Pebble convicted on sex charges

Illawarra Mercury, Australia/July 9, 2005
By Rebecca Senescall

The end of the world was coming, William Kamm said. The Virgin Mary had told him so.

On the 13th day of each month messages from heaven came to Kamm, on his Order of St Charbel property at Cambewarra, from a God who promised to strike a sinful world with earthquakes, plagues and tidal waves.

But Kamm and his followers would be safe, because God had chosen Kamm to be "the new Abraham", to take from his followers 12 queens and 72 princesses who would spawn a pure race to live in the new world.

As the news spread among the Order of St Charbel community, parents began to pray that their daughters would be among Kamm's 84 "mystical wives". Girls and young women talked excitedly about the chance of becoming "someone special in God's eyes".

The relationship between each girl and Kamm was a spiritual union, they believed. There was to be no sex - Kamm would merely embrace them and they would fall pregnant miraculously.

So when a 15-year-old girl was chosen in 1993 as one of Kamm's queens, her parents were honoured and had not a hint of worry.

At the start of Kamm's Sydney District Court trial three weeks ago, the girl revealed to the jury what she had kept secret for years: that she had been kissed and fondled by Kamm, and that once, in his car, he had put his hand under her skirt and masturbated her.

Kamm stood before the jury and said "not guilty" as four charges of aggravated indecent assault and one of aggravated sexual intercourse were read to him.

He showed no reaction, even as the prosecutor read aloud to the packed court room sexually overt letters Kamm had sent the girl, calling her his "darling butterfly" and expressing his desire to make love to her.

The girl was taken in. She returned Kamm's letters, professing her love for him, telling him she was dreaming of their future together.

The girl told the court she had told no-one that Kamm was molesting her, because she believed it was the will of heaven that they be together.

Later when she started to doubt the relationship and wrote to the Virgin Mary for advice, she was told, in Kamm's handwriting: "The evil one is trying to tempt you ... trust in the will of God."

But in the months and years that followed, the fantasy wore off. Kamm's new era never came.

The girl moved out of the community - leaving her family behind her - and after holding onto Kamm's letters for years, decided in July 2002 to tell her story to Nowra police.

A week later, after more than 30 police officers swooped on the Order of St Charbel property, Kamm was charged.

Kamm's lawyer Gregory Stanton yesterday acknowledged that the jury had the right to make its guilty finding, but promised that Kamm would appeal.

And as Kamm walked from the court, facing questions of what would happen to the Order of St Charbel community now, he uttered no prophecy. He just smiled faintly as Mr Stanton whisked him away from public view.

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