Ballarat teacher Scott Williams 'charismatic' before founding abusive cult: former student

Scott Williams. PICTURE: ABC/FOUR CORNERS

Scott Williams. PICTURE: ABC/FOUR CORNERS

EARLIER: Former Ballarat teacher Scott Williams accused of founding abusive religious cult.

PASTOR Scott Williams was described as “charismatic” by former Ballarat East High School staff and students.

However, concerns were also raised about the ex-teacher’s daily lunchtime meetings with senior students during his Ballarat tenure to discuss religious matters.

Williams on Monday night was accused of horrific sexual and physical abuse at his religious cult Christian Assemblies International (CAI) by the ABC’s Four Corners program.

He is also accused of misusing vast amounts of money donated by CAI members and building up a worldwide multi-million dollar property portfolio.

Mr Williams taught at Ballarat East High School in the early 1970s before heading to Germany as a missionary, where he worked in Feldafing as a pool attendant at a military school for young men.

In the late 70s, he began recruiting German teenagers and young adults to CAI, claiming he was The Anointed One, filled with the Holy Spirit and a gifted healer.

"He appeared not to have too many teacher friends.” - Former student Julie Atkins

However, Four Corner’s four-year investigation showed Williams also carried out bizarre sexual rituals on males while financially, physically, verbally and spiritually abusing his members – particularly women and children.

Former members also said they were regularly denigrated and humiliated while women were told they were swines, dogs, Jezebels and satanic beings and children were beaten with iron rods.

Women were also regularly excommunicated and their children given to other people to temporarily raise, while widows and pensioners were pressured to hand over inheritances.

Julie Atkins, a reporter with The Advocate in Daylesford, was taught French by Williams for five years and said he was quiet and charismatic.

“He always had a smile on his face,” Ms Atkins said

 “But he appeared not to have too many teacher friends.”

A fellow teacher, who did not wish to be named, said he was a “delightful teacher” with a “great rapport with the senior students”.

No claims of impropriety have come to light about Williams during his stint in Ballarat.

CAI, which is a registered charity and religious group, is now based in Coffs Harbour, with Williams and senior church people refusing any Four Corners requests for interviews.

Williams lives with his wife Ree in Coffs Harbour, with other properties all over the world renovated to luxurious standards by church members. 

The Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission had pledged to investigate the CAI following the Four Corners report.

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