Church leadership denies any knowledge of predatory offender

Church leadership denies any knowledge of predatory offender Questions: Australian Christian Churches-affiliated Generation City Church at Hamilton where jailed child sex offender Christopher Bridge was a congregation member and former youth worker.

History: Child sex offender Christopher Bridge moved to Newcastle and joined the Generation City Church after child sex allegations were reported to an affiliated church in Dubbo.

Conflict: Leading Australian Christian Churches and Hillsong church pastor Brian Houston leaving the royal commission after giving evidence about allegations against his father.

Investigation: The late Frank Houston who sexually abused a young church member.

TweetFacebook Australian Christian Churches denies knowledge of Hunter child sex offenderPentecostal church criticised in royal commission final report days after congregation member jailed AUSTRALIA’S largest Pentecostal Christian church has denied any knowledge of child sex allegations against a predatory church youth leader who was jailed only days before the churchwas criticised in the child abuse royal commission final report.

Christopher Laban Bridge, 69, of Yarramalong –a prominent member of the Generation City Church at Hamilton -was jailed on December 13 for sexually assaulting four boys at Assemblies of God churches in Dubbo and the Hunter in the 1970s and 1980s.

He moved to theHamilton church in the mid 1970s after a Dubbo victim’sparents reported Bridge’s sexual assaults to Dubbo Assemblies of God pastor, the late Jack Allsopp. No action was taken after the report, a court was told.

Australian Christian Churches (the former Assemblies of God) said it had no record of any child sexual abuse allegations against Bridge until 2014, despite a Hunter victim’s mother saying she told a senior church pastor in the early 1980s about her son’s description of explicit sex acts committed by Bridge.

“The first time the ACC movement was made aware of Christopher Bridge’s paedophile activities in the 1970s and 1980s was when a victim spoke of his experiences to an ACC pastor in October 2014,” a church spokesperson said on Wednesday.

But a Hunter victim backed his mother’s account, saying the failure of the senior church pastor to act had devastating consequences for him and his family.

“Bridge denied it andthe pastor said he didn’t believe my brother. I felt I had no choice but to move on and pretend the abuse against menever happened because nobody would believe us. It wrecked my relationship with my brother,” the Hunter victim said.

His brother abused serious drugs, was jailed for a drug-related assault and died only days before their 30thbirthday.

“My brother died and I suffered in silence for 30 years until I got a phone call from a detective,because we knew we wouldn’t be believed,” the victim said.

“It tears me to pieces that I didn’t speak back then. It’s still a huge regret of my life.”

He is outraged by a Federal Government proposal to deny compensation under the royal commission’s national redress scheme to child sex victims who have been jailed.

“That’s just another way ofsaying child sexual abuse doesn’t matter and doesn’t have consequences,” he said.

The victim and his mother were angry that Bridge was jailed for just three years for serious child sex offences because the court was required to sentence him according to the standards ofthe time.

In its statement the ACC said it had “rigorous policies and procedures in place” and was “committed to ensure that protection of children and youth is of highest priority”.

But the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse final report was critical of the ACC’s structure and procedures, after a public hearing into the handling of child sex allegations involving ACC’s flagship Hillsong Church.

The royal commission criticised the ACC’s grievance proceduring requiring child sex complaints to be made in writing, a process the commission found “gave priority to the protection of pastors over the safety of children”.

While the ACC had implemented a child protection policy and required adherence if churches wanted to remain affiliated, the commission found there was no formal audit process to check if churches and pastors were compliant.

The royal commission also heard the ACC had “no formal role in investigating” child sex allegations “because of the autonomy of local churches”.

It relied on local churches to take “appropriate action”.

The royal commission found the ACC, Hillsong Church andits pastor Brian Houston did not report child sex allegations against Mr Houston’s father, Frank Houston, to police or the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People as required by legislation.

The royal commission found the child sexual abuse occurred.

Frank Houston’s victim told the commission he received “absolutely no support, counselling, apology or acknowledgement of the abuse”.

“I believe that Brian Houston and the other elders of Hillsong Church kept Pastor Frank’s history as quiet as they could and they have not been held accountable for how they handled my allegation,” the victim told the royal commission.

It found “inadequate” responses by ACC to child sex allegations because of “concern for reputation and avoidance of scandal, the autonomous nature of Pentecostal churches, the role of pastors in Pentecostal churches and the existence of conflicts of interest in Pentecostal churches”.

“Perhaps the most significant factor that affected institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse was the autonomous nature of Pentecostal churches, which meant that senior pastors had discretion about whether to adopt child protection policies, including in relation to the training, supervision and discipline of staff,” the royal commission found in its final report released two days after Christopher Bridge was sentenced.

Generation City Church Pastor Marty McCrindle said he was “shocked and saddened” when his former business partner, whom he met at a Hunter Christian cafe in 1979, was being investigated for child sexual abuse.

He said his church had“solid policies and procedures when it comes to the protection of children and young people”.

“I cannot comment on how such policies and procedures were followed by the church leadership when the said offences occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s as it appears that no documentation was made or kept by the then leadership of our church regarding Bridge,” Mr McCrindle said.

Man jailed for 20 years over acid attack on Newcastle sisters

INJURED: Isobella Fraser, 22, suffered burns to her arm and back after her top melted into her skin. Her sister, Prue, suffered injuries to her arm.

A MAN has been jailed for 20 years after carrying out a brutal acid attack that injured 16 people – including two sisters from Newcastle – in a packed London nightclub.

Arthur Collins, 25, hurled the corrosive substance over a crowd on the dancefloor at Mangle E8, in East London, on April 17.

Sixteen people were injured and three were temporarily blinded.

RELATED: Hunter pair in nightclub acid attack

Newcastle’s Isobella and Prue Fraser, both aged in their 20s, were among those who suffered chemical burns.

Collins, the father of UK reality TV-star Ferne McCann’s baby daughter Sunday, had told the trial he did not know the bottle contained acid, believing it to contain a liquid date rape drug, which he had snatched from two men after overhearing them planning to spike a girl’s drink.

But the jury at London’s Wood Green Crown Court convicted him of five counts of grievous bodily harm with intent and nine counts of actual bodily harm last month.

Judge Noel Lucas branded Collins “an accomplished and calculated liar” who had shown “not a shred of remorse”, telling him: “This was a despicable act.

“You knew precisely what strong acid would do to human skin.

“Having thrown the acid over the club you slunk away and hid in the rear and pretended to be nothing to do with the mayhem you had caused.”

The burns to Isobella Fraser.

“In my judgement it was deliberate and calculated and you were intent on causing really serious harm to your victims.”

Collins looked pale but did not react as his sentence was read out, and winked at his family as he was led to the cells.

The sisters told theNewcastle Heraldat the time they had been enjoyinga night out with friends at the East London nightclub when a fight broke out nearby and they attempted to retreat.

“It all happened so quickly; I was thrown over this fence and onto my stomach and then felt this horrible pain on my arm,’’ Prue said in April.

“It took a couple of seconds to realise what was happening and I thought it was some kind of attack.

“I just looked for my sister.’’

Isobella, visiting her Chelsea-based sister who had been working in the UK for seven months, said she had turned her back to get away as the fight, involving people they did not know, broke out.

“I felt what I thought was all this water down my back, like someone had spilt a drink,and then I couldn’t breathe,’’ Isobellasaid.

“I could smell something, like a cleaning product, and I thought what is happening, are we in the middle of a terrorist attack.’’

Isobella said the “water” began to burn on her back and someone started yelling they had been hit with acid.

“My whole top had melted onto my back,’’ she said.

– with Dan Proudman, Matt Carr

Man shot in leg avoids jail

Newcastle courthouse. A MAN who had his left leg blown off during a bungled break-in at a remote property at Teralba has avoided a jail term due to the“considerable extra-curial punishment”and lifelong injuries he suffered.

Benjamin Rhodes, 32, of Booragul, who now requires a wheelchair to get around, was sentenced for his role in the 2016 break-in in Newcastle District Court last week, with Judge Roy Ellis placing him on a one-year and nine month intensive corrections order (ICO), which is a form of custodial sentence served in the community.

His mate and co-offender, Ryan Graham Jewell, wassentenced to a maximum of three years in jail, with a non-parole period of two years in the same court in October.

The pair were confronted by a homeowner while breaking into a farm shed on The Weir Road in the early hours of May 14, 2016 – the second time in a few hours that the pair had broken into the property in search of power tools and firearms.

Rhodes was shot in the leg at close range, while Jewell sprinted across the property, shots ringing out over his head, and jumped into Cockle Creek.

After he was shot, Rhodes went to run, but he could only crawl.

He was eventually found by a police dog lying in long grass in a ditch, bleeding profusely from a serious wound to his leg.

He had lost so much blood he was considered critical and was in a coma when he arrived at hospital.

Rhodeshad to have his left leg amputated and now requires a wheelchair to get around, the court heard.

The homeowner has not been charged over the incident.

Rhodes had served four months in custody before being granted bail, a factor Judge Ellis took into account during sentencing.

The charge the pair pleaded guilty to – aggravated enter dwelling with intent – carries a maximum of 14 years in jail.

But Judge Ellis said the fact Rhodes had lost his leg was a considerable futuredeterrent.

“When you’re thinking about robbing a rural property, you might want to think twice,” Judge Ellis said in October.

Judge Roy Ellis.

“I think the loss of a leg is … it’s not something that just relates to now,” Judge Ellis said to DPP solicitor Geoff Kidd.”Not that we’re joking, but one could say you’ve already got your pound of flesh.”

‘No bloody mischief at all’: How Westpac’s ‘the Rat’ reassured the RBA

Westpac’s star trader Colin “the Rat” Roden told a Reserve Bank official the bank was up to “no bloody mischief at all” in the bank bill swap rate market, during the period in which it stands accused of trying to rig the key benchmark interest rate.

The federal court on Tuesday released a series of transcripts of taped conversations in the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s landmark case against the bank, after hearings in the trial concluded this month in Melbourne.

Alongside talk about the markets, the transcripts also show one conversation in which Mr Roden asked another trader, Sophie Johnson, if a meal out she had with a female friend and another woman was a “threesome”.

Among the dozens of transcripts is a call between Mr Roden and RBA official Matt Boge, from June 9, 2010, in which Mr Roden points to “nefarious activity” from a rival, National Australia Bank.

ASIC has accused Westpac traders of trying to manipulate the bank bill swap rate (BBSW), a key interest rate that influences the rate paid on business loans. on various occasions between April 2010 and June 2012. Westpac has defended the behaviour of its traders.

In the call, Mr Boge asks Mr Roden “What have you guys been up to?,” to which Mr Roden replies “Mate, no bloody mischief at all.”

“I know, ah, someone rang through earlier on just wanted to know what happened this morning, whether we were involved in some nefarious… some nefarious activity, that 500 offer, because someone asked, that was the NAB,” Mr Roden said.

In the conversation, Mr Boge also questions Mr Roden about the volume of bank bills being traded in the market. In recent years the RBA has repeatedly raised concerns about the low volumes of bills being traded when BBSW is measured each morning.

Mr Roden tells Mr Boge the offshore funding markets have “bloody closed”, and that futures markets and bank bill markets are “completely out of whack”.

He also reveals RBA deputy governor Guy Debelle, who at the time had oversight of financial markets, had made contact with Westpac Treasurer Curt Zuber and was “hassling” him about funding.

“Curt’s f—ing hassling me ’cause Guy Debelle has been giving him shit,” Mr Roden said.

The conversation was one of many released by Federal Court Justice Jonathan Beach on Tuesday, following requests from media outlets.

In another, on April 8 2010, Westpac trader Sophie Johnson tells Mr Roden she had dinner with a friend and another woman on the previous night.

Mr Roden replies; “Was it a threesome, you know what I mean?”

Ms Johnson laughs in reply, saying “ah, not quite”.

Shortly after, Mr Roden asks: “Did the friend give you the kiss on both lips or just the big one on both cheeks or the big one on the lips?” Ms Johnson replies: “No, two cheeks.”

In the high-profile case, ASIC has alleged that Westpac tried to manipulate the “rate set”, a five-minute window between 9.55am and 10.00am in which BBSW was set by commercial banks.

In another conversation that was central to ASIC’s case, Mr Roden and Ms Johnson (dubbed the “the perfumed steamroller”), discuss the rate set.

Mr Roden says “I knew it was completely wrong but I thought f— it, I may as well f— it.” In the case, Westpac’s lawyers argued Mr Roden was commenting on where interest rates at the time, not trying to rig the rate.

The same conversation shows Mr Roden referring to Goldman Sachs as “f—ers” and NAB as “scum” and “deadshits”.

In a sign of the profits being made in the dealing room, Mr Roden tells Ms Johnson earlier that the bank had made $12 million that day from BBSW trading, which he describes as “a good day”.

ASIC had also alleged traders from National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank tried to rig BBSW, but these banks each settled for $50 million, admitting that their traders engaged in attempted unconscionable conduct.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Quite the experience

Flying high: Brett and Louise Dann at their company Hunter Travel Group’s new headquarters in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil. HUNTER Travel Group managing director BrettDann has been in the travel industry for 33 years and although he does fewer consultations with customers these days due to his executive role, he knows how he likes to do business.

Which explains why the swank reception of HTG’s new multi-million dollar headquarters in Hunter Street is a far cry froma typical travel agency. Clients can sit at a bar serving coffee and refreshments, in a booth, on a lounge or at a table – wherever takes their fancy.

Corporate chic: Brett and Louise Dann in one of the five luxury levels at Hunter Travel Group’s new headquarters in Newcastle. Picture: Marina Neil

“Typical travel agencies are to me are like banks; here we are trying to do something very different,” says Mr Dann. “For us it’s not just a transaction but getting to know people and whatever their needs are –we are not pushy,we’re about forming long-term relationships.”

Likening HTG’s reception to a luxury hotel lobby, Mr Dann says the travel group, which operates 14 Helloworld Travel stores and 11 Helloworld associate stores in Australia – is keen to attract business from students at the NeW Space campus across the road.

“Student travellers are so different to what they were 20 years ago, many are looking for luxury trips,” he says.

Mr Dann got his start at 17 as an apprentice at“the original” Jayes Travel Service in Hunter Street in 1984. In 1999 he set up his own company, HTG Pty Ltd, and with a business partner opened Jayes/Traveland in Toronto.

Mr Dann’s wife Louise later joined the business–she is HTG’s retail general manager and a director ofDann Family Travel Group Pty Ltd, the major shareholder in HTG. Mr Dann and HTG general manager and fellow directorShaun Houstonoversee 150 staff.The Danns’ children, Nicholas and Madeleine, are both managers of HTG-owned Cruise Travel Centres in Kotara and Greenhills respectively.

Above HTG’s reception spread out over three storeys are a business travel section, a groups/product/marketing section, an administration, finance and sales level and the “Explorer Lounge” level,modelled on a first class airport lounge used by thegroup to host events and available to clients and for the business community.