Apr 29, 2015

Gloriavale 'needs to be shut down' as secretive sect goes on the defensive

TVNZSource: ONE News
April 29, 2015

Concerned Kiwis are calling for the Government to intervene and shut down the Gloriavale "cult", as a former member says the religious sect will now be in "defence" mode to protect their way of life.

Yesterday, police called for residents of the West Coast Christian commune to reveal their experiences in light of new allegations by ex-community members of brainwashing, physical punishment and sexual abuse against girls as young as 12.

Do you have connections to Gloriavale? Tell us your story by emailing newsdesk@tvnz.co.nz

ONE News reader Daniel Bestic said: "Gloriavale needs to be shut down. Immediately. Horrible brainwashing and forced marriages are not something our country should allow to continue."

Posting to the ONE News Facebook page, Deb Leete Meads feared another Waco, referring to the violent siege of a religious commune in Texas during 1993.

"No more hanging about, nor being polite, storm it," she said.

Claudine Wharekura Kingi Murray called on CYFS to "do your job" and "protect the kids".

Tanya Eade agreed: "It's a cult and the children are pretty much brainwashed as they know of no other way of life. I agree something needs to be done."

As scrutiny surrounding the isolated commune increases, former member Elijah Overcomer, 26, also said Gloriavale's 16 leaders will now be in "defence" mode.

Speaking to the Timaru Herald he said the secretive sect will now justify how "bad" the outside world is, after television crews and a former member tried to gain entry into the compound.

"It probably wasn't the best thing to do. It will only put those living there on the defensive."

Mr Overcomer is married to former Gloriavale member Rosanna, who recently told TV ONE's Sunday about her 27 years of living a life of submission and fear.

“They really do seriously believe that if I walk out of there I’m sending myself and my kids to hell," Rosanna said.

"They turned on me like a pack of wolves," she said about the group and Gloriavale leader Neville Cooper, who was convicted for indecent assault and served two years in prison during the 1990s.

About 25 ex-Gloriavale members now live in South Canterbury.

Police added yesterday that they did not need a complaint against Gloiravale to act, but information would help in future investigations.


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