Senior Jehovah’s Witnesses member charged with rape, torture and assault of teenage boys, the headline reads.
Detectives fear there could be more victims and are urging anyone with information to come forward.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with more than 50 offences including rape, torture, and procuring sex acts by false pretence. Police allege the 61-year-old abused his position of religious standing within the Jehovah’s Witnesses community to sexually assault young men between 2008 and 2018.
The wife of a man accused of sexually assaulting members of his congregation has claimed the alleged victims had “an axe to grind” with the Jehovah’s Witnesses church, court documents reveal, the woman also called the people who had made allegations against her husband “apostates”. She clarified the term meant the group were “formerly members of our church who are now against our church”.
In coded language, she claimed in the court documents that another of the alleged victims “chose to embrace a lifestyle contrary to bible teachings.”
The alleged offences relate to four male victims aged in their late teens to early twenties.
The man faces 21 counts of rape, 17 counts of sexual assault, 13 counts of procuring sexual acts by false pretence and one count each of incest, torture and common assault.
Police allege the sex acts against several men, including ex-bible study students, occurred over years at several properties on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane. Some of the offences are also alleged to have occurred at the man’s business premises.
The documents show that police allege the extent of abuse greatly varied between the victims and that in some cases others were present.
‘High and unacceptable risk’
Police say they have struggled to make enquires and approach some witnesses, noting the “secretive closed ranks” of the church.
Police allege two of the victims tried to report to religious elders and “were chastised, not believed and ostracised” and accused of being homosexual, before they went to police.
Australian sexual assault and family violence support lines:
- 1800 Respect National Helpline: 1800 737 732
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line Victoria: 1800 806 292
- Safe Steps Crisis Line (Vic): 1800 015 188
- Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
- Lifeline (24-hour Crisis Line): 131 114
- Victims of Crime Helpline: 1800 819 817