations.
The organisation now employs safe guarding staff and is audited by the Churches Child Protection Advisory Services.