On February 18th last, a 34 year-old Jehovah’s Witness man who sent sexually explicit messages to a 13 year-old girl in 2016 has been handed down an 18 month jail term at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.
To protect the identify of his victim, the man cannot be named. He met the girl through their mutual association with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The man, with an address in Dublin, pleaded guilty to the sexual exploitation of a child. He also admitted to possession of sexually explicit images of a child, contrary to the Child Pornography and Trafficking Act, 1998.
Judge Karen O’Connor took into consideration the absence of other convictions and his guilty plea.
She sentenced the Jehovah’s Witness to a 2-and-a-half-year prison term. She suspended one year on the condition that he behave himself, engage with a sex offender treatment program, and have no unsupervised access to children.
The convicted felon’s defense counsel, Michael Bowman SC, said that his client was “sexually naive in the extreme”. He went on to say that this was partly due to his involvement with an “extremely conservative religion in terms of sexual mores”. Bowman explained that anything other than kissing or hugging prior to marriage was prohibited and could lead to expulsion from the religious group.
Bowman said that after the man’s arrest and questioning, he confessed to “church elders” and was disfellowshipped. ALERT! has learned from Witness sources close to the case that the man was disfellowshipped in late 2016 and was reinstated some 2 years later. He has also had all his restrictions removed.
Bowman concluded that the Probation service assessed the felon as being at a moderate risk of re-offending. He said his client wishes to apologize to the victim and her family.