Evangelical pastor Howard Curtis ordered one woman to strip naked and slapped her behind in front of her HUSBAND in a bizarre spiritual ritual designed to cleanse her of her sins, a jury was told.
The self-styled reverend also spanked children, according to prosecutors, who say he set up a cult and posed as a trusted religious leader so he could fulfil “his desire for power and sexual satisfaction”.
Curtis, a 73-year-old father of three from Wallington in South London, did not deny carrying out the bizarre punishments but insists all the episodes were consensual.
In one instance the “charismatic and dynamic” pastor ordered a female follower to strip naked in his church office before putting her over his knee and spanking her.
The court heard he carried on with the beating even after she collapsed to the floor, with one of the dozen or so sessions he spent with her unfolding in front of her husband.
The encounters came after he introduced the student nurse to his version of “Christian domestic discipline”, which included following Bible teachings of keeping women in their place.
Prosecutor Toby Fitzgerald told the jury: “She trusted him completely as a man of God.
“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.”
The pastor then meted out subsequent discipline sessions to the woman for “lacking femininity” and having a “frigid spirit”.
Mr Fitzgerald told the court: “The defendant told her to strip completely naked and she lay across his lap and he slapped her.
“He also smacked her not only on her bottom, but between her legs for not recognising her femininity.”
He told the jury Curtis also took naked pictures of the woman on his mobile phone and fondled her between her legs, once inserting a finger.
Another woman was told it was “God”s will” she be punished and she agreed to his form of discipline, which took place in another follower”s house.
The court was told Curtis put her over his knee and beat her “very hard” until she started crying.
Mr Fitzgerald said: ”She leaned over a bannister in the 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 twenty to thirty 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.”
Meanwhile a third woman, a 51 year-old mother-of-three, received so-called “healing sessions” from Curtis, who claimed he could help her come to terms with historic sexual abuse.
During the alleged abuse the reverend “pinned her down” on a bed and got on top of her whilst holding a copy of the bible, the jury heard.
Mr Fitzgerald told the court: ”She feels she was almost put into a historic trance by the defendant, who quite deliberately preyed on the fact she had been abused to get her to relive it while he performed the acts her abuser did.
“Her reactions was often to scream and try to fight him off, but the defendant said this told him she needed more healing, allowing him to commit more abuse.
“The sessions were so physical and violent her clothes would be ripped and the defendant was so hot and sweaty he”d remove the top half of his clothing.” She was even attacked by Curtis with the help of other worshippers in the family room of a hospital her daughter was being treated at for a life-threatening illness.
“The defendant pinned her down to the bed and got on top of her while holding the Bible.
“Others had gone up there, supposedly to pray, and they assisted in pinning her down.
“The angrier she got the more the defendant said it was the evil spirit coming out.”
The court heard other instances involved young children, including a worshipper’s baby whose bottom he is accused of pinching.
In one instance the pastor is alleged to have spanked a 13-year-old girl with a slipper until she was “black and blue”, whilst on another he hit a boy around eight-years-old “very hard” up to five times.
Curtis, who was pastor at the Coulsdon Christian Fellowship (CCF) church in Chipstead Valley Road, was ordained in 1988 under the umbrella of the Elim Pentecostal church.
But prosecutors said he “deceived” his congregation into believing he was a bona fide religious leader when he was in fact “nothing of the sort”.
Mr Fitzgerald told the jury: “He presented himself as an inspirational man of God. 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.”
Curtis, of Bloxworth Close, Wallington, denies four counts of sexual assault, one count of assault by digital penetration and two counts of indecent assault against three women between January 2007 and July 2013.
He has also pleaded not guilty to four counts of child cruelty and one of ABH, said to have been carried out against four children worshippers between January 1969 and February 2008.
His trial continues, and is expected to last four weeks.