Former Agape Ministries doomsday cult followers fight for return of their money

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One of two civil claims brought against religious group Agape Ministries may be settled out of court, a lawyer has told the Adelaide District Court.

One of the plaintiffs cannot be named because of a temporary suppression order.

That plaintiff and another former church member, Martin Penney, are suing pastor Rocco Leo and two of his associates, Joe Venziano and Mari-Antionette Veneziano.

They want their money back, claiming they handed over more than $400,000 and $1 million respectively to the church based on lies about a doomsday scenario.

Relatives of church member Raphael Azariah, who is allegedly part of Rocco Leo’s inner circle, attended the latest court hearing.

His mother, Lesley Baligod, and his brother, Joel Baligod, told the ABC they intended being at every hearing to support the plaintiffs.

They said Raphael Azariah was also a victim of the church and they wanted to see that the plaintiffs got their money back.

Ms Baligod said she believed many other people wanted to come forward with civil claims, but were scared.

“A lot of them have been threatened by insiders, with death threats as I understand it,” she said.

– Source / Full Story: Ex-doomsday followers fight for money back, Candice Marcus, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, July 7, 2010 — Summarized by Religion News Blog

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This post was last updated: Jul. 7, 2010