ABC Australia

The wife of a man accused of sexually assaulting members of his congregation has claimed the alleged victims had “an axe to grind” with the Jehovah’s Witnesses church, court documents reveal. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has been charged with more than 50 offences including rape, torture, and procuring sex acts by false pretence.

He withdrew his application for bail at Maroochydore Magistrates Court on Wednesday after the hearing was adjourned on Monday.

According to court documents obtained by the ABC, several victims were allegedly convinced by the defendant to participate in “energy sessions”, which consisted of standing naked in front of a mirror chanting affirmations.

In an affidavit tendered to the Maroochydore Magistrates Court in support of the bail application that was later abandoned, the woman also called the people who had made allegations against her husband “apostates”.

She clarified the term meant the group were “formerly members of our church who are now against our church”.

She claimed in the court documents that another of the alleged victims “chose to embrace a lifestyle contrary to bible teachings”.

Police allege the sex acts against several men, including ex-bible study students, occurred over years at several properties on the Sunshine Coast and in Brisbane.

Some of the offences are also alleged to have occurred at the man’s business premises.

The documents show that police allege the extent of abuse greatly varied between the victims and that in some cases others were present.

‘High and unacceptable risk’

Police say they have struggled to make enquires and approach some witnesses, noting the “secretive closed ranks” of the church.

Police allege two of the victims tried to report to religious elders and “were chastised, not believed and ostracised” and accused of being homosexual, before they went to police.

The accused man’s defence barrister, Kelvin Pearson, indicated his client would not be making a bail application at his next court date on October 28.

Documents show police had objected to the application due to the defendant’s broad network of contacts and financial standing, which they argued created a “high and unacceptable risk” that he would flee the country and interfere with the investigation.

Documents show the accused owns up to five properties, including four units, and holds multiple passports.

Police allege the defendant admitted at the time of his arrest that he was in the process of buying a property overseas.

The documents show police intended to issue more warrants and raised the possibility that allowing the man bail could give him an opportunity to delete evidence.

A day before his arrest the defendant allegedly met with one of the victims and was recorded electronically allegedly admitting to having multiple videos of his sexual offences.

The man was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on October 28.

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