Minister spanked naked bottoms to administer 'spiritual discipline', court hears

An evangelical pastor spanked women's bare bottoms to administer "spiritual discipline", a court has been told.

Reverend Howard Curtis pleaded not guilty to the charges of sexual assault, saying the acts were consensual

The beatings were to satisfy Rev Howard Curtis' "desire for power and sexual satisfaction", according to the prosecution. The 73-year-old former minister of Coulsdon Christian Fellowship ran the church in Wallington, south London, as a "cult", Croydon Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Toby Fitzgerald said he had ordered one woman to strip naked before slapping her naked bottom until she collapsed.

"'She trusted him completely as a man of God," said Fitzgerald.

"She pulled down her trousers and underwear and lay across his lap. He hit her hard about twelve times until she ended up on the floor.

"She'd become, in effect, a rag doll in the defendant's hands."

Curtis, a self-styled minister, also took photos of her naked and slapped her in between her legs, the jury heard.

Another woman was also it was "God's will" she be punished.

Fitzgerald said: "She leaned over a bannister in a hallway and took her trousers and knickers down so he could spank her bare bottom.

"She was told it was important not to tell him when to stop, he would decide when it was time to stop and he continued to beat her forcefully.

"There were 20 to 30 strikes with his bare hand and she felt it was going on forever and was crying. She was black and blue and told all these actions were in God's name."

At a previous court trial, the jury were told the former minister used the "unorthodox" methods to instil discipline in women and drive out evil spirits.

Curtis, who was ordained in 1988 under the umbrella of the Elim Pentecostal Church, did not deny the charges but said the acts were consensual. He has pleaded not guilty to two sample counts of sexually assaulting one victim between January 2009 and July 2013 and a second victim between January 2007 and December 2009.

"He presented himself as an inspirational man of God," said Fitzgerald. "The Crown say the church was run for this defendant and he cloaked himself in the trappings of a religious leader.

"In reality he was nothing of the sort. He deceived his congregation, including children.

"He said he was going to cast out evil spirits from people and that discipline had to be administered by striking bare flesh with the bare hand."

The trial continues.