Sect Party Nights Face Challenge In Court
Sydney Morning Herald/1992-09-18
By COL ALLISON
After "dress-up" dance parties organised by members of the religious sect The Family, "scantily clad" adults sometimes became involved in sexual activities witnessed by children, the Cobham Children's Court was told yesterday.
The allegation was made by the main witness in the sect child-care inquiry, Ms Pauline Rockley, the Campbelltown manager of the Department of Community Services. She was responding to questions from Mr Mark Trench, counsel for 65 sect children the department wants to place in State care. The questions were about an interview with a five-year-old boy.
Mr Trench had asked what possible concern the department could have about adults holding dance parties: "What's wrong with scantily dressed parents dancing around in the privacy of their own home?"
"With no underclothes on?" Ms Rockley replied. "That depends on what happens."
When asked to explain, she began: "I have information that at times after parent nights there ..."
She was cut off by an objection from a counsel for the parents, Mr Robert Cavanagh, who said: "Your Worship, I object to the continuing speculation of this witness. There's too much speculation and not enough material of a highly probable nature being put forward."
When the objection was overruled by the magistrate, Mr Ian Forsyth, Ms Rockley continued: "I have been told that sometimes after parent night dances or parties adults become involved in sexual activities, and children have seen it."
Mr Trench asked Ms Rockley, the formal applicant for care of the children -who the department claims have been sexually abused and brainwashed -if a witness would be giving this evidence.
Ms Rockley said she believed so.
Mr Trench said the department's interviewer - talking to the child in temporary care days after a raid on three sect houses on May 15 - had not taken the questioning far enough.
Ms Rockley agreed that, in the circumstances, the interview was of little use to the department in determining whether the child had been exposed to sexual experiences or literature of an inappropriate nature.
In another interview, a six-year-old sect boy allegedly boasted he had made love to a four-year-old girl. "I've done it," he said.
The boy said he had done it on the floor with a pillow under them, and other children and an "auntie" had watched.
The aunt had said: "It didn't matter ... she didn't mind."
Asked if his penis was hard or soft, the boy replied "hard" and he had "put it inside".
Mr Trench asked Ms Rockley, "Inside what?" and she said: "It (the interview) didn't say."
Ms Rockley agreed that the incident could have been just "peer play" but queried where the boy had learnt such behaviour.
A 13-year-old boy told an interviewer that "Grandpa" (David Berg), the 73-year-old reclusive founder of the cult the Children of God, from which The Family evolved, wrote letters from Japan. Some were marked for children and others for adults only.
The boy said the ones marked for parents were "locked in a trunk in the basement and only Uncle R has the key".