6 May 2011

Judge who convicted man for child sex blames his childhood in The Family International for skewed view on sexuality

Herald Sun   -  Australia    May 6, 2011

Man's child sex addiction blamed on religious cult upbringing

Tony Keim  |  From:The Courier-Mail

A FORMER member of religious sect that condoned pubescent child sex counted eight schoolgirls among his more than 100 sexual conquests who he met via an adult internet chat room, a court has been told.

The Brisbane District Court was told Nathaniel Francis Enright, 30, tried to procure a child as young has 12 for sex and actually molested or had sex with seven other girls - aged 14 and 15 - that he met “on-line” between November 2008 and February 2009.

The court was told Enright was raised as a member of the "strict religious group'' The Family International - known also as the "Children of God'' - and as a result had a "skewed view'' on who he could have sexual contact with.

Barrister Angus Edwards, for Enright, said his client, who left the sect at the age of 16, was raised in an environment which condoned sexual contact between children once they had reached puberty.

Enright, a former airline employee, was today jailed for five years and placed on two year's probation after pleading guilty to 51 criminal charges - including five of taking away a child for immoral purposes and three of having sex with them.

However, the sentence imposed will see Enright, who has already spent 15-months in pre-sentence custody, released on February 6 next year.

Enright, who was at the time aged between 28 and 29, also pleaded guilty to more than 30 counts of indecent treatment or exposing a child under 16 to indecent material or act, and eight of using the web to procure or groom underage children for sex.

Prosecutor David Meredith said Enright, who was at the time based in New Zealand, met all of his victims via internet chat rooms.

He said Enright would engage in explicit sexual dialogue with the children and encourage them to meet for physical encounters.

"The combination of (Enright's) offences is quite extraordinary,'' Mr Meredith said.

"(Enright was) quite persistent and there is an extraordinary number of contacts ... (with underage) girls willing to meet up with him.''

Mr Edwards said Enright met the girls via a chat room designed for people aged 18 and over - suggesting the children would have to have logged in as being adults themselves.

"(Enright claims) there were more than 100 women he met up with and had sexual (encounters),'' he said.

Mr Edwards tendered a psychological report which asserted Enright was not a pedophile, but that he simply had a compulsive addiction to sex as the result of his religious up-bringing.

The court was told even during his time in prison Enright's sexual proclivities compelled him to pleasure himself on a daily basis.

Judge Nick Samios, in sentencing Enright, said: "You procured some of these young girls to engage in (actual) sexual contact.''

"You appear to have a skewed view of who you could have sexual contact with because of your (religious) up-bringing ... (and you are) addicted to sex.''

Judge Samios said that addiction to sex resulted in Enright taking "opportunistic and indiscriminate'' steps to secure sexual partners.

This article was found at:


Denied an education in The Family International abuse survivor explains how she wrote her first novel

Novelist describes how she survived childhood of abuse and neglect growing up in The Family International, aka, Children of God

Author's debut novel draws on personal experiences growing up in abusive Children of God cult, a.k.a. The Family International

UK survivor confirms mother's fears about abusive cult The Family International that tried to recruit her teen daughter

Fugitive leaders of The Family International found hiding in Mexico after former members sought psychological help

Family International a.k.a. Children of God: Once dismissed as 'sex cult,' tiny church launches image makeover


  1. Sex offender deported to Christchurch

    by KEITH LYNCH, stuff.co.nz February 1, 2012

    A man who blamed his religious sect upbringing for driving him to have sex with teenagers will be deported to Christchurch next week.

    Nathaniel Francis Enright, 32, will be released from a Brisbane prison on February 6 and flown to Christchurch.

    Last May, Enright was jailed for five years and placed on two years' probation after pleading guilty to 51 charges. As he had already spent 15 months in custody, he will be released next week.

    Brisbane media reports at the time of the conviction said Enright convinced a child as young as 12 to have sex with him, and molested or had sex with seven girls, aged 14 and 15, whom he met online between November 2008 and February 2009.

    Counsel Angus Edwards told the court Enright was raised as a member of a religious group, the Family International, also known as the Children of God. As a result, he had a "skewed view" on whom he could have sex with.

    Prosecutor David Meredith told the court Enright met all his victims in internet chatrooms. He would engage in explicit sexual conversation and encourage the underage teens to meet him.

    A court report in Australian paper the Herald Sun said Enright was in New Zealand at the time of the offending.

    However, a spokesman for the Department of Justice and Attorney-General in Queensland said the charges were brought under Queensland's criminal code and the alleged offences would have taken place in Queensland.

    Last month, an anonymous caller told The Press Enright would soon return to Christchurch, where he is believed to be from.

    Christchurch police are aware of his return. They will be given his address on his arrival and will monitor him.

    On the datingpsychos.com website, a woman wrote that she met Enright in 2004 or 2005 when she was 15 or 16.

    "He told me he was 18, which, being young and naive, I believed. I met up with him a few times and each time he insisted on having sex.

    "He takes advantage of young girls who don't know any better", she said.

    A spokesman for The Family International said blaming a religious upbringing was a common tactic: "The movement will immediately expel and excommunicate any member deemed guilty of physical or sexual abusive behaviour towards children."


  2. "A spokesman for The Family International said blaming a religious upbringing was a common tactic:"

    And a common tactic of cult leaders and their spokespersons is to blame problems like this on a few rotten apples. What this news report does not reveal is that it is the teachings of The Family International, formerly the Children of God, that encouraged this sexual abuser.

    This cult encouraged adult-child sexual activity in their writings, and then later claimed to reverse their position and condemn it. One of the problems is that they do not consider that all sexual activity with children is abusive. Notice in their official statement that they excommunicate for abusive behaviour, but if they don't consider fondling a child abusive, for example, then that would not be an excommunicable offense.

    And that is exactly what the current leader of The Family International, Karen Zerby, also known as Maria and several other aliases, believes. She wrote that sexually fondling children is not abusive. She also wrote about one teen girl who had been raped that she should just get over it and that the adults counselling her should not make a big deal out of it.

    The Family International has absolutely no credibility at all.

  3. How Can You Be Relevant When You Grew Up in a Religious Cult?

    By Cristina Black, L.A. Weekly January 24 2013

    With the recent release of his solo album Lysandre, much is being made (again) of former Girls singer Christopher Owens' uncommon upbringing in the Children of God cult, which disallows exposure to mainstream culture. Owens still seems a little bitter about it. "Show me any American movie about the high school experience," he told the New York Times, "and I become extremely jealous and sad that I didn't have that."

    He isn't alone. Several stylistically distinct artists have vast stores of scripture in the part of the brain where most of us have the lyrics to 36 Chambers or at least Oops!...I Did It Again. Grimes, for one, has spoken out about her exposure to medieval-style Christian mysticism. Jonathan Pierce of the Drums and singer-songwriter Diane Birch grew up, like Kings of Leon's Followill brothers, under the influence of evangelical types. Rookie rapper Angel Haze, too, was forbidden to listen to secular tunes for fear of hell's fire.

    Haze is a bit of a potty mouth for a lady who grew up a church-goer. But indeed, she was cut off from ungodly music until age 16. She's 21 now, which leaves only half a decade of catch-up time. Her spitfire flow is largely self-taught. "I'm still really unexposed to the music of my generation," she told me last summer. "I only really got into Lauryn Hill recently. I've never heard any Biggie song completely in my life."

    One artist she did lose her mind to, once the floodgates busted open, was Eminem. She recently released a reworked version of his 2002 hit "Cleanin' Out My Closet" with intense verses about her own childhood sexual abuse. It's unclear from the song whether or not the abuser was associated with the Greater Apostolic Faith, the church her mother belonged to, but eventually rejected.

    In general though, Haze, like Owens, seems to feel left out because of her musically sheltered youth. "It is really hard for me to be in this culture with the limited knowledge that I have about it," she says. "It's like I'm growing into something that isn't a part of it." Which, by the way, she considers a plus. "I can't steal from anyone if I don't know what they're about."

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  4. Pierce, of the Drums, doesn't give much credence to the suggestion that his Pentecostal past shaped him as an artist. "I don't think my upbringing, the religious side of it influenced me, except that it turned me towards other things that did influence me," he told me upon the release of his band's 2011 release, Portamento.

    Still, the album addresses spiritual questions right up front, opening with "Book of Revelation," a song that straight-up denies any sort of afterlife. "I've seen the world and there's no heaven and there's no hell," Pierce coos on the chorus. "And I believe that when we die, we die." He confirms the belief the song sets forth: "I have a hard time empathizing with anyone who believes in any sort of God. Atheism seems to give you a sense of urgency. If this is all there is, I better do something with it." Like run away from a cult-like situation, maybe.
    Grimes embraces the dramatic side of it all. Her orthodox Catholic childhood provided inspiration for some of the sweeping, gothy soundscapes and themes on her 2012 album Visions. At least one of the record's standout tracks, "Genesis," was inspired by her extremist education. "I went to this terrible school where we didn't learn anything because we were always in church," she explained in an interview for Foam Magazine just before the album's release. "I just remember sitting there in this reverb chamber, with the choir singing in Latin and this violent image of a man nailed to a cross. I wrote that song to replace that feeling, because when it wasn't scary, it was nice."

    Birch seems to relate to that same idea. Her album Bible Belt has no internal church references, but she explains the title on more general terms. "The bible was the center of the household for me and it represented strength," she says. But she too has grown up to reject the Seventh Day Adventist beliefs she was born to.

    It's worth noting that Haze, Pierce and Owens identify as gay, bisexual or pan-sexual, lifestyles that probably wouldn't be tolerated in their parents' faiths, which only reinforces the alternative music pantheon's identity as a salon for rebels and outcasts who take issue with societal conditions thrust upon them. It's a safe place for those who had no hope of fitting in.


  5. Rapper Angel Haze on religion, rape and survival

    Five years ago she escaped from a religious 'cult' where music was banned. Today, she is one of hip-hop's most outspoken voices with her raw personal tales of rape and sexual abuse

    by Alex Macpherson The Guardian January 31, 2013

    'Hi, this is me, I have scars to show you." The 20-year-old rapper Angel Haze begins talking casually about the most raw, unflinching song she has written but her words soon pour out, as though she has practised them in her head for years. "When I listened back, I felt disgusted. I wanted everyone to feel that. It was good that they felt it, because it was fucking wrong. I want someone who's a father to listen to the song, and be like: 'No one had better ever fucking touch my daughter like that. And if they do, you can tell me.'"

    Quietly uploaded to her Soundcloud account last October, Cleaning Out My Closet – a version of the Eminem track of the same name – tackles the sexual abuse Haze endured between the ages of seven and 10. She spares the listener nothing: the graphic details of what happens to her body, the fury and trauma that run through her mind. Redemption comes at the end, but not before you're left physically reeling. "There are people who go through this shit every day, and people turn a blind eye," says Haze. "They're too scared to say what happened to them. To make people feel uncomfortable." Of all the responses she has had, the ones she treasures most are from fellow survivors. "Surprisingly, more boys than girls," she muses. "A lot of guys were like: 'I've been suffering, I don't know how to love anyone, you really helped me with that.'"

    The brutal catharsis of Cleaning Out My Closet is in keeping with the no-holds-barred honesty that runs through Haze's work. If hip-hop's most fundamental maxim is to keep it real, she not only passes the test but redefines it. Over the six mixtapes she has released to date, she documents and dissects her inner life with dexterous skill and intelligence – from gothic fantasies so dark that Haze's producer nearly downed tools (he couldn't see God in it and tried to get her to change the line "don't scream, don't ask for God" before he'd continue working on it, but eventually backed down) to evocative outpourings of deeply felt love poetry to ruminations on sexuality and religion. (Haze is a self-confessed hopeless romantic: "I'm really obsessed with the idea of love. I have this desire to have this immaculate form of love that really doesn't exist, so my obsession goes on through life and I never find it and I end up miserable. But it makes me a better writer.") When she turns her hand to more traditional battle raps, the ferocity with which she shreds her foes is lent extra significance by her experiences.

    Not that Haze is solely defined by her intensity. When we meet in London she rapidly switches between flippancy and seriousness – a technique likely designed to keep people on their toes. Describing herself as both a "super-sarcastic big bitch" and "really awkward to meet", Haze cracks jokes that you're not quite sure are jokes about the strip clubs she wants to visit later ("I want those hos naked!" she declares before the interview has even started), and dissolves into laughter when describing her rapid-fire rapping technique ("You have to train your mouth to move and your jaw not to lock").

    As a teenager, she posted a video on YouTube called How To Give No Fucks – essentially a step-by-step guide to building up a defence mechanism involving sarcasm, blank facial expressions and a solid dose of self-help. You get the impression it has been put into practice a lot.

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  6. Now signed to a major label and working on her debut album proper, the Detroit native – voted third in the BBC Sound of 2013 poll – is becoming a legitimate force in rap despite her unlikely background. Born Raykeea Wilson, not only is she gay (she describes herself as pansexual) and mixed-race (she taught herself Tsalagi, the language of her Native American forebears), but she was raised within the traditions of the Pentecostal Greater Apostolic Faith, a church that Haze now describes as a cult. "We all lived in the same community, within 10 minutes of each other," she says. "You weren't allowed to talk to anyone outside of that, you weren't allowed to wear jewellery, listen to music, to eat certain things, to date people … you weren't allowed to do pretty much anything. Church was on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. When they did revivals it was every
    day. I used to just crawl under the bench and try to sleep."

    The resentment she now feels is reflected in the religious imagery with which she peppers her most thrilling raps. "I'm challenging saints, and beating they fuckin' asses with the bibles they came with," she spat on an early freestyle on Kanye West's Monster. More concisely, she declared, "I'm Satan, and I'mma take your ass to church now," on last year's New York.

    "I think of religion as something that stains the person," she says. "It's a mindset you can never get free from, it's always in the back of your head. Even mine! I think, am I going to hell for this? Then I have to remind myself that I don't fucking believe in hell!" Haze laughs again, even more uproariously.

    Does she enjoy saying things others might find blasphemous? She leans forward, eyes flashing: "I thrive off that shit."

    When she was 15, she escaped from the church's clutches after her mother fell out with its leaders and they moved to New York City. Unsurprisingly, she found it hard to relate to classmates at school. "It's the worst thing ever," she says, remembering a particularly excruciating incident involving a milkshake and her ignorance of the Kelis song with that title. Now, she is more sanguine. "The first Biggie [Smalls] song I heard was, what, a few months ago? Peter Rosenberg [hip-hop DJ at New York's Hot 97 station] played it to me live on air to embarrass me. I can't remember what it was." But was she embarrassed? Haze laughs contemptuously and emphatically. "No! When I first got signed, I read that Angel Haze shouldn't be a rapper, because she only started listening to music four years ago, she doesn't know anything about rap and she doesn't have enough credentials. That's how most hip-hop heads think, though. Bullshit."

    Haze's refusal to play along with the rap industry's expectations is refreshing, although she has been drawn into a well-publicised Twitter storm involving fellow up-and-coming rapper Azealia Banks. Insults of increasing viciousness flew back and forth – revolving around the question of whether Haze, as an outsider, had any right to record a song called New York – before the pair then traded swiftly-recorded diss tracks.

    When we first meet a few weeks earlier, she sighs when she speaks about rap beef: "A lot of it is male rappers pitting female rappers against each other. A lot of it has to do with female rappers and their insecurities, wanting to be the only one because people have gotten accustomed to seeing that. It doesn't have to be like that. There isn't 'the' male rapper, there are all these dumb niggas out there rapping about dumb shit. Why can't girls have that? I don't partake in it. I've seen a lot of stuff in the press about Azealia and I being, like, friends and whatever … I just have a genuine respect for any female rapper, even the ones I don't particularly think are good."

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  7. When we speak again in late January, she sighs again. "Most people will never know the whole story or the truth behind [what happened with Banks], so for me it's dead and done and in the past. I don't have any problems with anyone." Later that week, she takes once more to YouTube to apologise for being a "bully".

    However, more intriguing was Haze's calling out of Lupe Fiasco on the same mixtape that featured Cleaning Out My Closet in October. The original version of Fiasco's track Bitch Bad (from last year's album Food & Liquor II) saw the rapper attempting to stand up to misogyny, while only digging a hole for himself by blaming women for it. Haze flipped the narrative, detailing exactly how boys and men are shaped by, and end up perpetuating, anti-female attitudes. "Yes!" she exclaims. "I had to embarrass Lupe Fiasco because he did it all wrong. He did the woman-shaming, 'It's your fault, bitch' thing. The feminist in me wouldn't let this live. For me, it was important to portray what he couldn't."

    Was the choice of the Eminem track motivated by similar feelings, given the prevalence of sexual violence in his material, or was that a tribute to his confessionalism?

    "No. I love Eminem for the fact that he uses violent sexual imagery. People don't really get the extent that Eminem's music is emotionally driven. For me, he is clear from my line of fire because I love everything he's done."

    It's the kind of statement that might seem inconsistent with Haze's feminist beliefs but she doesn't seem conflicted. She condemns rappers who trade on rape jokes for mere humour, and thoughtfully muses on the logistics of taking offence. "I feel like my [Native American] heritage isn't important … until I see shit like Gwen Stefani's video." The reference is to the No Doubt video for Looking Hot, in which Stefani wore an eagle-feather plume and a leather fringe designed to portray a Native American woman. "I didn't have a problem," Haze continues, "but then you see white people in America discussing it and saying: Oh, the 'Indians' are mad about nothing. And they don't understand the significance of what she did, how she made us look."

    She shrugs, and refers to How To Give No Fucks once again: as most members of marginalised groups realise, this is often as imperative as fighting back.

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  8. A few weeks later, the issue of rape culture is dominating the media following the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi and allegations of a coverup in an alleged gang rape in Ohio.

    Speaking on the phone, Haze says: "People say, maybe you shouldn't have worn such a short skirt, instead of, maybe you – as a male – shouldn't have raped. And even though it's so prominent in our culture – stories every day! – people always say: You're lying. Every rapist is quick to tell the victim: Nobody's gonna believe you. When I finally told someone, they did nothing about it, and that's the worst thing of all."

    Haze recently found some old photos on Facebook that brought this home to her: of her, pictured with Jerry Sandusky, the former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach, on a college open day. "He was cool and paternal and took us everywhere. To the Skybox at the stadium. To the fucking locker rooms, where it happened." Sandusky was convicted last year of 45 charges of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period.

    Neither of Haze's rapists have ever been convicted. "Yet everyone seems to know," she says tightly. "I want to say I want to bring a case, but I honestly don't know how or where to begin. They'll say, it doesn't matter any more. It was 10 years ago. They'll say it was too long ago."

    She trails off, and starts talking about her forthcoming album. "I'm taking my time to craft this, because you only ever get one debut album and you're judged on it for ever. I want it to be perfect." It doesn't sound intentional, but it's an echo of how Haze's Cleaning Out My Closet ends: "I made it through everything, I made you look like a clown / I'm fucking great, can't fucking hate you, nigga: Look at me now."

    Angel Haze intends for the whole world to look at her as a great, not as a victim: the best revenge.

    Angel Haze's mixtape Reservation can be downloaded at whenitraeens.com

    Her UK tour dates are: 7 May, London Scala (Sold out); 8 May, Brighton Concorde 2; 9 May, London Heaven; 10 May, Birmingham Library; 11 May, Manchester Ruby Lounge; 12 May,Glasgow ABC 2.

    To sample her music and read the links embedded in this article go to:


  9. Former Children of God member threatened police with shotgun

    by Mark Russell, Court Reporter for The Age Australia September 5, 2014

    A former member of the notorious Children of God cult, known as The Family, has been jailed for two years for threatening a police officer with a sawn-off shotgun.

    Joshua Cannane blamed his time in the cult for his paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Cannane, 26, of Croydon, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of possessing the shotgun and one count of using the weapon to resist arrest on February 26 near the Chirnside Park Shopping Centre.

    County Court judge Liz Gaynor said Cannane had pointed the gun at the police officer and warned him he was not going back to jail.

    Cannane was jailed for two years with a non-parole period of 12 months.

    He had been jailed in 2008 for 20 months after slashing a shopper at Knox City Shopping Centre and then stabbing a policeman who was trying to arrest him.
    He was released after serving six months.

    Judge Gaynor said Cannane was the fifth of nine children born to parents who were members of the closed religious community known as the Children of God.
    He was born in NSW but his family came to Victoria when he was aged about one.

    "When you were aged two or three, you were taken briefly by the Department of Human Services officers during the large-scale raid on the Children of God premises," Judge Gaynor told Cannane.

    Police and Department of Human Services officers raided the cult's properties in Victoria in May, 1992, after ex-sect members claimed children were being sexually, physically and psychologically abused.

    The sect had been set up in 1968 by David Berg to encourage free love and communal habitation.

    A total of 128 children - aged between two and 16 and from six communities in both Victoria and NSW - were taken into protective custody before later being released, after no evidence of criminal wrongdoing was found.

    Judge Gaynor said Cannane's parents gradually moved away from the cult, eventually leaving when he was aged 12 or 13.

    "They lived in the community until you were about five and then moved in with another family from the Children of God, or The Family, as it was known, to assist them with the care of a person who was dying of cancer," she said. "The house was in Donvale and together with your siblings and parents and the other family, you shared the house with about 16 or 17 people.

    "The family lived on benefits, donations and assistance from the Children of God."

    After his family left the Children of God, Cannane briefly attended Norwood High School but found it difficult to settle into a conventional school setting and soon left while repeating year 9.

    Cannane hardly left the house for the next three years and became a heavy cannabis smoker before later using heroin and ice.

    Judge Gaynor said Cannane told her he had had a very unhappy childhood while his family were members of the Children of God, "enduring routine harsh punishment and disciplinary measures".

    The judge said Cannane's earliest memory was of being lined up with a number of other children and hit with a stick. "You said the main emotions you experienced as a child were ones of anger and fear."

    Judge Gaynor said while she was not critical of Cannane's parents, his childhood had accounted for the development of "a paranoid attitude to the world" to such an extent he developed a post-traumatic stress disorder.


  10. Hubei police detain three cult members

    By Cao Siqi, Global Times China November 18, 2014

    Sect advocates sexual deviancy

    Three key members of Children of God, a cult with branches worldwide, have been detained by police in Baokang, Hubei Province for illegally organizing cult activities and disrupting social order, police announced on Sunday.

    Hubei police detained three key members surnamed Zhu, Zou and Huan in the township of Xiema on the evening of November 11 after receiving a tip-off from local residents.

    Police at the scene also confiscated written materials about the Children of God. Police said that Zhu, from Henan Province, established five branches in four townships in Hubei and had attracted nearly 100 followers in Baokang and nearby areas in recent years.

    "The cult organized secret meetings on every Sunday and held two conferences on Passover and Christmas," Zhu confessed to police. Zhu said that more than 20 among the 100 members are from other provinces.

    Children of God, currently known as The Family International, was established in the US in 1968, and entered China in 1980 through cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Hangzhou.

    The cult encourages its followers to recruit members and raise funds by religious prostitution. It advocates group living, promiscuity, and child sexuality.

    The State Council and the Ministry of Public Security have identified at least 14 cults since the 1990s, including the "Children of God."

    A Baokang police officer said that Zhu came to Hubei from Henan as he feared that members of his cult would be converted to "Almighty God," another cult identified by authorities and reportedly popular in Hubei.

    "The Almighty God cult has been very active in recent years … Zhu was recruited by the cult and subject to a secret investigation," a police officer surnamed Ouyang told the Global Times.

    According to a statement that Baokang police sent to the Global Times on Monday, the cult has dispatched 37 members from nine countries such as the US, Canada, the UK and France to China to disseminate its doctrine and established more than 100 "families" with over 190 members by the end of 1984.

    Authorities cracked down on the cult after 1984, but since 1990 it has revived, Ouyang said, adding that the cult attacked social systems and ideology.

    "Zhu said almost all the residents in his hometown participated in the cult," Xu Jianhua, a police officer handling the case, told the Global Times.

    The public security ministry has launched a national crackdown on "Almighty God" since June, arresting about 1,000 suspects nationwide in two months.