Judge punishes doomsday prophet

AAP, Australia/October 14, 2005

As a prophet of the End Times, William Kamm often preached about God's fiery judgment and the world's imminent damnation.

On Friday, a district court judge laid out the future for the 55-year-old known as The Little Pebble - five years jail as punishment for molesting a 15-year-old girl from his flock.

If Kamm does his penance, he might just impress the parole board and work his way out of purgatory in three-and-a-half years.

Kamm founded The Order of Saint Charbel, an off-shoot of the Catholic church, about 20 years ago at Cambewarra, near Nowra, on the NSW south coast.

He was highly esteemed as a holy man who interceded with the Virgin Mary and had also declared himself to be "the last pope" who was waiting to ascend the papacy.

Many followers fell away from The Little Pebble in protest when he claimed to receive new revelations from heaven that he should head a "royal house" of 12 queens and 72 princesses to bear him children in a new holy era.

But others remained loyal and believed his assurances that the conceptions would result from a holy hug and not from sex.

But a NSW District Court jury decided on July 8 that his embraces with a 15-year-old girl were sexual to the point of breast fondling; his kisses were performed with his tongue and on one occasion he parked his car on a public street and masturbated her in broad daylight.

The subsequent charges of aggravated sexual intercourse and four counts of aggravated indecent assault were dated between July and November 1993 - when Kamm was almost three times his victim's age.

The offences happened 12 years ago - and another world away.

Kamm's Order of St Charbel, based on "holy grounds" amid bushland, was to be an idyllic refuge from a troubled world.

Prosecutor Richard Herps opened the case by tabling more than a dozen highly sexualised letters written by Kamm to his new queen.

"Do you ever think about us making love, do you ever desire it," he wrote on July 14.

Kamm told the girl a few months later that she could sleep with him because "heaven has already said yes to me", even though she was still below the legal age of consent.

"So we can make love any time but you can not fall pregnant yet ... I know how to make love to you without you falling pregnant," he wrote.

The girl had a diary in which she would write petitions to the Virgin Mary, and the inspired answers - written by the Little Pebble's hand - reinforced his beckoning for a deeper intimacy.

"You have permission for an intimate union with your husband at any time but remember, be discreet," a reply from "Mary" said.

Defence barrister Greg Stanton produced a collection of letters during a gruelling cross-examination to show the girl had also written flowery love letters to Kamm - before and after the assaults happened.

Kamm has made various failed predictions about the end of the world - predictions which he now describes as "delayed".

The Catholic Church denounced Kamm and outlawed the order in 2002 after Rome endorsed an investigation which found his teachings were "false, harmful and contrary to those of the Catholic Church".

The denouncements continued on Friday, as Judge John Williams described Kamm's assaults against the girl as "an inexcusable and gross breach of trust".

"I am concerned there is a significant risk of reoffending," he said during the sentencing.

Foreshadowing a difficult reception in prison, Judge Williams said: "He will probably spend most of his sentence on protection."

Kamm's legal team is appealing against the conviction and sentence.

A spokesman for the Order would not comment.

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