The Saint John Times Globe – Posted: Jan 9, 2013

A former Jehovah’s Witness church elder was sentenced yesterday to one year in jail for indecently assaulting a young boy in the late 1970s.

But Wesley Hubert Mills, 74, will be able to serve his sentence in the community.

Provincial Court Judge William McCarroll decided to impose a community-based sentence after a lengthy recess and a long explanation of the concept.

That will allow Mr. Mills to serve his sentence in Peterborough, Ont., where he now lives. At the time of the incident, Mr. Mills was a respected church elder in Saint John. His victim was a young member of the church, who was between four and six years old at the time of the assault.

Although Mr. Mills was convicted on a similar charge in Hampton in 1992, he maintains his innocence, saying that his only problem is being too affectionate.

Judge McCarroll was very blunt with him during sentencing. He said he didn’t buy the explanation.

He said he was convinced that Mr. Mills assaulted the young boy deliberately for his own sexual pleasure.

Even so, the judge said he doesn’t believe that Mr. Mills is a danger to the community anymore.

The victim, now in his early 20s, testified last month that he had been unable to tell his family about the touching because of Mr. Mills’ respected position in the religious community.

After Mr. Mills was convicted in 1992, the victim’s mother asked if there was anything that was troubling him. He told the court he was unable to tell her what happened.

It wasn’t until last July that he was able to tell his parents that Mr. Mills had sexually molested him.

As a child, he thought his parents knew about the abuse and condoned it.

Mr. Mills had assured him that the sexual touching was something everybody did. The victim said it didn’t feel right to him, but he did not believe he had the authority to question a man everyone held in such high regard.

Yesterday, Judge McCarroll said he believed the children in the church would have done anything Mr. Mills asked of them.

They were taught to respect their elders, particularly church elders.

The judge also praised the young man for his courage to tell his story.

He wished him luck and hoped that he was able to put the ordeal behind him.

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