Paedophile used religion to keep abuse secret

Hull Daily Mail, UK/March 30, 2010

A paedophile raped and sexually assaulted women and girls over a period of 40 years by using their religion to keep the abuse secret.

Despite one revealing it to the Jehovah's Witness elders, no help was given, a court heard.

Now George Arthur Cockerill, 78, has been jailed indefinitely after he admitted 19 rapes, four counts of sexual activity with a child, six counts of indecency with a child, one sex assault and two counts of indecency with a child.

Judge Roger Thorn QC, sitting at Hull Crown Court, said: "You have pleaded guilty to 32 serious counts that reflect your sexual depravity.

"The reality is that, from beginning to end, it is extended over 40 years. You have wasted your life and caused untold misery.

"As one victim said, you have stolen her childhood.

"You have been the most terrible hypocrite, passing yourself off as a law-abiding member of the community and using religion as a tool of subjection to control your victims.

"That is why I'm satisfied this remained a secret for so long."

Cockerill was sentenced to imprisonment for public protection for a minimum of six years.

He will not be released until the Parole Board believe he is no longer a danger.

Cockerill, of Hull, was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

He allegedly had five victims, three of whom were subject to the convictions he pleaded guilty to and two more have made allegations against him.

Police believe there could be more.

In a statement read to the court, one victim said: "He took my childhood away."

Prosecutor David Dixon said: "He made one victim pray afterwards, linking the assault to the religion she had been devoted to for many years.

"She had pleaded with him not to do it.

"One girl tried to get the church elders to do something about him, but to no avail."

The attacks came to light after one woman told her doctor and then contacted the police.

The police then discovered more victims.

Cockerill has worked in the area as a butcher.

He served in the Army for eight years and has been involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses for a number of years.

Detective Constable Sam Crompton, from Humberside Police's public protection unit, said: "I would like to thank the complainants for their bravery in reliving such a difficult time in their lives and for having the strength and courage to assist us with the investigation."

A spokesperson for the Jehovah's Witnesses said: "We do not tolerate in any way that kind of behaviour. When this was brought to our attention Mr Cockerill was disfellowshipped and therefore he is no longer a Jehovah's Witness."

The Mail's comments facility has been disabled on this story to prevent the potential identification of the victims in the case.

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