Man charged with sex offences at Gloriavale

A man has faced court accused of historical sex crimes at the secretive Gloriavale Christian Community.

Aged in his 40s, he appeared in Greymouth District Court yesterday to answer two counts of unlawful sexual connection and two of indecent assault, police say.

"As a result of investigations into historic offending at Gloriavale, police this month made an arrest," a spokesman said.

The man has been granted name suppression until his next appearance on October 3.

The isolated West Coast community has faced investigations in recent years including a police probe in 2015, although authorities declined to specify what kind of allegations they were looking into for privacy reasons.

Charities Services also began investigating the fundamentalist group the same year, after media reports members were leaving amid allegations of enforced marriage, sexual and physical abuse and forced separation of families.

That 18-month probe ultimately concluded Gloriavale's leadership was working to fix legal issues around members being made to hand over everything upon joining and other complaints.

But Charities Services found allegations of sexual abuse were best handled by police.

Gloriavale was founded in the 1960s by Australian-born evangelical preacher Neville Cooper, 89, also known as Hopeful Christian.

The community, near Greymouth, has more than 500 members, including 55 families.

 

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