Tuesday, 1 July 2014

How some powerful men abuse their position


Police review fresh Harris claims

Rolf Harris leaves court flanked by his wife Alwen and daughter Bindi
The BBC's David Sillito takes a look back at Rolf Harris's case

Police are considering fresh allegations against Rolf Harris after he was convicted of indecently assaulting four girls.

The disgraced entertainer was found guilty on Monday of 12 counts of indecent assault in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Some of those he abused were as young as seven or eight.

Dozens more of 84-year-old Harris's alleged victims came forward during the trial, some from his native Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was "gutted and dismayed" by the conviction.

Mr Abbot told Australia's ABC radio sexual abuse was "an utterly abhorrent crime" and added: "It's just sad and tragic that this person, who was widely admired, seems to have been a perpetrator."

Tributes to Perth-born Harris in Western Australia could now be removed, the city's mayor Lisa Scaffidi said.

Custodial sentence

During his trial prosecutors said Harris was a "Jekyll and Hyde" character who took advantage of his fame.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, said a custodial term would be "uppermost in the court's mind" when sentence was delivered on Friday, but he wanted to see a medical report before passing sentence.

The verdict was greeted on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald with a full-page mugshot beneath a one-word "Guilty" headline.

Rolf Harris police mugshot
The Metropolitan Police have issued a photograph of Harris taken after his arrest

The central allegation concerned a friend of Harris's daughter who he had groomed and molested from the age of 13 until she was 19.

His other victims were touched or groped, sometimes at his public appearances.

Six other women also told the court about indecent assaults Harris had carried out against them. The entertainer was not prosecuted over those incidents but the evidence was introduced by the prosecution as an added illustration of his behaviour.

'Beyond belief'

Harris, from Bray, Berkshire, was first questioned in November 2012 in Scotland Yard's Operation Yewtree investigation set up in the wake of sexual abuse allegations against the late BBC Radio 1 DJ Jimmy Savile.

Although his arrest was unconnected to Savile's offending, the publicity surrounding that case had prompted the friend of Harris's daughter to come forward.

Harris was not initially named by the police or identified in the mainstream media until a few weeks after his arrest in March 2013.

The other women who gave evidence in court contacted police after Harris's arrest was made public and he was charged in August of that year.

One of his victims, Tonya Lee, 43, said the abuse had led her to contemplate taking her own life.

The mother-of-three said: "To this day I can't go to sleep without lying in a lounge and having the TV on. I cannot lie in a room and try and sit with my thoughts and go to sleep."

Letitia Fitzpatrick, who gave a character reference for the prosecution about an alleged assault, told the BBC: "It was such an unpleasant experience that I just wanted to forget about it and move on and not really think about it again."

Meanwhile it has emerged that Harris fronted a child protection awareness video in the 1980s in which he was filmed telling children how to say no to predatory adults.

John Cameron - head of child protection at the NSPCC - told BBC Breakfast: "The audacity of the man is beyond belief.

"Here he was, giving this pretence that he had children's welfare at heart, but of course behind the scenes, in front of many people, he was abusing children on a regular basis."

The charity says calls to its helpline were up by a third on Monday.

It says it has received 28 calls about Harris, including 13 people who said they had been abused by him.

Speaking after the entertainer was convicted, Det Ch Insp Mick Orchard, said: "I want to thank the women who came forward for their bravery, I hope today's guilty verdict will give them closure and help them to begin to move on with their lives.

"Today's case and verdict once again shows that we will always listen to, and investigate allegations regardless of the time frame or those involved."

And a Met spokesman added the force had "received a number of allegations and these are now being considered".

Rolf Harris leaving Southwark Crown Court after the verdicts on 30 June 2014
Harris made no comment when he left court after the verdicts
Rolf Harris arrives at court on 30 June 2014 with daughter Bindi (l), wife Alwen (r) and niece Jenny (second r)
He was accompanied on most days of the trial by his daughter Bindi, wife Alwen, and other relatives
Rolf Harris with the Queen and Kylie Minogue at the Diamond Jubilee concert in June 2012
Harris painted a portrait of the Queen in 2006 and took part in her Diamond Jubilee concert six years later

Harris was a mainstay of family entertainment in Britain and his native Australia for more than 50 years. He arrived in London in 1952, becoming a fixture on TV screens as a children's entertainer, songwriter, and entertainer, on the BBC and other networks.

He is to be stripped of his British Academy of Film and Television Arts fellowship, which was awarded just two years ago, a Bafta spokesman said.

Harris, who began his career as an artist, painted a portrait of the Queen to mark her 80th Birthday in 2006.

BBC © 2014


  1. For some while in the UK there's been substantial public concern about the way in which some powerful men have groomed (mostly) girls and young women to accept emotional and sexual abuse. These men have sometimes told their victims that they will gain professional or personal advantage if they comply; sometimes they have said that the victim was 'asking for it' and really enjoyed what was done to them; sometimes they have insisted that their victims remain silent about what has happened lest dreadful things happen to them - often saying that no-one will believe them anyway.

    In mainstream churches, if church leaders were to subject girls, women and young people to emotional or spiritual abuse of any kind, their fathers, brothers and husbands, and the men of the congregation, would be free to speak out and protest and, hopefully, the matter would be dealt with so that victims were protected from such abuse - and the powerful abuser would lose his position and possibly face a criminal prosecution.

    I am very concerned at the way the Exclusive Brethren leaders since James Taylor Jnr's days in the 1960s have treated girls, women and young people who, it appears, have no proper public voice in the Brethren meetings. It's immensely worrying when Exclusive Brethren men, who do speak in public, have failed to protest at the abuse meted out by their powerful leaders who have even sometimes been called 'The Man of God', 'The Elect Vessel', 'The CEO' and other similar titles.

    Bruce D Hales is so powerful that he has declared that if a young person leaves the Brethren they go into 'oblivion'. That is abusive. He doesn't agree with a university education and has said on a number of occasions that higher education is 'narrowing'. That is abusive because he is using his power to restrict his followers' educational and career opportunities. Bruce D Hales has declared that James Taylor Jnr, who introduced dress and hairstyle regulations for female Brethren, who groped some women members and was unfaithful to his wife with a young, consenting woman follower, was a 'pure man'. That is abusive - in the sense that it reinforces the validity of James Taylor Jnr's lifestyle and directives which humiliated women members.

    In my view, it's time that the men in the PBCC spoke out about the misuse of power by their leaders in the past fifty years.

  2. During evidence relating to criminals, such as Savile, Harris and others, one aspect that emerged was that the convicted criminals often considered themselves to be untouchable and somehow "above the law". Is it not the case that the Exclusive Brethren (PBCC) also feel rather unconstrained by the law?

    Earlier, on this blog, Leonardo, PBCC publicist, spent some time extolling the PBCC position, even taking up the notion that this organisation WAS the law. He further informed us that he personally knows the mind of God and that democracy was not God's "ideal". Such a dangerous conceit allows fertile ground for the practice of abuse and non disclosure.

    It is notable that many crimes were committed decades ago; justice has a long arm, however; even where the perpetrators are no longer with us, the institutional ethos, and practice of non disclosure, should be exposed and those currently in positions of responsibility should be brought to account.

    That is the problem with democracy, Leonardo, it allows the small voice to be heard.


    1. My apologies for two similar comments on this subject - I thought the first had gone astray.


  3. It has been notable how criminals such as Savile, Harris and others have often considered themselves to be "untouchable" and above the law. Is it not the case that the EB(PBCC) also have a tendency entertain similar notions due to their special "position"?

    Leonardo, PBCC publicist, commented a couple of items ago, on this blog, that he had some sympathy with the notion that the EB were not only above the law, but were the law. He further had the presumption to inform us that democracy was not favoured by God.

    Justice has a very long arm; many exposed crimes were committed decades ago and some perpetrators may no longer be alive. However, institutional ethos, and cover ups, that allowed such practice to take place, should be exposed and those in positions of authority brought to justice.

    That's the thing about democracy, however imperfect and inconvenient for authoritarians such as Leonardo and PBCC enforcers, it allows the little person the opportunity to be heard.


  4. A common saying in the EB is that 'what happens outside is a reflection of the state inside'

    Abuse going back years and yet presented very nicely to others
    Family life supported but actually families wrecked
    Cover up and deceit about the truth

    And now we find it's an Australian who had the controls, to do or to stop


  5. We had a major incident of a brother molesting little boys in our locality in the 1960's. They withdrew from him - told the little boys that they had contributed to their own 'misfortune' and offered no support or counselling whatsoever. The highest levels of the Brethren heirarchy know about this and did absolutely nothing. I'm surprised they didn't offer this pedophile his place back in the 'assembly' like the one in New Zealand. Historically - the Brethren distance themselves from anything repugnant like this - saying it is nothing to do with them - but a police matter. They have moved on!

  6. While this is no way lessens the horror of the crime, not provides any comfort to the victims, at least in Rolf's case there was an additional side to him that enabled him to offer pleasant entertainment to millions and make individuals and families happy. I don't see I could say the same for the EB cult leaders.


  7. In the small locality I attended, as a child, one of the EB confessed to another, in confidence, that he was attracted to small boys; he had one of his own and his profession took him into family hones many times on a daily basis. I cannot say, however, if he ever acted on his proclivities. As there were only about three other brothers he represented a large percentage.of the locality. Needless to say, as far as I know, the confidence was not disclosed.

  8. It's the way Bruce D Hales (and the other 'Men of God' since the 1960s) have exercised power over the Brethren that is so worrying. A Christian leader is supposed to be a servant to her or his community - in memorable NT terms, she or he is to take the role of a servant and wash other people's feet.

    Telling young people that they shouldn't go to university, for example, is an abusive use of power. Scaring youngsters with the notion that if they leave the PBCC they will go into 'oblivion' is a misuse of power. If Bruce D Hales were a true servant to his community he would encourage and assist learning and scholarship, and he would take an interest in any experience his members might have of contact with other Christians and their communities.

    To the outsider Bruce D Hales comes over as a religious tyrant, not a servant in the way Jesus required. It's astonishing that the men who have a voice in PBCC meetings haven't protested about his abusive use of his leadership position.

    1. Joan. I agree with your suggestion that BDH comes over as a tyrant. But I was once a member and followed The Lord's Servant. It is SO hard to see the picture when you are in the picture. I knew it was all wrong when I was in... but it took a few years of being out for ir to really sink in.

      With such a 'Berlin Wall' between in and out, it may take a while before those trapped inside get to taste freedom.


    2. Eddie - thinking about your 'Berlin Wall', it astonishes me the way Bruce D Hales feels he has to be such a dominant power.

      I noticed that he once talked about conversations/communications with 'worldly' people (that is, non-Brethren women and men) in almost battle terms and said that it was important to him to be "victorious".

      Why does he want to be "in victory"? Why not simply enjoy communicating with other people? Does he really have such a poor sense of self-worth that he worries about not being "equal" to others?

      "You don't enter into contact or conversations or communications that will any way defile you or lead you in an area that you're not equal for in the sense of not being able to be victorious in. So you just keep training yourself to be in victory." Ministry of Bruce D Hales, Volume 125, page 293, July 27th 2012.

    3. Joan
      If reports are to be believed Bruce D Hales not only keeps himself aloof from "worldly" people but has limited contact with rank and file members of his own fellowship. He seems to feel threatened in some way by such communications.
      His 2012 statement you quoted may explain to some degree the Exclusive Brethren's reluctance to engage with those "outside" and answer reasonable questions about their practices.
      Those who are aware of EB doctrines and practices that cannot be supported by scripture should not be altogether surprised by this reluctance to enter into communication with them. It is difficult to defend the indefensible!

    4. Remember though Joan that "the men who have a voice in PBCC meetings," have been under the thumb of abusive leaders for as long as they can remember, if they are under the age of about 65. Someone who was say a 10y/o when JTsr died in 1953 might just remember a different style of leadership, but since JTjr took over and began to hardline separation around 1959, no-one in the Taylorite EB has known anything but abusive leadership practices. As I understand it, many DID speak out in the years before Aberdeen (1970), and were excommunicated for their troubles or forced to be quiet.

      As to BDH needing to be "in victory" - that attitude equates completely with the HEB superiority complex! Why would you even want to be equal to others (worldlies), when you've been taught all your life that you're a member of a group that is better than the best and purer than pure?

  9. Apologies for returning so soon.

    This is the kind of talk from B D Hales which gives a flavour of just how he abuses his position as the supreme and powerful leader of the PBCC. It was said on July 27th 2012 and is recorded on pages 296-297 of Volume 125 of the Ministry of Bruce D Hales:

    "God has placed you in this circle, accept it, accept it. Leave it, leave it to your own peril, doom and disaster. Leave it to your own peril, to your own peril, that is your peril. That means that you'll perish, that's what it means, you'll perish. No guarantee that you'll be saved, you can't rely on the fact that you've been brought up in fellowship, that you're saved. If you turn away from the light, and are not true to it, you can't guarantee salvation. I’m not going to give any guarantee for your own salvation, not one bit of it, not one single bit of it. The proof of you being saved is that you stay in this company until either the Lord takes you or He takes all of us up."

  10. 'It's astonishing that the men who have a voice in PBCC meetings haven't protested about his abusive use of his leadership position.'

    Some did speak out, Joan. It was the last thing they ever did as a member of the cult. Dissent cannot be tolerated within the PBCC organisation.

    The best you will ever get from a PBCC member when raising an issue about someone higher up the food chain is........'the Lord will make the issue'. It took the premature death of my own mother whilst waiting for this to happen, to highlight the fact that that statement is simply an excuse to do nothing.

    Raise an issue about a rank and file member and they are dealt with swiftly and decisively. Apparently the Lord does not involve Himself with the trivial people even though he died for us all.

    I have seen brothers physically forced away from a microphone and silenced for not toeing the party line and 'running your own case' I e defending yourself in the assembly, possibly even against a false accusation was forbidden. You relied on someone speaking up on your behalf, but of course they never did. More interested in saving their own skin, even though they knew you were right.

    With friends like that, who needs an enemy?

    I understand that the current mantra being used by members of the PBCC is that, OK we've done wrong things, but we're different now and they've all been put right. Indeed Gordon Pollard was saying this in the BBC Everyman programme 12 years ago. Strange then that he passed away without ever having the decency to put things right with me and even stranger that my wife's father was prepared to go into death with the nastiest abusive history imaginable unaccounted for.

    My own sister wrote a letter of apology to me during the review, begging forgiveness for ignoring me for 13 years and has then gone on to ignore me again for the next 12. So even an apology is hardly worth the paper it's written on.

    Between them, Gordon Pollard, Jack Badder and Caleb Furse really loused up our lives and our family, making life in the PBCC unbearable. All dead now after showing no contrition or sign of apology. It is for this reason that my wife and I are seeking compensation from them for the harm and detriment caused by their hideous doctrines. Only then might we be able to move on.

    Mark R Elliott

  11. Gal 5.1 - it's worrying if Bruce D Hales feels threatened by both his own members and non-Brethren people.

    This thread is about how powerful men seek to control other people, often abusing them terribly in the process. Isolating yourself from other people means that you tend to cut yourself off from opportunities to examine the way you behave and make appropriate adjustments.

    I notice that in the year after after his comments about "victory" Bruce D Hales said something rather different, and I hope he's beginning to realise that there's a lot to learn from other people. If he really understood that and was prepared to work at new insights and study hard, he could become a great reforming leader of the PBCC.

    "So I thought to myself, Well, you know, you deal, every time you have to do with worldly people you learn something. So you can't just abscond from contact with the world, of course you can't."

    Notes of Meetings B. D. Hales and Other Ministry (White Book) 507, page 50, Sydney and Kellyville, 10th March to 9th June 2013.

    1. Absconding from the world is also seriously damaging for your wealth.

    2. I have never believed for a minute all this security, bodyguards etc is to protect BDH from the world. I've always believed it's to protect him from 'disaffected' members who have, or are about to, lose their families, homes and businesses due to BDH's interference in their affairs and - at the least - would like to confront him verbally, if not physically.



  12. I wonder if the problem is threefold

    BDH likes his power

    The next tier in the hierarchy want place and money, so push it

    The rank and file support it, because they want materialism and it's easier to follow rules and a human, than to have Faith in Christ and personally think of The Lord


  13. Victims of wealthy Rolf Harris's sexual abuse will be getting compensation. What do the victims of wealthy PBCC's harm and detriment (Including in some cases sexual abuse) get? Nothing as yet. Or do they pay out, but part of the deal is not to talk about it and we simply haven't heard? I am keen to hear a PBCC response on this, but they seem to have gone to ground following the Charity Commissions allowance of a year on probation.

    It is only right that a wealthy organisation addresses these matters in support of their claim to be of public benefit. Cooking sausages for fire fighters is no recompense for those who have suffered years of abuse at the hands of, in some cases, leading PBCC members.

    Let's not forget Caleb Furse had two little boys as well as three little girls.

  14. Have Bruce D Hales and the PBCC swept under the carpet all the wrongdoings of the past fifty years in order to protect their system?

    1. It is very difficult for an organisation like the Hales Brethren to admit any longstanding systemic faults, because the loyalty of their followers depends so much on convincing them that their group is uniquely right, with uniquely privileged divine guidance and virtually infallible leadership.

      If they were to admit serious failure stretching over the last 50 years it would be impossible to pretend that their leaders didn’t know about it, or could not be held responsible, and the myth of their unique rectitude would suffer a severe blow. Many followers would realise that they are only one tiny denomination among tens of thousands of others, and just as fallible as any of them.

    2. So are you saying, Ian, that these brethren believe they are entitled to treat people badly and cause marriage and family break-ups?

    3. Well said Ian, and therein lies the utter deceitfulness of a religion that the Charity Commission appear to be letting off the hook. The leaders have always known what is going on in the ranks, indeed most of it is actually sanctioned and/or condoned by them.

      It would appear therefore that the only chance of securing compensation is on the basis of also being gagged in the process. Very Christian!

    4. “So are you saying, Ian, that these brethren believe they are entitled to treat people badly and cause marriage and family break-ups?”

      It is hard to know what they truly believe. Some of the things they say are so obviously false that they would need to be wildly irrational to believe them, and so morally depraved that they would need to be utterly corrupt to believe them. Maybe they only half-believe what they say.

    5. Anon 6 July 2014 15:19
      “So are you saying, Ian, that these brethren believe they are entitled to treat people badly and cause marriage and family break-ups?”

      Since 2012 the PBCC EB don’t like to admit it publicly now, at least to those in authority, but deep down, their theology teaches that ‘they the Brethren’, are ‘The Assembly’, in other words they are taught to think of themselves as “The church”

      The PBCC EB have had many many years and many generations of imbibing the ideas that “they” are The Church, The Only Right Place, The Only Pure Place, the Only Place Where The Spirit Is Free, The Chosen Ones, Recovered Christianity, etc etc. Many many generations have been brainwashed into thinking they are superior to all other humans and certainly superior to all other Christians. They have been taught that all outside of their walls whether Christian or not, are “worldlies” and not fit to mix with.

      In their eyes treating people badly and causing marriage and family break-ups is just “collateral damage”, to put it crudely.

      When you are a member of a group that is subtly taught that “even when the brethren are wrong they are right”, then there are no boundaries, no morals, no conscience, no standards of decency, not even Christian standards are applied. All that matters is that the Brethren get their own way, because after all, they are “the assembly”, “the only right place” and they must do what they have been taught to do from the “ministry” !

  15. Bruce D Hales has caused more harm and detriment than Rolf Harris and Jimmy Saville put together. He should rot in prison for the rest of his life. No matter all the singing and dancing. The fat pig.

  16. Why don't you tell us how you really feel, Anon 23:15?

  17. It is reported that Pope Francis will meet abuse victims from 3 countries.
    Would the leader of the PBCC (Exclusive Brethren) meet some of those who have suffered detriment and harm at their hands do the same? We await developments (or lack of) with interest.

    1. Pope Francis said his church should weep and make reparation. He said the abuse was so long hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained ...until someone realised that Jesus was looking.

      Brethren who have experienced the pain of forced family separation, who felt they had no option but to be complicit in those abusive EB disciplinary processes... Do you ever think Jesus might be looking?

      You said sorry to many of us in your review 2002/3 - why are nearly all of us still waiting for you to fix at least some of the damage?

    2. “You said sorry to many of us in your review 2002/3 - why are nearly all of us still waiting for you to fix at least some of the damage?”

      The so called review was all a con. It was designed to try to minimize the effects of the BBC Everyman Expose on the Exclusive Brethren which aired in 2002/3.

      While some may well have received an apology, many, many others did not. Indeed, in many cases the EB used the opportunity of contact with those who had left, to reinforce the EB “position” and attempt to claim those who had left were wrong to do so, while continuing to maintain full physical separation, with only minimal contact via letter and the odd phone call. Even this contact was soon to fade when the EB realised persons did not want to return to the sect.

      This total psychical separation continues to this day, which makes their apologies somewhat hollow, without conscience, and meaningless, does it not ?

      If the EB make apologies for harmful unchristian actions then simply carry on as before still continuing with and maintaining those harmful unchristian actions, then that apology is meaningless !

      For any apology to mean anything at all, there has to be change and the harm has to stop, and this change must be applied across the whole of the so called "universal fellowship"

      This change did not happen back in 2003 and has not happened in the years since, and has not happened even though the CC ruling of 2014 requires change !

    3. The 'sorry' I received from my EB sister during the review, has proved not to be worth the paper it was written on. She's gone on to do again exactly what she apologised for, ignoring us for a further 12 years! If it was genuinely 'breaking her heart' a dozen years ago, her poor old ticker must be in one hell of a state now.

  18. I am currently witnessing brethren being 'above the law' it seems.....why im not sure, but it certainly is the case, without a doubt.