Monster rapist told daughter ‘It’s better for a girl to be broken in by her father rather than a stranger’
The daughter of a devout Christian has told how he raped her from the age of four – and how a church covered up the horrific abuse.
Cordelia was subjected to weekly attacks by her father George Donald, 67, who told her: “It is better for a girl to be broken in by her father rather than a stranger.”
When Cordelia’s mother found out about the abuse and went to pastors in the church where Donald was a volunteer youth leader, she was told that it was against “church policy” to take a “Christian brother before a heathen judge” or the police.
Her mother was also told the abuse wouldn’t have happened if she had been a better wife.
This week Donald, from Dundee, who was living in South Africa at the time of the crimes, was sentenced to seven years in prison for raping Cordelia and a 10-year-old girl in the 1980s.
He spent years denying the abuse and fighting extradition back to South Africa.
But he pled guilty at Pretoria Regional Court and has told his daughter he is sorry.
Cordelia, who lives in Scotland, said: “He was no father – he was a monster that lived in my house, lurking in the corners, taking what he believed was rightfully his.
“No child should go through that torture.”
Cordelia has chosen to speak about her ordeal as she fears there are other victims of her father who have yet to come forward.
The family emigrated from Scotland to South Africa when Cordelia, who has three brothers, was 10 months old.
Donald began abusing her when she was two. He raped her, sometimes twice a week, from the age of four until she was 10.
The abuse only lessened when another female victim reported to Cordelia’s mother that she had been abused.
But when her mother reported the abuse to pastors at Hatfield Christian Church in Pretoria, she was shrugged off.
Donald continued to subject his daughter to persistent sexual innuendo and advances.
Cordelia said the attacks only stopped when the family moved back to Scotland when she was 13 and her parents separated.
To the outside world, Donald, a supermarket manager, was the epitome of the perfect husband and father, a charismatic and upright Christian who worked tirelessly with children.
Cordelia said: “Behind this perfect family impression lay a sinister secret of a man who thrived on the ability to control, manipulate, lie and abuse many around him. I was victim to sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
“As a child growing up in this environment, I lived in fear, confusion and hyper vigilance. I would jump if I heard a car pull up or a lock turned. I was constantly scared.”
Cordelia was so traumatised that from the age of three, she pulled her hair out and bit her nails until her fingers bled.
She was so desperate not to be a girl and a target for her dad that she imitated being a boy, even trying to urinate standing up.
Her dad threatened to harm her mother and brothers or kill her family pets if she revealed their “secret”.
She said: “I felt that by saying nothing, I was protecting my family.”
Donald told her it was normal for dads to behave sexually with their little girls.
She said: “No place was sacred. The abuse took place in many different locations, but mostly within the home, garden or car.
“When we were on holidays, the abuse did not stop. I remember him drawing sexual images in the sand on the beach so that I knew what he was thinking, what he wanted. It was a reminder that I was never safe.”
Donald also forced Cordelia and her brothers to settle childish bickering through brutal physical fights.
She said: “He would be the referee and we had to fight each other until there was only one winner standing. None of us liked doing it. He got great satisfaction watching others suffer.”
When Cordelia’s mother was told of abuse by his 10-year-old victim, both girls were taken to a doctor, who confirmed they had been raped.
She confronted her husband who confessed he “needed help”.
The church put Donald through in-house counselling then assigned the same person to provide “guidance” to Cordelia.
She said: “No one went to the police to keep me safe – not the church, not the doctor who examined me, not my mother. No one listened. Nothing was done.”
However, Cordelia says she doesn’t blame her mother because she was scared of her husband.
Cordelia is convinced Donald continued to abuse a number of other victims, using his position in church to seek them out, even after her ordeal came to light.
She said: “He did this not just to me but I believe to many people who put their trust in him as a youth pastor.
“I do not believe he stopped doing what captivated his every thought – the sick and twisted desires he seemed to believe were OK.”
Cordelia, was freed from Donald’s control after her parents divorced.
Although she considered reporting him when she turned 18, she didn’t want to hurt his family, who are kind and upstanding.
But her experience being a support worker for vulnerable women in 2009 compelled her to act to protect others.
With the support of her brothers, she reported Donald to police in Dundee, who instigated an investigation through Interpol.
The monster, who by this time was living in England, was extradited after eight years.
Three victims went ahead with the case but South African statute of limitations meant one woman’s case was dropped because it involved the lesser charge of sexual assault.
After pleading guilty, Donald was sentenced to seven years for crimes against Cordelia and another five for his second victim, which will run concurrently.
Donald is now wheelchair-bound and Cordelia took up an offer to see him in prison, where he wept and apologised to her.
She told him she accepted his apology but was glad he had been locked up.
Cordelia said: “I’ve had counselling and I believe I have mainly dealt with the abuse. I am not broken – he has not won. I feel nothing for him.
“He is as much a stranger now as he was the monster in the cupboard when I was a child.
“I hope other people come forward, knowing he is in prison and knowing they will be believed, so they can find a sense of justice.
“Paedophiles don’t just stop when they move to another country. I believe there are other victims, including in the UK.”