Former inner west reverend charged with child sex offences

A former Uniting Church minister who also ran one of the country's most prominent gay conversion therapy programs has been charged with committing historical child sexual offences more than 30 years ago.

Former Reverend Ron Charles Brookman, 70, faced a Sydney court on Tuesday over allegations he indecently assaulted a 13-year-old who was in his care between September and October 1989.

The offence allegedly took place while Mr Brookman was serving as a minister at Newtown Mission Uniting Church.

It was first reported to officers from Inner West Police Area Command in October 2018, prompting an investigation that culminated in Mr Brooker's arrest at Newtown Police Station on January 14.

He was subsequently charged with indecently assaulting a person under 16 years of age under his authority and granted strict conditional bail.

On Tuesday he appeared at Newtown Local Court, where he pleaded not guilty. He left court smiling and holding hands with his wife Ruth Brookman.

He has been excused from appearing at the same court on March 31 when the matter will next be mentioned.

Mr Brookman was a senior pastor at Newtown Mission between 1984 and 1998, and the director of Living Waters Australia, an organisation that claimed to heal people's sexuality, from 1999 to 2014.

Living Waters was recognised as hosting one of Australia's longest-running gay conversion therapy programs.

Since serving in the Uniting Church Mr Brookman has been involved in leading groups to "support men wanting freedom from internet addictions and other forms of broken sexuality," he states on LinkedIn.

He is also listed as a director of a sexual addiction recovery support group in Ramsgate and Sutherland.

A spokesman for the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and ACT said it took the "responsibility for the protection of children and vulnerable people very seriously, and has removed Mr Brookman from all forms of ministry."

The Uniting Church will assist NSW Police with its investigations and asks anyone with information to contact the police directly.

Mr Brookman has spoken publicly about his own personal struggles, some of which date back to when he was aged 11.

Former Reverend Ron Brookman (centre).

Former Reverend Ron Brookman (centre).CREDIT:KATE GERAGHTY

In 2008 he told the Herald's Good Weekend that he became involved in the Presbyterian Church at 17 years of age, which caused his homosexuality to be "driven inward, but it was always just under the surface."

"When I was 26 I discovered homosexual pornography ... I got married when I was 29 for all the wrong reasons. I wanted to keep up appearances as a happily married minister but it was a very sad and dysfunctional marriage," he said at the time.

"It was my secret search, my constant fantasy. My deepest pain was because I stood on the premise that homosexuality is not consistent with the Bible's teachings."

Mr Brookman said he experienced a "turning point" in 1990 after hearing the Christian psychiatrist John White speak.

"That began a three-year journey of meeting fortnightly with another pastor and confessing my sins. He prayed for the pain in my heart and asked that the Holy Spirit bring healing. Slowly but surely I was transformed."

He later married Ruth Brookman.


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