2 Nov 2010

Leader of Australian Internet-based cult charged with 14 sex offences

The Coffs Coast Advocate - July 17, 2009

by Advocate Reporters

THE leader of a secretive religious group based on the Coffs Coast has appeared in court on 14 charges of aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent.

Senior Christian Assemblies International pastor Anthony Scott Williams appeared in Coffs Harbour Local Court on Tuesday with police alleging the offences were aggravated by his use of his position as the Overseer (highest authority) of the organisation of which the victims were members.

The charges included indecent assault of a victim under the authority of the offender; assault with an act of indecency; aggravated sexual assault of a victim under the authority of the offender and sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim.

Mr Williams, 65, of Christian Assemblies International Pacific Headquarters at Wayper Creek Road, Upper Orara, was on bail after being arrested on June 5 following allegations that he had had sexual intercourse without consent with a member of his church.

The charges involved two different male victims, both allegedly members of CAI at the time and related to alleged offences on a variety of occasions between 2002 and 2005 in Coffs Harbour, Upper Orara and Byron Bay.

The charges allege that Mr Williams had sexual intercourse with one of the victims on a number of occasions, knowing the victim was not consenting.

It was alleged that on other occasions Mr Williams touched the same victim's penis and masturbated him, again without his consent.

Scott Williams was required to surrender his passports as part of his continuing bail conditions; to report weekly to Coffs Harbour Police; not to leave NSW and to continue living at his present residence at the CAI Pacific Headquarters at Wayper Creek Road in Upper Orara.

He was also required not to approach former members of Christian Assemblies International.

The case was adjourned to Coffs Harbour Local Court for mention on November 10.

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Cai cult linked by the internet

CHRISTIAN Assemblies International (CAI) has been described as one of the first internet cults.

The members of the Pentecostal Christian group do not all live together permanently in communes, but are linked electronically with their pastors and church leaders.

The Pacific Headquarters for CAI are in an impressive park-like compound of about 285 acres made up of an isolated valley, Cedar Valley on Wayper Creek Road at Dairyville. The buildings of Pacific HQ are set among rolling lawns and manicured grounds with a swimming pool and a large barbecue area on the banks of the creek.

The compound is enclosed with a high wire fence, with impressive gates, but members of the group at times open the gates to invited non-members for barbecues and religious discussions,

Three years ago a number of former CAI members in Coffs Harbour, many of whom had moved to the Coffs Coast from Europe with CAI, began to leave the organisation, which they now describe as a cult.

More than 10 of those who have left have said their reasons for leaving revolved around the leadership of the organisation and their inability to make changes within CAI.

Many of them have remained on the Coffs Coast and joined other churches.

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    By Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Janine Cohen, ABC News Four Corners, Australia July 28, 2014

    He is a self-styled evangelist who told his followers he was The Anointed One, chosen by God to convert the world to his beliefs.

    Anyone who didn't follow his word was told they would burn in hell, that he held the key to their salvation on judgement day.

    In reality, Scott Williams was a cult leader who used his own brand of religion to warp biblical scripture in the pursuit of sex, money and power.

    Scott Williams left Australia 38 years ago, converting hundreds of young people throughout Europe. On the outside, life appeared happy. But now, former cult members reveal to Four Corners a lifetime of secretive abuse, misplaced worship and horrifying punishments carried out under the guise of obedience to 'The Overseer', Scott Williams. Their stories are so shocking, their brainwashing so profound, it is almost unbelievable. As one former member explained:

    "It's not simple to walk out. No. I wish I could. I tried. I tried a few times. It's a curious web and it was like he's the spider and he's got you there and you can't get out of the bloody spider web."

    This week, reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna investigates the rise of Scott Williams and his incredible path around the world and back to Australia, exposing how he created a hell on earth for many followers. Controlling almost everything they did, members say they were threatened, beaten, subjected to horrifying and bizarre sexual rituals - and even their children were taken away and given to others to raise for a time.

    All the while, Scott Williams amassed a fortune from his members.

    Finally, the police caught up with him - but would Scott Williams be brought to justice? And how can his Assembly still be operating in Australia?

    Following a four year investigation by Meldrum-Hanna, the story of Scott Williams can be told thanks to a group of courageous, key former members. Brutalised and abused, they eventually broke free from the cult. And now they break their silence publically for the first time and tell of their tormented years following the book according to Scott.

    CULT OF HORRORS, reported by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 28th July on ABC at 8.30 pm. It is repeated on Tuesday 29th July at 11.00 am and 11.35 pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00 pm, at ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.


  2. ABC investigation reveals claims of abuse in NSW cult

    by Alexandra Back, The Sydney Morning Herald July 28, 2014

    Self-appointed religious guru Pastor Scott Williams used his NSW-based pseudo-Christian cult to run a homosexual sex ring and steal money from his followers, a four-year ABC investigation has revealed.

    Four Corners spoke to more than a dozen men who say Williams compelled them to perform sex acts.

    Former member Gunther Frantz says he was 12 year-old when he first started to be indoctrinated in Williams' organisation, the Christian Assemblies International.

    He told the ABC how Williams would be in the centre of a group being touched by a male member of the cult.

    "I think the biggest one I ever remember was 80 males in rooms covered only in naked bodies, and everybody giving massages," he said. "And Scott always had his personal private room with one or two at the end of any of those sessions. And then at two o'clock he sends everybody out of the room and out of everywhere else and he usually picks somebody to stay with him, to get more training."

    Mr Frantz said Williams had brainwashed him, telling them that "anyone who is not within the church is a heathen who is going to burn in hell, and they either convert or die, and you have nothing to do with them".

    He and other former members say the group is not a religion, but a shocking cult that abuses its followers and that does not deserve its charitable status in Australia.

    Members were also told to donate 10 per cent of their income to the Assemblies as part of their membership in the group.

    The group is a registered charity in Australia.

    It started in the German town of Feldafin in the 1970s, its headquarters are now in Coffs Harbour.

    Williams and other senior members of the group declined the ABC's requests for interviews.

    The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the national charity regulator, has pledged to investigate the allegations.

    see photo at:


  3. Four Corners cult case highlights need for charity watchdog: Senator Nick Xenophon

    BY DANUTA KOZAKI Yahoo!7 News Australia July 29, 2014

    The case of a registered charity under investigation for alleged misuse of funds and sexual abuse shows the need for an independent regulator, independent Senator Nick Xenophon has said.

    The comments followed the ABC's Four Corners program on the Christian Assemblies International organisation in Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

    Mr Xenophon said the case showed the "foolishness" of the Federal Government's plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

    "It would mean that organisations that are behaving unethically, that are dodgy, would still be getting taxpayer funding in effect due to [their] tax-free status," he said.

    The Federal Government's options paper for the future of Australia's Charities and Not-for-Profits said the Government was "committed to introducing effective replacement arrangements to reduce the burden of regulation on the civil society sector".

    That could include "self reporting requirements and returning determination of charitable status to the Australian Tax Office", the paper said.

    ACNC commissioner Susan Pascoe said she could not comment on specific cases, but the commission had dealt with about 900 complaints in its 18 months of operation.

    "About 60 of those have translated into very serious cases that we've followed through," she said.

    Reverend Tim Costello, from the Community Council for Australia, said some charities could slip through the cracks if the national watchdog was abolished.

    The council represents about 80 major charities, including the RSPCA and World Vision Australia, of which Rev Costello is chief executive.

    He said most of the sector was dismayed by the proposal, which he said would generate more red tape.

    "For the first time, the charitable sector, which is worth $100 billion and is second only in employment to retail in Australia, actually has a one-stop shop where they can investigate," he said.

    "They can compare apples with apples, rather than being [managed by] the Australian Tax Office, which is where we'll go back to if [the commission] is abolished."

    No-one was available for comment from Christian Assemblies International.