By Caro Meldrum-Hanna and Janine Cohen
Monday 28th July 2014
He is a self-styled evangelist who told his followers he was The Anointed One, chosen by God to convert the world to his beliefs.
Anyone who didn’t follow his word was told they would burn in hell, that he held the key to their salvation on judgement day.
In reality, Scott Williams was a cult leader who used his own brand of religion to warp biblical scripture in the pursuit of sex, money and power.
Scott Williams left Australia 38 years ago, converting hundreds of young people throughout Europe. On the outside, life appeared happy. But now, former cult members reveal to Four Corners a lifetime of secretive abuse, misplaced worship and horrifying punishments carried out under the guise of obedience to ‘The Overseer’, Scott Williams. Their stories are so shocking, their brainwashing so profound, it is almost unbelievable. As one former member explained:
“It’s not simple to walk out. No. I wish I could. I tried. I tried a few times. It’s a curious web and it was like he’s the spider and he’s got you there and you can’t get out of the bloody spider web.”
This week, reporter Caro Meldrum-Hanna investigates the rise of Scott Williams and his incredible path around the world and back to Australia, exposing how he created a hell on earth for many followers. Controlling almost everything they did, members say they were threatened, beaten, subjected to horrifying and bizarre sexual rituals – and even their children were taken away and given to others to raise for a time.
All the while, Scott Williams amassed a fortune from his members.
Finally, the police caught up with him – but would Scott Williams be brought to justice? And how can his Assembly still be operating in Australia?
Following a four year investigation by Meldrum-Hanna, the story of Scott Williams can be told thanks to a group of courageous, key former members. Brutalised and abused, they eventually broke free from the cult. And now they break their silence publically for the first time and tell of their tormented years following the book according to Scott.
CULT OF HORRORS, reported by Caro Meldrum-Hanna and presented by Kerry O’Brien, goes to air on Monday 28th July on ABC at 8.30 pm. It is repeated on Tuesday 29th July at 11.00 am and 11.35 pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00 pm, at ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.
KEY REPORTS AND DOCUMENTS
CAI Statement to 4 Corners – Statement from the Christian Assembly International in relation to the Four Corners report “Cult of Horrors”
List of Commandments for CAI members – Read the internal document listing the 1,050 New Testament Commandments that all ‘Christians’ must adhere to.
Household Management Guidelines for CAI Women – A detailed list of instructions on how women should act, parent and manage the home.
Article on ‘The spirit of Jezebel’ – This article outlines the manipulative and ‘controlling spirit’ of women defined as ‘jezebels’. The article was distributed to members of Christian Assemblies International.
“Confession” by Scott Williams – A confidential letter by Scott Williams admitting to “actions of amorous affection which has/have gone beyond the borders of decency and breached partial homosexuality.”
Christian Assemblies International: Former members detail abuse handed out by CAI leader Scott Williams | ABC News | 28 Jul 2014 A four-year investigation by the ABC has uncovered shocking claims of abuse and torment in relation to NSW-based registered charity and religious group Christian Assemblies International (CAI).
Cult boss on 14 sex charges | The Coffs Coast Advocate | 17 Jul 2009 – The leader of a secretive religious group based on the Coffs Coast has appeared in court on 14 charges of aggravated indecent assault, sexual assault and sexual intercourse without consent.
Cai cult linked by the internet | The Coffs Coast Advocate | 17 Jul 2009 – 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.
Pastor charged with sex crimes on parishioners | Daily Examiner | 18 Jul 2009 – 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.
Our Hell with the Cult | Sunday Mail | 22 Mar 1998 – A family trapped in a bizarre religious cult claim they were BRAINWASHED and forced into an arranged marriage.
Christian group linked to KKK | Cult Education Institute | 21 Jul 1999 – Controversy has erupted over the revelation that the mayor of the NSW tourist city of Coffs Harbor, and one of its councillors, head a group whose parent body is linked to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organisations such as the Ku Klux Klan… Cr Burton and the Mayor, Cr John Smith, organise weekly meetings of a Coffs Harbor chapter of the Christian Identity movement.
Cult Information and Family Support – CIFS is an Australian support and information network for parents and family members of people involved in “abusive groups”
Lifeline | 13 11 14 – An Australian counselling service that respects everyone’s right to be heard, understood and cared for.
MensLine Australia | 1300 78 99 78 (24hrs)
National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service | 1800 737 732
BACKGROUND ON CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLES INTERNATIONAL
Filed under: Christian Assemblies International |