The leader of a secretive religious group based on the Upper Orara has appeared in court on 14 charges of aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent.
Senior Christian Assemblies International (CAI) pastor Anthony Scott Williams appeared in Coffs Harbour Local Court on Tuesday with police alleging the offences were aggravated by his use of his position as the Overseer (highest authority) of the organisation of which the victims were members.
The charges included indecent assault of a victim under the authority of the offender; assault with an act of indecency; aggravated sexual assault of a victim under the authority of the offender and sexual intercourse without the consent of the victim.
Mr Williams, 65, of Christian Assemblies International Pacific Headquarters at Wayper Creek Road, Upper Orara, was on bail after being arrested on June 5 following allegations that he had had sexual intercourse without consent with a member of his church.
The charges involved two different male victims, both allegedly members of CAI at the time, and related to alleged offences on a variety of occasions between 2002 and 2005 in Coffs Harbour, Upper Orara and Byron Bay.
CAI cult linked by the internet
Christian Assemblies International (CAI) has been described as one of the first internet cults.
The members of the Pentecostal Christian group do not all live together permanently in communes, but are linked electronically with their pastors and church leaders.
The Pacific Headquarters for CAI are in an impressive park-like compound of about 285 acres made up of an isolated valley, Cedar Valley on Wayper Creek Road at Dairyville. The buildings of Pacific HQ are set among rolling lawns and manicured grounds with a swimming pool and a large barbecue area on the banks of the creek.
The compound is enclosed with a high wire fence, with impressive gates, but members of the group at times open the gates to invited non-members for barbecues and religious discussions,
Three years ago a number of former CAI members in Coffs Harbour, many of whom had moved to the Coffs Coast from Europe with CAI, began to leave the organisation, which they now describe as a cult.
More than 10 of those who have left have said their reasons for leaving revolved around the leadership of the organisation and their inability to make changes within CAI.
Many of them have remained on the Coffs Coast and joined other churches.
Christian Assemblies International is a sect of Revival Centres International. Theologically both groups are considered to be cults of Christianity.
Revival Centres International — Freedom of Mind entry