Church el­der gets jail term

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - PETE MARTINELLI peter.mar­

THE par­ents of a girl who was mo­lested by a Je­ho­vah’s Wit­ness el­der were threat­ened by the church in an at­tempt to sti­fle their com­plaint, a court heard.

The for­mer el­der – Don­ald Stephen Beinke – abused the girl and two oth­ers on at least four oc­ca­sions in the 1980s and 1990s.

A jury to­day found Beinke, now 76, guilty af­ter a trial in Cairns Dis­trict Court on four counts of ag­gra­vated in­de­cent treat­ment of a child.

Beinke was shunned by his Far North Queens­land church when the girl’s al­le­ga­tions came to light in 1993, but the court heard the el­ders threat­ened to sue her par­ents for slan­der and ex­com­mu­ni­cate them if they pur­sued the claims.

The girl’s fa­ther re­ported the al­le­ga­tions to po­lice when the fam­ily was “brushed away” by church el­ders.

In a vic­tim im­pact state­ment read to the court, the com­plainant woman said she had tried “to es­cape a hor­ror that never ends”.

“I wanted to es­cape this liv­ing hell … I hated church and the el­ders,” she wrote.

Beinke “groomed” the girl with Arnotts bis­cuits and mo­lested her as she tried to sleep in his spare bed­room.

“I was a lit­tle girl who just wanted to go to sleep – in­stead you touched me with your dis­gust­ing hands,” the state­ment read.

The com­plainant said she was la­belled a trou­ble­maker when her be­hav­iour changed in the wake of the abuse.

“I was aban­doned by the church … and asked to leave the con­gre­ga­tion.”

All three com­plainant women re­mem­ber Beinke for his long fin­ger­nails and that he was known as a joker who liked to tickle the con­gre­ga­tion’s chil­dren.

“We all trusted Don­ald,” a sec­ond com­plainant told the court. “When (the abuse) oc­curred I froze be­cause I did not know how to re­act … I be­came more in­tro­verted.”

She said she had “an in­abil­ity to trust men in gen­eral” and would “get up­set and un­com­fort­able by small things like long fin­ger­nails”.

Af­ter a po­lice in­ter­view in 1993, the case was re-opened in 2016.

Judge David Reid said Beinke showed “an ap­palling lack of re­morse” and abused his po­si­tion of power against the chil­dren of his con­gre­ga­tion.

“I’m gob­s­macked,” Judge Reid said of one in­ci­dent where Beinke mo­lested a girl in a play­ground.

“If the fa­ther was there he would have decked him.”

He jailed Beinke for three and a half years.

“You be­trayed what you pub­licly rep­re­sented,” Judge Reid said. “The con­se­quences to these young girls are sig­nif­i­cant and pro­found.”

He made no rec­om­men­da­tion for pa­role, although Beinke can ap­ply for el­i­gi­bil­ity half way through his sen­tence.


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