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Police have investigated physical and sexual abuse allegations at Gloriavale 17 times

There have been 17 police investigations into physical and sexual abuse at Gloriavale since it was founded in 1969.

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But former members of the commune tell 1 NEWS they’re surprised the number isn’t higher given abuse is rife in the community of just 600 people. Source: 1 NEWS

Figures released to 1 NEWS under the Official Information Act show the first offence is alleged to have happened in March 1998, but the first complaint wasn’t made to police until 2015.

It shows that charges were laid in five of the 17 investigations at the West Coast commune, while three resulted in conviction and two are ongoing.

Gloriavale Leavers Trust spokeswoman Liz Gregory said the people living inside are forced to stay silent.

“I know for families in there — it's really difficult to want to go ahead with charges.

“You literally cannot keep living at Gloriavale if you are speaking to police and the police are considering laying charges,” said Gregory.

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Lawyers are taking a fresh look at the case following allegations of sexual abuse and mismanagement. Source: Breakfast

One former member — who was too scared to be identified — told 1 NEWS that there is a culture of abuse and secrecy.

“It's an issue they’ve never wanted to face honestly. It's an issue they'd rather not talk about.

“They are very isolated. They are taught that you don’t talk to the police.

“They are taught that you must forgive people, which it's a good thing — it's a Christian principle. But with that forgiveness you can’t actually turn a blind eye to wrong,” said the woman.

Yesterday, 1 NEWS revealed that Gloriavale’s trust has called in two lawyers to investigate the community after claims of abuse and mismanagement.

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Liz Gregory from the Gloriavale Leavers Trust says the secret religious community commissioned the review and have no responsibility to make it public. Source: Breakfast

Last year police launched Operation Minneapolis looking into the community, while Gloriavale also comes under the scope of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

“I must be missing something, to be honest, because are we supposed to wait until 2023 when the report's due?

“Whats going to happen to the current state of affairs?” Gregory asked.