GUNTHER Frantz (52) spent half his life in a Christian cult where he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a “self-appointed apostle”.
Mr Frantz recently published an autobiography, Beware of friendly danger, about the 26 years he spent within a Pentecostal church, which some of his family joined when he was a child in Germany.
He said he was 11 when he met “self-appointed apostle” Scott Williams, an Australian who went to Germany to start a church in the 1970s.
Now living in Gnangara, he told the Times he had become a full member of the church by the time he was 14.
He said Mr Williams started sexually abusing him when he was 12 by having showers and using saunas naked together at a swimming facility, then having sexual massages.
“He taught me to massage him from top to bottom, front and back,” Mr Frantz wrote in his book.
“Scott exposed his genitals and encouraged me to touch him.
“I remember feeling very uncomfortable and uncertain about the situation.
“I was indoctrinated and desensitised and believed his teachings. He was my pastor.”
As a young adult, Mr Frantz studied in New Zealand, then worked full time as a pastor in Coffs Harbour at a time when there were many Germans coming to Australia as missionaries in the mid-1990s.
The abuse continued for more than two decades until he realised his nephew was also being abused, then he and three other victims went to the police with their allegations.
“I always thought I was the only one,” he said. Following a lengthy investigation, Anthony ‘Scott’ Williams was charged with multiple counts of aggravated sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and other offences.
The trial was due to start in 2012, but the judge granted a permanent stay of proceedings as Mr Williams was deemed medically unfit to stand trial. He died in 2015.
Mr Frantz said he always wanted to write a book, finally taking up a friend’s challenge to do it last December and a book launch date in Los Angeles was quickly set for March.
“I can share my story openly, freely because for me I know it will help others dealing with issues I dealt with,” he said.
“I don’t ever want anybody to go through what I went through.”
The father-of-five said people who were victims of abuse often had poor relationships with loved ones.
“The people I loved the most, I hurt the most,” he said.
“I was an emotional yo-yo.
“I was not nice to be around; I felt ashamed; I felt guilty; I hated myself.”
Mr Frantz said he had forgiven himself, and, while his marriage ended, he now had good relationships with his children and his current partner.
“I do not blame God or any religion or organisation for what happened to me,” he said.
“It was a perpetrator who had evil intentions.
“I still believe in God.”
The church, Christian Assemblies International, is still running, including in the eastern states, New Zealand, US, UK and South Africa.
It acknowledged the history of abuse on its website, and said that behaviour was not condoned.
Mr Frantz described his former church as a “closed brethren” that was difficult to leave.
“Everybody outside the organisation would be seen as a heathen,” he said.
“If you did not follow the doctrines, you were not included to be saved; you would burn in hell.”
With a diploma in counselling, Mr Frantz now works part time doing break-through sessions for people who have been mentally, physically or sexually abused.
“I wanted to give back to the community,” he said.