Rape trial gives rare insight into secretive Exclusive Brethren church

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Rape trial gives rare insight into secretive Exclusive Brethren church

Post by LadyKiwi » Tue May 15, 2018 12:26 am

Rape trial gives rare insight into secretive Exclusive Brethren church

Last updated 11:51, May 15 2018

The Exclusive Brethren church dominated every area of their lives.

He refused to eat or drink with non-members. She was outcast after obtaining a protection order.

They dedicated almost all their free time to church meetings. But at home, he used a wooden spoon to dish out punishment, and repeatedly raped his wife in their marital bed, as well as his son.

The Palmerston North trial of an Exclusive Brethren man accused of raping his son, which ended on Monday with the man guilty of almost all charges, would focus as much on the church as it did on the horrible crimes.

A "trial by a group of one's peers" is the idea behind jury trials being almost always held where an offender lives.

But in this trial, they were hardly his peers. In fact, as the trial heard, the only real peers of Exclusive Brethren are Exclusive Brethren.

We might think we know about the Brethren: the clothes, the windowless churches, the leader who has not been photographed in years, and the smear campaign orchestrated by senior leaders against the Labour and Green parties during the 2005 general election.

But Crown prosecutor Michael Blaschke used his opening address to let the jury know just how different the defendant and his peers were from everyone else.

Blaschke explained how members of the group – also known as Plymouth Brethren – would keep themselves apart from those outside the movement.

A family violence counsellor who knew the defendant – he was ordered by a judge to do an anti-violence course after abusing his wife for years, which ended in him being jailed for marital rape – said he would not eat or drink with fellow course participants.

He was not even able to watch the videos used in the course due to his religious affiliation, the counsellor said. Television and radio were both out of the question - while groups like Gloriavale have let documentary makers in, there's no likelihood of an equivalent for the Exclusive Brethren.

Women are subservient in the church, the trial heard, which Blaschke said was why the defendant "helped himself to sex", leading to the marital rape convictions.

But the machinations after those marital rapes give real insight. The defendant's then-wife got a protection order through the Family Court, rescuing herself and the children from their abusive husband and father.

Instead of supporting the wife after what she had been through – constant rapes at the hand of someone who was supposed to love her – the trial heard she was "shut up" by the church.

That meant she could not associate with anyone in the church, not even her parents, without the permission of elders.

One of the woman's daughters confirmed that, saying the same rules applied to the children.

The lawyer who helped the woman get the order made a note of her feelings. "[The woman] made it very clear she felt she was the bad one in this because she was stepping outside the church, and [her husband] was the good guy because he was staying in the church.

"She felt she was at real risk because the church was the most important thing to the Brethren."

The trial heard the order only lasted months, with the woman going to a different lawyer to get the protection order waived.

A group of Exclusive Brethren members accompanied her, something her first lawyer was worried about. "The Brethren had a lot of pressure on her, because being in the fold was important."

The woman also signed a contract, saying her son would be raised in the teachings of the Exclusive Brethren church and cared for by the son's paternal grandparents – Exclusive Brethren members.


The church dominated almost all parts of members' lives outside church meetings every weeknight. There was church every Saturday. Sunday was taken up by religious meetings.

There were also working bees on Saturdays, which the defendant often took part in instead of spending time with his family.

While giving evidence in his defence, the defendant expressed regret about his dedication to the church over his family.

Blaschke said it made the defendant look like "a good Brethren" – something he was not at home.

He struck his children with his hands and boots. He used a large wooden spoon to dish out punishment well above what was reasonable. He repeatedly raped his wife in their marital bed.

The jury found he did the same to his son in the bathroom, his workplace and an isolated beach.

The closing arguments from defence and Crown lawyers were littered with religious references.

Defence lawyer Fergus Steedman gave the jury a paraphrased version of the parable of the prodigal son – a son rejects his father, goes out to the world, ends up broke, schleps home in shame, but is still welcomed back with open arms by his father.

But Blaschke perhaps summed it up best when he echoed the Ten Commandments. "The sins of the father have been laid bare for all to see."

The father will be sentenced in August.

- Stuff

Peter W Harrison
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Re: Rape trial gives rare insight into secretive Exclusive Brethren church

Post by Peter W Harrison » Thu May 17, 2018 1:37 am

Thank you Lady Kiwi for posting these press releases of the trial at Palmerston North High court. These press reports were given prominence in the local Manawatu-Wanganui Standard newspaper. It is interesting that the background culture of Exclusive Brethren was of prime interest in the hearing. I feel that this was more than providing satisfaction for public appetite, rather it was responsible journalism- it was time the public knew the facts. I feel that the press reports while shocking, were fair and balanced and may lift the lid on further coverups.

This may (or may not) be an extreme case, but I suggest that within the culture there exists an attitude to sex which was expressed by council for prosecution as licence to “help himself to sex”. I don’t think it would be difficult to identify ‘ministry’ which in some individuals could nurture such predatory behaviour. Indeed it remains to me a question as to whether rapacious predation is a fundamental, driving characteristic of the hierarchy.
Last edited by Peter W Harrison on Thu May 17, 2018 4:15 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Rape trial gives rare insight into secretive Exclusive Brethren church

Post by fisherman » Thu May 17, 2018 3:21 am

While I suggest that when you take a group of 40,000 people it would not be unusual to find a percentage of abberent behaviours,the diference in this case is that the exclusive brethrens 'closed door' policy provides the secrecy that enables purpetrators to act with impunity,the chances of being exposed are slim, and even if it was, the brethren don't go 'outside' ....that plus untrained 'priests' are at best woefully unable to deal with the psychological implications to victims.BDH's claim that 'we share the communities revulsion and will work with the authorities' appears to be nothing more than damage control ,there seems little evidence brethren have actually done what they said they will do.Beyond that ,what rankles many of us is rather than openly admiting these aberent behaviours,the brethren seem to still try and say they are superior to the everybody else..and for people whose main claim to fame is a 'judgement' of evil, the whitewash is wearing a bit thin..

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