Former conversion therapy leader charged with molesting a teenage boy
A former conversion therapy practitioner in Sydney has been charged with child sex offences against a teenage boy.
Ron Charles Brookman, who ran conversion therapy group Living Waters Australia from 1999 until its closure in 2014, appeared in court on Tuesday charged with indecently assaulting a 13-year-old.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the alleged offences took place in 1989, while Brookman was serving as a minister at Newtown Mission Uniting Church.
A historical child sex abuse inquiry was launched in October 2018, resulting in Brookman’s arrest in January.
Appearing in court, Brookman denied the charges against him.
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As well as running the group known as Australia’s most notorious practitioner of conversion therapy, Brookman was a member of the anti-gay National Marriage Coalition, testifying against same-sex marriage before the Parliament of Australia in 2012.
He told Parliament of efforts to introduce same-sex marriage: “One of the other real concerns is for children… my concern there is for young kids who are developing their sexuality to be exposed to the teaching of homosexuality.
“There is an elephant in the lounge room here from the point of view that children have got the right to make a natural progression towards heterosexuality without having these other possibilities thrown in.”
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Brookman had claimed: “For over 30 years I was homosexual and I desired nothing more than to find a male partner with whom I could share the rest of my life.
“I experienced grace over many years and much counsel that enabled the transformation of my sexuality to heterosexuality.”
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The Uniting Church said that Brookman has been removed “from all forms of ministry,” adding that it takes its “responsibility for the protection of children and vulnerable people very seriously.”
In 2018, a man spoke out about his experiences of gay ‘cure’ therapy by Brookman’s organisation, Living Waters.
The man, known only as Chris, wrote: “Every week, members spoke about their ‘sins’ and we learned about the spiritual and experiential reasons that we had ‘turned gay’. I was so ashamed and guilt-ridden that I remained completely celibate for years.
“So-called ‘conversion therapy’ causes depression, self-loathing and even suicide. I prayed to God asking him to either heal me, or kill me.
“I was so depressed, I wanted to die. The trauma associated with that part of my life still affects me.”