Former cult member avoids jail in molestation case

A former member of a reputed Eastside cult avoided jail time Monday when a juvenile court judge suspended his sentence on the condition that he completes sexual deviancy treatment.

Steve A. Belzak, 19, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of child molestation. A judge conditionally suspended his sentence of 30-40 weeks in custody and placed him on probation for two years.

In addition to treatment, prosecutors said, Belzak also must register as a sex offender and steer clear of drugs, alcohol and any kind of sexually explicit material.

Belzak was one of three young men accused of sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy over three years beginning in 2000 while living together at an all-male home operated by the Tridentine Latin Rite Church home in Sammamish.

The mother of the now-13-year-old boy went to Bellevue police in April 2004 after her son told her he had been molested at the home.

Since her son was 2, the woman told detectives, he had been raised by the men and other boys who lived at the house. She said the church was a cult, and she was allowed to visit her son only twice a year.

She spent those years living with her daughters and other female members of the church at an all-female home in Bellevue. It wasn’t until she left the church last year that she learned of her son’s abuse, prosecutors said.

“They were raping him and they were telling him that it was OK, that that’s what everybody does,” the woman told KING 5 News in November. “It’s very hard to admit that these people that I gave my son to, that I trusted, are the very ones that destroyed his innocence.”

Also charged in the case are Justin Kirkland, 20, and Michael W. Muratore, 21.

In November, Kirkland pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree rape of a child and Muratore pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree child molestation.

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Both men were charged as adults and are out of custody, awaiting trial.

The woman’s son told detectives and prosecutors that Muratore was the first to touch him when he was 7 or 8. Three weeks later, he said, Belzak touched him and made him take his clothes off while other boys were sleeping in the room.

He said Kirkland later began molesting him as well. The abuse went on until he was 11, he said.

The King County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted the investigation, agrees the group is a cult, but a spokesman said there are no allegations of organized or ritual abuse.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
King County Journal, USA
Dec. 20, 2005
Noel S. Brady, Journal Reporter

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday December 21, 2005.
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