Pastor admits covering up child sex crimes by his deacon on two girls

EXCLUSIVE: Baptist church pastor admits covering up his son-in-law’s vile child sex crimes on two young girls for TWELVE years – and only told his parish after the paedophile deacon was jailed

  • Ebenezer Strict Baptist Church in Clapham, south London, is accused of covering up the historic sex abuse crimes of one of his son-in-law 
  • Ben Kinderman, 39, was jailed for three years last year for sexually abusing two girls aged six and ten more than 20 years ago
  • But MailOnline has learned that the church pastor Philip Brunker sent his flock an extraordinary letter admitting he had known about Kinderman’s past for years
  • In the letter, he said that Kinderman had confessed to his crimes in 2009 – yet still allowed him to join the church and elevate him to deacon
  • The letter was sent in April last year – only after Kinderman, a father of six, who is married to the pastor’s daughter – had been jailed
  • The letter is said to have shocked parishioners at the church who were kept in the dark
  • Pastor Brunker is the father of Dr Joanna Main, devout Christian who sparked fury last week by banning a gay couple from viewing or buying her home

A Baptist church has been accused of a ‘cover-up’ after one of its deacons was jailed for vile historic child abuse offences involving two girls aged six and ten.

Last year, 39-year-old Ben Kinderman, the pastor’s son-in-law and former deacon of the Ebenezer Strict Baptist Church in Clapham, south London, was jailed for three years after admitting the offences.

But MailOnline has learned that the Pastor of the church, Philip Brunker, 80, sent an extraordinary letter to his flock, admitting that he had known of Kinderman’s paedophile past for more than ten years, yet had still allowed him to join the church – and subsequently elevated him to deacon.

The letter was sent last April – only after Kinderman had been jailed.

Pastor Brunker is the father of Dr Joanna Main, 34, a devout Christian, who sparked outrage with her husband Luke, 33, last week by banning a gay couple from viewing or buying their £650,000 house, citing passages from the Bible.

The Mains are both members of the Ebenezer Church, and jailed former deacon Kinderman, a father-of-six, is married to Mrs Main’s sister.

Pastor Philip Brunker (pictured outside his £1.5million home in South London) covered up his son-in-law’s historic sex crimes against two young girls and welcomed into his church

Ben Kinderman (left) was sentenced to three years in jail last year for sexually abusing two girls who were aged six and ten.  His victims told the court how the abuse affected them

Despite telling pastor Brunker, now 80, of his crimes, Kinderman was still welcomed into the Ebenezer Strict Baptist Church (pictured) in Clapham, south London, and made a deacon

Pastor Brunker sent a letter to his flock in April last year after Kinderman was sentenced. In it he said Kinderman confessed to his crimes when he applied for church membership in 2009

Pastor Brunker’s letter is said to have ‘stunned’ the 60-strong congregation.

A source close to the church told MailOnline: ‘Pastor Brunker was openly admitting he’d covered up his son-in-law’s past and allowed him not only into the church, but also to be a deacon, despite knowing exactly what he’d done. People were outraged.’

Kinderman’s offences, which were committed when he was himself aged 15 or 16, came to light when his two victims – girls aged six and ten at the time of the offences more than 20 years earlier – reported him after he wrote her a letter of apology to one, begging for forgiveness.

Prosecutor Barnaby Shaw told Swindon Crown Court last year that Kinderman had grown up in a Baptist household.

He had admitted molesting his older victim, who was no older than 10 at the time of the assaults, on three occasions.

The pastor’s letter shocked his 60-strong congregation at the church in south London

Kinderman took her to isolated locations on a farm in Wiltshire, touching her sexually near a bonfire while they were alone. She was said to have suffered extreme pain as a result of the ordeal and he continued despite her pleas that he stop.

On another occasion, when they were playing table tennis in the cowshed, he got her to collect a ball that had been hit far into the next shed so he could paw her as he lifted her over the wall dividing the sheds.

He also molested her in the back of a car on a journey – despite the presence of others in the vehicle.

The younger girl, who was around six, said she had been touched sexually by Kinderman as she lay in a bed with him. There were others in the room.

In a letter to the older victim, sent in 2009 while she was at university and shortly before his own baptism, Kinderman told her he hoped he had been forgiven for having ‘behaved improperly’.

He said it would be ‘a mercy’ to feel that God was able to forgive sinners who are truly repentant. 

Interviewed by the police in 2020, he suggested what he had been doing was ‘experimenting’. He accepted it had been wholly wrong of him to do what he did.

In a victim statement, the older girl said she felt he had completely minimised what he did and the effect his actions had. She had suffered breakdowns at university as a result of his letter.

The second victim said the abuse had left her with the mentality of wanting to please men, leading to a series of unhealthy relationships. She said she felt guilty about not being aware of what the older girl was going through. 

Pastor Brunker is the father of Dr Joanna Main (left), a devout Christian who, along with her husband Luke Main (right), sparked fury by banning a gay couple from buying their home 

Luke Whitehouse and his partner Lachlan Mantell (pictured) were told they couldn’t view a property that they had seen because the owners didn’t want to sell to a gay couple 

The Christian couple’s  Surrey home (pictured) was advertised with a guide price of £650,000

Jailing Kinderman for three years, Judge Crabtree told him: ‘She has nothing to be guilty for. The guilt lies with one person in this courtroom and that is you.’

He said of the man’s older victim: ‘It is clear that your abuse of her has had a very real and enduring impact upon her health. She recalls at the time and as a teenager being unable to sleep and believing she would be unable to marry and have children.

‘She was terrified of anyone finding out about what you were doing as she believed what she had done was wrong. 

‘Of course, there was only one person who was doing wrong and that was you; even as a 15 or 16-year-old youth.’

Mitigating, Mark Kelly QC highlighted his client’s youth at the time of the offending and genuine remorse. Custody would have a significant impact on him, his wife and large family.

He was a professional engineer and had been told he would lose his job if he were sent to prison. The court heard he had been invested as a deacon at Strict Baptist chapel, although had stepped back from the role.

Kinderman, of Streatham, London, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to four counts of indecent assault. He must register as a sex offender for life and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order indefinitely.

In in his letter which finally informed his church members and their families of Kinderman’s crimes, pastor Brunker admitted that he had known about the offences back in 2009.

The pastor said that 12 years before he was sentenced Kinderman had confessed to him his crimes when he applied for membership to the church.

He added that they were ‘fully satisfied’ with his repentance and brought his application before the church where the members ‘unanimously’ received him.

‘He has been an upright, consistent and loyal member and since April 2018 has also served graciously and and capably as a deacon.’

He goes on to reveal the identity of one of Kinderman’s victims. 

Pastor Brunker added that his son-in-law’s lawyers had told him he was ‘a fool’ for sending his mea culpa letter to his victim and telling the truth.  

When MailOnline put it to pastor Brunker that he had covered up his son-in-law’s crimes, he replied: ‘That’s a phrase you might use, but he was only a teenager himself at the time. ‘

There are around 100 Strict Baptist churches in the UK and a handful in the US, Canada and Australia. The evangelical sect first emerged in the early 19th Century. They regard the Bible as the ‘inspired and infallible word of God’.

The word ‘strict’ derived from restricted, as they are a closed congregation and unlike many other Christian churches, do not welcome non-members to worship, unless they have repented their sins and been baptised by immersion.

When MailOnline put it to pastor Brunker that he had covered up his son-in-law’s crimes, he replied: ‘That’s a phrase you might use, but he was only a teenager himself at the time. ‘

Standing outside his £1.5m terraced house in Clapham, less than a mile from the Ebenezer Strict Baptist Church, he added: ‘You people are pests, please leave.’

He then asked our reporter to come back and handed him a Baptist pamphlet entitled ‘Jesus Christ is the true God, and eternal life’ and added: ‘read that!’

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