Former Uniting Church Reverend Ron Charles Brookman was charged in a Sydney court early February with the indecent assault of a 13-year-old child between September and October 1989, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Brookman – arrested at Newtown Police Station in mid-January following the reporting of abuse in October 2018 – pleaded not guilty to a charge of indecent assault of a person under 16 years of age under authority, and has since argued that he will be proven innocent, The Australian reported.
The former minister was released on bail and will return to court 31 March 2020. The Uniting Church has since removed him from “all forms of ministry.”
Years before his arrest, Brookman served as director of one of Australia’s most well-known and longest-running gay conversation therapy programs, Living Waters Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that he held the job from 1999 to 2014. Before that, he was senior pastor at Newtown Mission in Sydney between 1984 and 1998.
Following his work at Living Waters, Brookman has worked as director of a sex addiction recovery support group, as well as supervising those that aim to support men who sought to be free from different forms of what they termed “broken sexuality,” based on information from the former minister’s LinkedIn page.
Brookman told reporters outside court after the 4 February proceedings that he had never believed in gay conversion therapy, characterising his portrayal as a supporter of the practice in news articles as a “media beat-up,” per The Australian.
According to LGBT Nation, Brookman – now married to his wife, Ruth – described himself as a “former homosexual” when he testified in 2012 before the Australian Senate to oppose same-sex marriage equality. Brookman said that he got married as a means of covering up his sexuality, having initially repressed his feelings when he joined the Presbyterian Church at the age of 17. Also, in 2008, Brookman stated that as a result of joining the church, his homosexuality had been “driven inward, but it was always just under the surface,” as quoted by the Herald. He further said that he was “slowly transformed” after listening to Christian psychiatrist John White in 1990.
Brookman and his wife have had three children together, the Herald reported.
“The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and ACT takes it protection of children and vulnerable people very seriously. The Uniting Church will be assisting NSW Police with its investigation,” a statement from the church read.
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