|Robert John Brown - Guilty|
On the day he was arrested for jewellery theft in 2008, Robert John Brown had 13 coloured diamonds worth $22,000 in his back pocket.
It had been a “hectic” day at Leonard’s jewellery store at Cooks Hill where he worked, and he had forgotten all about them, Brown told police. He was jailed for two years for stealing jewels valued at $157,000.
The next time police arrested Brown, in October 2014, and charged him with child sex offences from the 1980s, the former Belair Baptist Church youth group and Boys Brigade leader spoke about God.
He had asked God about child sexual abuse, but “I’ve had no answers from God so I’ve stopped asking”.
Seriously, you needed to ask God about child sex abuse? You thought He might give you His permission? "Still a man he hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest", Paul Simon, The Boxer.
Brown, 49, of Gateshead, will be sentenced in late February after pleading guilty to multiple sexual assault offences against a boy who was 11 when they met through the Adamstown Heights church in 1985.
The offences occurred during church youth camps, at the boy’s home, in Brown’s car while he drove the boy home from youth group and Boys Brigade meetings, and at other church-related occasions.
Brown was 18 and the boy was 11 when Brown first showed him pornographic movies and magazines, and told him if he “wanted to be experienced with girls he should try it with boys first”.
A police statement of facts said the boy’s family life was difficult. Brown bought him gifts and his attention made the boy feel special. Brown visited the boy’s home once a week, ate Sunday lunch with the boy’s family and showed the boy pornography in his bedroom, police said.
The abuse continued after the boy told Brown what he was doing was wrong.
In an interview with police Brown said he was “like a big brother” to the boy and confirmed having a sexual relationship with him from when the boy was 11.
“(Brown) felt it was a mutual relationship,” police said.
Brown said he did not remember having a sexual relationship with another boy he met through the church.
A former church leader told police Brown’s family was prominent within the Baptist congregation. Brown was “an outgoing young man” who “seemed helpful and supportive” when he indicated he wanted to take a leadership role in the youth group and Boys Brigade, the former church leader said.
No gift of discernment in the Baptist Church?
In material before Newcastle District Court Brown said he did not think of what he did as wrong.
“It wasn’t a wrong thing. I never really thought about whether it was right or wrong. I guess I can say it just happened,” Brown said in 2014.
He admitted he would have been concerned if others had known about him having sex with the boy.
“I guess I wouldn’t want anyone to find out about it, but back then I didn’t think somebody might find out. I wasn’t thinking that way,” he said.
Brown’s victim, who reported the offences to police in 2013, said Brown lacked insight into the profound impact the offending had on his life.
“I really enjoyed church. I felt really comfortable there, and it all changed when Brown appeared,” the victim said.
“I should have fond memories of youth group and Boys Brigade, but every time I try to look back, he’s there.”