Priest, 77, accused of 'spiritual abuse' as victims allege they endured naked beatings, ice baths and massages
Rev Jonathan Fletcher, 77, who is a priest in the Church of England, was banned from preaching after allegations emerged that he was abusive.
A senior evangelical figure could be facing a criminal investigation after victims of his alleged abuse have spoken up revealing a horrific case of abuse. 77-year-old Rev Jonathan Fletcher, who is a Church of England vicar was banned from preaching after allegations emerged that he had doled out spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical abuse,The Telegraph reported.
The allegations of "spiritual abuse" against Fletcher surfaced initially in 2017 and five more victims have now spoken up. The victims alleged that they were subjected to naked ice baths, beatings, nude massages and masturbating by him and that he made sexually inappropriate comments. They also endured alleged bullying, and intimidation, the outlet reported.
Some were made to join Fletcher in a naked sauna and endure nude massages with oil, it was claimed. One of the victims claimed that he was beaten with what was described as "six of the best with a gym shoe on a bare backside." The five men, who have all remained anonymous, alleged that he had "manipulative and controlling tendencies".
Fletcher was the vicar of Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon during the period of 1982 and 2012. The accusers claimed that it did not take their concerns seriously. "We don't feel that we can go anywhere, basically. There's no one high up that we trust," one of them said. Another said, "There should be a criminal investigation into not only Jonathan's activities but also how witnesses have been silenced."
The publication reported that a spokesperson for the church said that an independent review had been set up. Fletcher denied the allegations. He denied he humiliated people or made derogatory comments about their appearance, and said he never gave ice baths, but 'very rarely' gave a 'cold bath'. According to him, "anything that happened was totally consensual and non-sexual" and "the punishments were a) consensual, and b) mutual." He also said that he was "deeply, deeply sorry for anybody that I have hurt or harmed in any way". He reportedly said, "If I knew the individuals that I had harmed I would seek their forgiveness and ask to apologize."
Earlier in June this year, after an article exposed Fletcher's actions, Southwark Diocese confirmed the allegations had been made around his potentially 'harmful' conduct against 'vulnerable adults who may be seeking his spiritual guidance'. Sarah Hall, the safeguarding officer and women's worker at Emmanuel Church, at the time, said: "We are appalled and saddened by what has been disclosed. We apologise to all those who have been affected."