Author tells of time in cult

The Advocate (Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Lucy Jarvis

GUN­THER Frantz (52) spent half his life in a cult, suf­fer­ing sex­ual abuse over­seas and in­ter­state.

Mr Frantz re­cently pub­lished an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Be­ware of friendly dan­ger, about the 26 years he spent with a church, which some of his fam­ily mem­bers joined when he was a child in Ger­many.

He said he was 11 when he met “self-ap­pointed apos­tle” Scott Wil­liams, an Aus­tralian who went to Ger­many to start a church in the 1970s.

Now liv­ing in Gnan­gara, Mr Frantz told the Times he had be­come a full mem­ber of the church by the time he was 14.

He said Mr Wil­liams started sex­u­ally abus­ing him when he was 12 by hav­ing show­ers and us­ing saunas naked to­gether at a swim­ming fa­cil­ity, then hav­ing sex­ual mas­sages.

“He taught me to mas­sage him from top to bot­tom, front and back,” Mr Frantz wrote in his book.

“Scott ex­posed his gen­i­tals and en­cour­aged me to touch him.

“I re­mem­ber feel­ing very un­com­fort­able and un­cer­tain about the sit­u­a­tion.

“I was in­doc­tri­nated and de­sen­si­tised and be­lieved his teach­ings. He was my pas­tor.”

As a young adult, Mr Frantz stud­ied in New Zealand, then worked full-time as a pas­tor in Coffs Har­bour at a time when there were many Ger­mans com­ing to Aus­tralia as mis­sion­ar­ies in the mid1990s.

The abuse con­tin­ued for more than two decades un­til he re­alised his nephew was also be­ing abused. Then he and other vic­tims went to the po­lice with their al­le­ga­tions.

“I al­ways thought I was the only one,” he said.

Fol­low­ing a lengthy in­ves­ti­ga­tion, An­thony ‘Scott’ Wil­liams was charged with mul­ti­ple of­fences, in­clud­ing sex­ual as­sault and in­de­cent as­sault.

The trial was due to start in 2012, but the judge granted a per­ma­nent stay of pro­ceed­ings as Mr Wil­liams was deemed med­i­cally un­fit to stand trial. He died in 2015. Mr Frantz said he al­ways wanted to write a book, fi­nally tak­ing up a friend’s chal­lenge to do it last De­cem­ber and a book launch date in Los An­ge­les was quickly set for March.

The fa­ther of five said peo­ple who were vic­tims of abuse of­ten had poor re­la­tion­ships with loved ones.

“The peo­ple I loved the most, I hurt the most,” he said.

“I was not nice to be around; I felt ashamed; I felt guilty; I hated my­self.”

Mr Frantz said he had for­given him­self and, while his mar­riage ended, he now had good re­la­tion­ships with his chil­dren and cur­rent part­ner.

“I do not blame God or any re­li­gion or or­gan­i­sa­tion for what hap­pened to me,” he said. “It was a per­pe­tra­tor who had evil in­ten­tions.”

The church, Chris­tian As­sem­blies In­ter­na­tional, is still run­ning and ac­knowl­edged the his­tory of abuse on its website, and said that be­hav­iour was not con­doned.

Mr Frantz de­scribed his for­mer church as a “closed brethren” that was dif­fi­cult to leave.

With a di­ploma in coun­selling, he now works part time do­ing break-through ses­sions for peo­ple who have been men­tally, phys­i­cally or sex­u­ally abused.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey d481091

Gun­ther Frantz was sex­u­ally abused for over two decades.

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