For decades, an Australian pastor ran the country’s most prominent conversion therapy programs for LGBTQ youth. Now he’s been charged with the sexual abuse of a minor. The former minister, Ron Charles Brookman, worked as a senior pastor at Newton United Mission Uniting Church in New South Wales, where the assault allegedly took place in 1989. The victim, a boy, was only 13 at the time, Friendly Atheist reports.
The 70-year-old Brookman appeared in a Sydney court on, facing allegations that he indecently assaulted the boy who was in his care for two months in the fall of 1989, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Police were alerted to the allegations in October 2018, prompting an investigation that culminated in Brookman’s arrest at the Newton Police Station January 14.
Brookman has had a long ministerial career running programs that addressed sexual addiction, pornography use, homosexuality, and sexual abuse. He also served as the director of Living Waters Australia from 1999 until it’s closure in 2014. The program has been called “one of the foremost and longest-running ex-gay/conversion therapy programs” in Australia by LGBTQ advocacy group Ambassadors and Bridge-Builders International (ABBI).
Brookman has been frank about his own same-sex attraction but claimed that prayer worked and at one point spoke as a “former homosexual” in front of parliament when same-sex marriage was being considered.
Even so, questions still swirled as to whether Brookman’s sexual orientation had even changed. Anthony Venn-Brown, an LGBTQ community leader and a former minister said Brookman told him he was still struggling with his sexual orientation.
“Ron and I were filmed for a bible college presentation presenting both sides of the debate on homosexuality. Ron freely admitted more than once that he got sexually aroused reading my autobiography,” Venn-Brown said. “Whenever pressed whether he still experiences homosexual thoughts or feelings, Ron admits it still happens but he doesn’t act on them.”
“Telling the Senate inquiry that he is now heterosexual and also encourages others into heterosexual marriage is not only dishonest and misleading: it is irresponsible.”
Marriage equality became law in December 2017.
Brookman is now out on bail and has pleaded not guilty. He and his wife Ruth were all smiles and holding hands while they were photographed leaving the courtroom.