Police comb cult property for child

The Courier-Mail/July 16, 2003
By Amanda Gearing

Federal police are searching for a four-year-old girl after a dawn raid yesterday on a rural retreat owned by Helidon cult leader Debra Geileskey failed to locate the child.

Several carloads of federal police swooped on the cult leader's property which also is home to several cult members who are living in two houses, a church, a converted stable and a shed on the property.

A spokesman said the police were called in to enforce a custody order issued by the Family Court to recover the child.

Police set up road-blocks in the area and searched cars but officers left the property at Grantham about 10am empty-handed. They had not located the missing girl by yesterday afternoon.

Neighbours of the property said they saw vehicle lights at the property at 5am. Staff arriving for work about 6.30am at a nearby fruit farm noticed about eight uniformed federal police.

A member of the Geileskey cult, the Magnificat Meal Movement, who was patrolling the front fence of the Sandy Creek Rd property, said "management" was in Brisbane and no comment would be made. A man with her was photographing media representatives.

The child's identity must be protected and information about her cannot be published.

But if she is not found, the custodial parent could apply to the Family Court for a Section 121 order which would allow identifying information about the girl to be published in an effort to find her.

Author Wally Maggs, Debra Geileskey's former ghost-writer who denounced the cult in 1999, said yesterday it was possible that a parent could have been urged not to relinquish the child to avoid "suffering terrible things".

"Debra tells them the people on the outside are living in a wicked world. She works through fear," Mr Maggs said.

"This would be an enormous threat to her.

"It's a landmark event because it's the first time a government agency has gone inside the enclave and acted officially against the movement."

Mr Maggs said Mrs Geileskey would use the event to tell members of her Magnificat Movement that the raid was a sign of the "end times" when the government would try to take over their lives.

"This will be a terrifying thing to them because they are living in a dream world," Mr Maggs said.

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