Man on trial for sex crimes against Gloriavale children

Jonathan Benjamin is accused of 20 charges. Photo: RNZ
Jonathan Benjamin is accused of 20 charges. Photo: RNZ
The trial of a man accused of committing serious sexual offending against children at Gloriavale will begin this morning in Greymouth.

Jonathan Benjamin is charged with various sexual offences against children and young women, including four counts of rape, from his time with the reclusive Christian community between 1986 and 2017.

At least one of the complainants was aged 12 or younger at the time of the alleged offending.

Some of the charges date back to the community's former Springbank site in North Canterbury, while others related to his time at the current site in Haupiri, on the West Coast.

Benjamin entered not guilty pleas to 20 charges when he appeared on Monday, but pleaded guilty to one charge of indecent assault of a girl aged 12-16.

Three of the charges were representative, meaning multiple offences of the same type were alleged to have been committed in similar circumstances.

A jury of six women and six men was empanelled on Monday, with Judge Mark Callaghan expected to begin opening remarks today. 

The trial has been set down for three weeks at Greymouth District Court.