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Church denies link to child abuse pastor

GUILTY: Mark Pearce was convicted of three counts of sexual assault and a count of indecency against a child

A CHURCH linked to a minister convicted of child abuse has denied he was ever a pastor in their service.

Mark Pearce was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and a count of indecency against a child at Wolverhampton Crown Court on May 16.

The father-of-two, who reportedly headed The New Testament Church of God (NTCG) in the West Midlands, made advances towards a 14-year-old girl when they were alone at the MPM recording studio in Walsall and in his car.

Pearce had previously been convicted of sexual assaults in 1993 and 2002 and was described as a ‘persistent’ offender after his trial.

The New Testament Church of God (NTCG) released a statement on Friday (May 23) which said the 43-year-old was never an ordained minister at the place of worship.

“The NTCG wants to make it clear that Mr Pearce has never been an ordained minister with the church, has never presided over the Bilston Branch nor any other branch in the denomination. He held the first rank of credentials as an exhorter, but this was revoked and he has ceased to be a member for over five years.”

The statement continued: “The NTCG takes the welfare and protection of children and young people very seriously. The NTCG is a member of the Churches Child Protection Advisory Services (CCPAS) and all our church leaders have a Safeguarding Policy which provides guidelines on the procedures they should establish to ensure that the children who visit their premises are protected from harm and abuse.”

Pearce’s most recent offences took place 12 years ago, but were not reported until last year when the victim, who had since married and become a Christian, saw him in a pulpit surrounded by young people.

During his trial, he denied all offences, however, prosecutor Samantha Powis said the assault bore a 'staggering similarity' to his previous convictions and noted that although he held himself up as a devout man of God he “chose not to swear on the Bible to give evidence, instead making a non-religious affirmation.”

The National Overseer of the NTCG, Bishop Eric Brown, used the statement to reiterate the churches’ stance on ministers who abuse children while in connected to the church.

"We take seriously the welfare of children and vulnerable adults who are under our care and will do all in our power to ensure they do not come to harm, not least by any who provide service in our name. Crime against children in particular is reprehensible and perpetrators of such acts must be dealt with by the full force of the law."

Pearce has been warned that he may face time in prison and is due to be sentenced on June 16th.

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