GRAPHIC CONTENT: Some readers may find this court report highly disturbing.
A now-jailed Christian pastor had a long career travelling the country preaching the word of God, but behind closed doors he spent years sexually violating his own young son.
“You presented yourself to the world as a man of God, promoting Christian values, while in your home you engaged in conduct that was the very antithesis of what you preached,” Justice John Burns told the child sex offender during his ACT Supreme Court sentencing on Wednesday (28 July).
The man, who is now in his late 60s but cannot be named, began sexually abusing his son Sam* in the late 1990s when the boy was only 11 years old. The abuse continued until the boy was 15.
Abuse frequently occurred on Saturday mornings when the pastor would summon Sam to his matrimonial bed.
Justice Burns said Sam recalled a specific incident when he was in Year 6 and was watching cartoons with his father in their loungeroom.
They started playfighting, but then his father began sexually assaulting him. When his mother appeared in the room and Sam hoped she would step in and stop the abuse, his father waved her away with one hand and she left.
Justice Burns told the pastor that as Sam’s father he was able to exert some control over him, along with being a person whom his son loved and trusted.
But he said the regular abuse had “blighted” his son’s life.
“There can be no real doubt that you engaged in this conduct for the purpose of sexual gratification,” Justice Burns told him.
Justice Burns said the sex offender had been a pastor for more than 30 years but stood down from his role in the 2010s after his son confronted him over the abuse.
He told the court the pastor had expressed a fascination with men’s sexuality, particularly homosexuality, and had alleged he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a child himself.
The pastor pleaded guilty to a charge of maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person, as well as two counts of committing an act of indecency on a young person.
Justice Burns sentenced him to three years and two months’ jail with a non-parole period of 20 months. He will be eligible to be released in March 2023.
In response to the sentence, the only movements made by the white-haired pastor appearing over the audiovisual link and wearing a face mask were to blink rapidly.
*Not the son’s real name.
If this story has raised any concerns for you, 1800RESPECT, the national 24-hour sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line, can be contacted on 1800 737 732. Help and support are also available through The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 02 6247 2525, The Domestic Violence Crisis Service ACT 02 6280 0900, and Lifeline: 13 11 14. In an emergency call 000.