Preacher at 'celebrity' church guilty of sex attacks 6, 2004
By Jenny Booth

A charismatic preacher who ran Britain's second richest church has been found guilty of sexually assaulting young women in his congregation.

Douglas Goodman, whose Victory Christian Centre in Kilburn, North London, was attended by the former footballer John Fashanu and the singer Patti Boulaye, used church funds to give lavish presents to the women he pursued.

More on Goodman's lifestyle

He was convicted at the Old Bailey today of two indecent assaults, an attempted indecent assault and one count of perverting the course of justice.

The jury was unable to reach verdicts on seven further charges of indecent assault and one rape, and acquitted him of two indecent assaults on a woman with whom he had an affair.

Judge Gerald Gordon remanded the 47-year-old former bus driver on bail overnight, warning him not to be "under any misapprehension" that he would not be jailed when he is sentenced tomorrow.

Goodman, of Turnberry Lane, Collingtree, Northampton, denied all 14 charges, said to have been committed between 1997 and 2002 against four women aged between 17 and 32.

Now he could face more legal action over the finances of the Victory Christian Centre, which was closed down by the Charity Commission in December 2002 after an anonymous letter pointed out that there was #3 million missing from church funds.

The 3,000-strong congregation paid tithes of 10 per cent of their salary to support the church. Goodman and his wife Erica were so highly regarded that in an "appreciation day" at the church they were crowned King and Queen.

The Old Bailey heard in evidence how Goodman had abused this trust by taking his family on a #21,000 holiday to Hawaii, driving Porsche and Mercedes cars, and giving a Mercedes to one of his teenage victims, using church funds. When the woman reported him to church elders, he ordered her to give the car back.

Goodman, who was never ordained, but performed his own ordinations on others at the centre, now heads a new church.

He faced the charges twice after the jury at his first trial could not agree on verdicts in July last year. This time the jury of seven women and five men took 22 hours 47 minutes to reach verdicts. The perverting justice verdict was unanimous, but the indecent assault verdicts were 10-2 majorities.

John Coffey QC, prosecuting, told the court: "He acted in a predatory fashion, singling out those who were vulnerable. He targeted mainly younger members of the congregation, posing as a paternal figure, rendering them susceptible to his advances. He abused his position and their trust."

Mr Coffey said that Goodman fondled his victims and showered them with gifts, paying for holidays and presents.

After an encounter with one woman in a hotel bedroom, he was said to have asked her to pray with him to repent their sins.

The women said that when they complained to church elders, they were ordered to leave the church.

When he was approached by the elders, whom he had appointed, Goodman told them: "I have let a couple of girls get too close. It will all blow over", the court was told.

He refused to resign and said one of the girls had approached him naked in a hotel room, demanding: "Pastor, come and make me scream."

The court was told that after a teenager made a complaint to police, Goodman told a woman church member to ring her and threaten to send pictures of her to a Sunday newspaper unless she withdrew.

Goodman was cleared of two indecent assaults against Miss A, a 33-year-old production manager and former actress, but the jury could not agree on a rape charge.

She told the court that she had been assaulted in two hotel rooms and a taxi by Goodman - and then went on to have an affair with him.

Goodman was found guilty of two indecent assaults against Miss B, a 19-year-old student, at a cinema in Finchley Road, North London.

After the first assault, Goodman apologised and said they had to put themselves "in the path of temptation" again to prove they could beat it. But the temptation had been "too much for him" and he had assaulted her again in the cinema.

The teenager later made a half-hearted attempt at suicide because she thought she was in the wrong. The jury could not decide on allegations that she was also assaulted twice in the church office.

When others complained to the church elders, Goodman had phoned her telling her to say nothing and "as an extra sweetener" had offered to pay for her wedding dress, she said.

The jury was also undecided on Miss C, who first met Goodman when she was 17. She said he offered to pay for her and her friend to attend a church trip to Florida.

Goodman took her on shopping trips and had shown signs of becoming obsessed with her, she said.

She claimed he abused her in his Mercedes car which had blacked-out windows. He later bought her an A-class Mercedes, but ordered her to return it after she complained to the elders.

She said she was threatened with allegedly embarrassing photographs of her after she complained to police.

Miss D, a 26-year-old dancer who appeared on videos with singer Craig David and TV star Ali G, said that Goodman had attempted to steal a kiss from her in his car. The jury agreed he had been attempting to indecently assault her, but could not agree on another charge involving an incident in his office.

Goodman did not give evidence in court, but members of the church said they believed the sex allegations were made up to discredit him.

Courtenay Griffiths QC, defending, compared him to Bill Clinton and John Major, adding: "Did they end up in the dock? No!"

Mr Griffiths added: "He may be guilty of a moral failing, but this is not a court of morals. He is not on trial for infidelity or hypocrisy. He may have taken advantage of the adulation heaped on him by female members of the church but he is not on trial for that."

During the trial, a church regular and youth leader called Banjo Aromolaran, who took the side of the women who complained against Goodman, said that he felt intimidated by Mr Fashanu.

He told the court that Mr Fashanu allegedly warned him: "There are people who are ready to jump you and throw acid in your face. There are psychopaths who are ready to lay their lives down to preserve Douglas Goodman's good name."

Singer Patti Boulaye said Goodman supported her Aids charity in Africa. "He is very different from every other pastor I've met," she said.

As a smiling Goodman left the Old Bailey today, he was surrounded by supporters. Some of them started singing hymns.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "The inquiry into the Victory Christian Centre is still open."

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