Patrick Sookhdeo, one of the founders of the Christian charity Barnabas Aid International and an expert on Islamic extremism, was found guilty of sexual assault and intimidating two witnesses.
A British jury upheld charges on Monday that Sookhdeo, 67, groped a female staff member in his office last year, and that he intimidated two witnesses identified as Barnabas Fund employees.
Sookhdeo has denied all charges.
In an email from the U.K., Julian Dobbs—a board member of the U.S. branch of the ministry and a bishop with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America—told me that ministry board members are meeting to discuss the verdict and Sookhdeo’s future. Sookhdeo didn’t answer an email seeking comment.
Sookhdeo serves as the international director of Barnabas Aid International—a Christian organization and umbrella group for the U.K.-based Barnabas Fund and the U.S.-based Barnabas Aid. The group helps persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries around the world.
Sookhdeo was also a founder of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity and has written dozens of articles and books about the threat of Islamic extremism, particularly toward vulnerable Christian populations. He grew up in a Muslim family but converted to Christianity in England and later began his ministry career as an Anglican priest.
After a female staff member accused Sookhdeo of groping her last year, Barnabas Aid board members asked Sookhdeo to step down as international director while they conducted an internal investigation. The board members said they found insufficient evidence to uphold the staffer’s allegations, and they invited Sookhdeo to return to his post.
The staffer then pressed charges against Sookhdeo with British police, and prosecutors later added two charges of witness intimidation. A jury found Sookhdeo guilty of the charges on Monday and a judge sentenced Sookhdeo to a daily curfew from 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. for three months and a fine of £3,500 (approximately US$5,400).
Dobbs said Sookhdeo doesn’t plan to appeal.
The guilty verdict in the Christian leader’s case comes as Islamic extremists are brutally targeting Christians across the Middle East and in North Africa. Dobbs said the work of Barnabas Aid to help such vulnerable populations is “larger than one person and is strong and secure.” He also said the organization plans to release a statement with more information about Sookhdeo.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Publication date: March 2, 2015