The ABC reports…
“The South African-based Acts Christian Church is closing its only Australian branch after revelations the leader was involved in a paedophile ring.
Pastor David Volmer is one of eight West Australian men accused of sexual crimes against a 13-year-old girl over a period of two years.
The 41-year-old has pleaded guilty to 12 offences including drugging and raping the girl.
Originally from South Africa, Volmer moved to Australia and set up a branch of the Acts Christian Church in Perth’s northern suburbs in 2013.
Church leader Reverend Peter de Fin, whose grandfather founded the church, said he was shocked by the charges.
“This is the first time we’ve had to deal with such a case,” he said.
“We were very disappointed and of course we are not happy our church is associated with such a crime or incident.
“We don’t make any excuses for a minister of the church behaving in this way.”
The Perth parish had about 50 members attending at one stage and was the church’s only branch outside South Africa and Mozambique.
It is now in the process of being closed.
Reverend de Fin flew to Perth this month to speak to parishioners.
He was not able to meet with the victim but said he wanted to apologise on behalf of the church.
“We wanted to offer counselling and also apologise to her and her family,” he said.
Reverend de Fin said the church had failed the young victim.
“The church upholds moral standards and in this way the church has failed,” he said.
Volmer was also the manager of the WA Prison Fellowship, a Christian ministry that visits jails, runs camps for children and supports victims of crime.
Prison Fellowship Australia chair Michael Wood declined to be interviewed by PM but said Volmer was asked to resign as soon as the organisation was made aware of the charges against him.
He said Volmer was not involved in running camps for children and his offences were not connected to his work with the fellowship in any way.
Volmer was charged as part of Operation Ripstop.
WA Police on Wednesday revealed they had charged eight men with more than 500 offences.
It is alleged the victim’s father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allowed the men to abuse her over a period of two years.
Police believe the victim’s father is the only link between the alleged offenders.
WA Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan described the case one of the most disturbing investigations he had encountered.
“I was just staggered. I can’t remember … something like this in Western Australia,” he said.
“Really bizarre and really disturbing from my perspective. It’s just an awful situation.”
“It’s important that people do stay switched on,” he said.
“It’s important people understand what their children are doing online as well because there are cyber predators out there that will groom children online or even try to meet them.
“This is a terrible case but it is a reminder there are people out there who will prey on our children.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we are vigilant, particularly with online matters.”
The girl is being cared for by the WA Child Protection Department.
“Child protection is everyone’s responsibility,” said Emma White, director-general of the department.
“You may have the smallest piece of information about a young person that is in fact really, really important.
“Don’t wait to make your own determination about what’s happening. When in doubt, act.”
Volmer has been granted bail and will appear again in the Perth Magistrates Court next month.
Seven other men are due to appear in court in the coming weeks.”