Child Sex Evidence Queried
Sydney Morning Herald/1992-08-25
By COL ALLISON
Some of the 65 children of the religious sect The Family "probably" took part in oral and vaginal sex with their peers, adolescents and adults, an officer from the Department of Community Services told Cobham Children's Court yesterday.
In her first appearance in the witness box since breaking down under cross-examination two weeks ago, Miss Pauline Rockley, the department's Campbelltown district manager, claimed it was probable that young boys and girls had been involved in such sex, although the department did not believe anal sex had occurred.
But she said there was "no specific evidence" of rape, pedophilia, homosexuality or incest. The department based its beliefs on literature seized in the raid on three sect houses in the Hills district of Sydney on May 15, and from former members who would soon give evidence in the care case.
Earlier in the hearing, Miss Rockley said the children - who the department claims are in need of State care after allegedly being brain-washed and sexually abused - had not necessarily been physically molested.
She said then: "We're talking of subtle abuse in some cases. I'm not implying all these children have had sexual intercourse with someone."
Yesterday, counsel for the children, Mr Mark Trench, painstakingly queried Miss Rockley on what specific evidence she had covering every possible form of sexual abuse as applied to the children under the Child (Care and Protection)Act 1987.
Mr Trench asked: "Did, for instance, Miss Rockley have any specific information that any of these children had been threatened in any way immediately before, during or some time after, as some act of indecency was taking place in his or her presence?
"Was there any specific evidence that any person had attempted to have intercourse with children under the age of 10? Or between 10 and 16?
"Do you have any specific information of a male among the 65 children who has had sexual intercourse with his mother, sister, aunt or grandmother?"
To these questions, Miss Rockley replied: "No specific information."
She concluded by saying it was "probable" that some children had been involved in sexual intercourse, being sexually assaulted by indecent touching, or been subjected to oral sex.
When counsel for the department, barrister Ms Robyn Tupman, objected to a"who did it" line of questioning, Mr Trench warned her that if she continued interrupting the witness - "a big girl who can take care of herself" -he or someone else "might make submissions that her (Miss Rockley's) evidence was tainted".
Ms Tupman accused Mr Trench of "grandstanding" and said she was offended and had every right to object as necessary on legal grounds.
Miss Rockley was then shown a 50-page document in which she claimed it was revealed the children had been encouraged to tell lies to fool outsiders about what was really going on inside The Family, formerly known as The Children of God sect.
But Mr Robert Cavanagh, counsel for one group of parents, objected to the document, claiming it was illegally seized by the police.
The magistrate, Mr Ian Forsyth, said that traditionally, under the "broad view" of the criminal code covering illegally obtained evidence, it was generally accepted that if police found evidence that revealed a crime, it became admissible.
He noted Mr Cavanagh's objection and ruled the document was admissible.
The case continues today.