Disgraced York Salvation Army leader faces jail for sex attacks
Evening Press (York, North Yorkshire, Great Britain)

January 18, 2000

A disgraced former Salvation Army leader from York faces jail after he admitted indecently assaulting two teenage girls.

Martin Howe, 39, quoted Bible passages to one teenager then asked her to undress and spanked her before the two prayed together.

And he asked the second girl to strip from the waist down after telling her he was going to punish her.

A magistrates court heard that Howe gained the trust of the girls when he served at Salvation Army citadels in York and Bridgewater, Somerset.

Tom Garnham, prosecuting, said Howe and his wife Lynda, who were both captains in the Christian movement, befriended the first teenager.

But Howe questioned the teenager about her sex life and on one occasion went further.

Mr Garnham said: "Howe read passages from the Bible about forgiveness.

"He told her to bend over and kneel down and spanked her bottom and then asked her to take her knickers off.

"The teenager refused to undress, but Howe told police she had seemed quite happy at what happened and the pair then prayed."

Magistrates in Fareham, Hants, heard the couple later moved to York, where Howe became close to another teenage Salvation Army regular.

And after offering her a lift home one evening he went into her bedroom, leaving his children downstairs.

Mr Garnham said: "He told her about a little ceremony where he would punish and forgive her.

"He sat on a chair and asked her to strip from her waist down and slapped her bare bottom."

She reported the incident to senior officials in the Christian movement, who suspended Howe from his post and launched an internal investigation.

Howe moved to Gosport, Hants, where he was based at the Salvation Army headquarters.

He was brought in for questioning by police at Havant's child protection unit last October.

Howe yesterday admitted two charges of indecent assault.

Angie Cunningham, for Howe, told the court that the assaults themselves were not overly serious although he had breached the trust of the two girls.

She said Howe, of Frater Lane, Gosport, had shown much remorse and co-operated with the police.

She said: "There was never any force used in these and the assaults were never accompanied by violence."

But chairman of the bench Marian Read said she and her colleagues viewed Howe's actions very seriously.

She said: "In view of the breach of trust, our sentencing powers are not enough."

She ordered that Howe be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on February 25.

Speaking after the case Howe, who has now resigned from the Salvation Army, apologised for the distress his actions had caused to his victims and the movement.

He said: "I do not seek to excuse my actions. I am only too aware that inevitably others will have been hurt.

"I would like to express my sympathy to all those who have been affected by what happened."

A spokeswoman for the Salvation Army said Howe had been suspended at York but the suspension was later lifted following the move to Gosport. Howe was again suspended following the police investigation last year and resigned from the movement.


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