Evangelist Denies He Abused Young Girls

An evangelist accused of hiding behind his church respectability to abuse children yesterday told a jury that he had done nothing wrong.

Former civil servant Keith Gasson, 67, is alleged to have committed offences against two girls while he lived at Rhydypennau Road, Cardiff, in the 1980s.

Both girls – now adults – have accused him of ruining their lives.

The women knew him as a regular attender at Heath Evangelical Church and one told Cardiff Crown Court he invented games as an excuse to touch her.

Yesterday, Gasson, now living in Egham, Surrey, had the chance for the first time to speak to the jury of six men and six women about the allegations.

At the opening of his defence case, he agreed that Sundays for his family while living in Cardiff had centred around the church and he often had visitors – sometimes students – back for Sunday tea.

But he had never told children or anyone that they would be condemned or ‘lost’ if they did not believe in the church teachings.

“I believed in freedom to choose,” he said.

He recalled one of his accusers as a ‘quiet child’ but said he would never have treated her the way she claims, adding: “It would have been an act of absolute cruelty.”

As for the second, he said he could not even remember her being in his company as she described.

“I have no recollection of her being there or of playing tickling games.”

Asked by his barrister, Andrew Fitzpatrick, whether he had ever asked her – as she alleged – to have a cwtch, Gasson said: “It wasn’t an expression I knew.”

He said there was no truth in any of it.

Today he was due to face cross examination from prosecuting counsel Sue Ferrier who has alleged: “He acted behind the cloak of respectability of a church-going man with strong moral values. Paedophile activities went on behind closed doors.”