A member of a religious cult has been jailed for 11-and-a-half years after admitting repeatedly raping two girls almost three decades ago.
Derek Lincoln, 74, was told by judge Lord Matthews that he “stole the dreams” of his young victims.
This is the second prosecution of its kind in Scotland in two years.
Lincoln, who was extradited from France, admitted abusing the two girls while he was a member of the ‘Children of God’ cult, based at various sites in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, and Renfrewshire between 1989 and 1996.
The girls were aged nine and 11 when they were first targeted by Lincoln.
One woman who gave evidence against him hailed a “massive victory” for survivors.
Known only as Joy and now in her 40s, she managed to escape the cult when she was a teenager.
She had been abused by members of the religious sect from the age of four at locations including Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire.
Joy said: “For so many years we were taught not to expect justice. We were taught no one in the outside world will believe you.
“It’s a crazy story, telling people you were trafficked between communes, didn’t know your own address for most of your childhood, how you were out fundraising from four years old and never had an education, the extreme and bizarre daily punishments.
“People don’t believe this stuff happens outside 80s American films but it does and often it was hidden in plain sight.”
Children of God began in the United States in the late 1960s and has faced allegations of widespread sexual and physical abuse of women and children.
Its founder David Berg called himself Moses.
The victims involved in both prosecutions grew up in communes around Scotland in the 1980s and 90s.
Lincoln, who was also known as Derk Birks or John Green, committed the offences at addresses in Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.
Detective sergeant Neil Wilson, from Police Scotland, said: “Derek Lincoln was a very cruel individual, there was no information to suggest he was brainwashed in any way.
“We are of the opinion that he used his position within the children of god to abuse his victims.”
Lincoln was caught as part of a five-year international investigation.
His crimes came to light when his first victim made a complaint to police in England.
Det Sgt Wilson said: “Derek Lincoln held the position of like a house master at communes so he would be responsible for education of children and conveying adults from different locations for charity work.
“He used that opportunity to commit the serious sexual crimes that he did.
Children who were brought up as being members of the Children of God , now called Family International, were commonly brought up in a household with a dozen other families, curtains drawn, not seeing the light of day.
Joy said: “The communes were international. Sometimes it was a family unit, sometimes they had 40 to 50 people. I never stayed in one place long enough to make a friend.
“One of the challenges of bringing people to justice was the fact we were constantly moved so we didn’t know the exact locations. I was aware of Derek Lincoln but I didn’t know him by that name.
“Everyone in the cult had a biblical name. There are no surnames. This was another difficulty for police but by tracking down supporting witnesses, they were able to identify abusers like Lincoln.”
Joy was thrown out of the cult by becoming a “bad apple” but still suffers flashbacks after all these years.
She said: I have issues with insomnia. I know this will be with me for the rest of my life but with counselling, I can lessen the impact it has on my daily life. I am taking back control.
“The cult gave abusers an environment in which they could flourish. Even the other ones that went along with it and didn’t say anything, they are not innocent.
“If they are truly sorry, they should acknowledge that. The innocent ones are the children.”
Lincoln began abusing one of the girls when she was 11 or 12.
The first rape victim described Lincoln as ‘stern and controlling” and said he once put soap in her mouth and beat her with a switch and a belt.
When the girl was aged 12, Lincoln apologised to her for his behaviour, but despite the abuse became more frequent.
On one occasion he took her out jogging with him and as they ran into a wooded area he pulled her to the ground and raped her.
Lincoln’s second victim was raped when she was nine or ten. After abusing her he would tell her he was sorry and frequently bought her gifts.
Lincoln, who was retired and living in France, was returned to Scotland on October 9, 2019 on a European Arrest Warrant.
The first man to be convicted of abuse linked to Children of God in Scotland was Alexander Watt from Maybole.
The 68-year-old admitted offences against two children and was given three years’ probation and placed on the sex offenders’ register in 2018.
Family International continues to have a presence online.
Following the first conviction, the group issued a statement saying: “Although the Family International has apologised on a number of occasions to former members for any hurt, real or perceived, they may have suffered during their time in our membership, we do not give credence to tales of institutionalised abuse.”
Ian Haworth, who runs the Cult Information Centre, which supports ex-cult members and advises police, welcomed the sentencing.
He said: “Sadly this kind of abuse is a very common story that I hear but what isn’t common is the police taking this kind of action.
“I’m absolutely delighted there has now been two prosecutions in Scotland. We just haven’t seen this elsewhere.
“In that particular group, people are given new names when they enter into the group so even if you knew the name of the person, that’s not their name in real life so tracing these people is very hard. I hope this encourages more people to come forward.”
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