Woman Says Hillsong church Fails to act after She accused Son of two pastors of Sexual Misconduct

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Lereko Melissa accuses Hillsong Church in Oxford, United Kingdom (UK) of treating harassment with levity after she revealed that the son of two pastors sexually harassed her while she was a chorister at the church.

She said she eventually left the church and sent a mail, reporting the abuse. The church promised to investigate the alleged sexual misconduct according to her but they haven’t done anything since then. She shared screenshots of the email exchange between her and the church after she reported the alleged sexual abuse to them.

She claimed she worshipped God together with Joshua Barwell, and during that period, he made sexually suggestive comments towards her. She said the comments sometimes came prior to them leading worship together.

She said the comments made her uncomfortable and she told about Barwell it, who only toned it down a bit but reverted back to the harassment later.

She added that “given the toxic environment that prevailed over Hillsong Chruch (as a result of abusive leadership) and the fact that the Pastors of the church were Josh’s parents, I felt that I was in no position to seek their help.”

Initially, she revealed she was afraid of the consequences of reporting Joshua Barwell to his pastor parents and other pastors and began wearing “drape-like clothing” to hide her body shape so that he will stop making sexual comments but he repented not.

She added that she shared her story online to “provide his other victims with another ally and cultivate a safe and supportive space in which they can come forward and share their own ill experiences with Josh, and highlight how their individual churches have failed them.”

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