1491965158891 - Convicted child sex offender living in Gloriavale

Convicted child sex offender living in Gloriavale

A convicted child sex offender who sexually abused a drunk 15-year-old boy during games of truth or dare has moved to Gloriavale and assumed a new identity.

Brent John Carpenter, who has legally changed his name to Courageous Sojourner, has lived at the controversial closed Christian community since at least 2015.

Before arriving at Gloriavale, the 47-year-old was sentenced  to two years and five months in jail after pleading guilty to three charges of unlawful sexual connection with the teenage boy.

Carpenter was released from prison in May 2014. His release conditions expired six months later, which means he is no longer subject to monitoring.

READ MORE: * Inside Gloriavale: The official story * Young couple tells of life after Gloriavale ​* Victim: Gloriavale leader is no man of god

Police became aware of his move to Gloriavale after a routine traffic stop on the West Coast.

It is understood the discovery rang alarm bells and a detective was sent to the community to check Carpenter wasn’t putting himself in a position to reoffend.

Gloriavale leaders told the police officer they disapproved of his criminal history and assured them they would keep a close eye on him.

While police say officers make regular visits to the community in order to identify risks of this nature, Gloriavale’s policy is to try to deal with alleged instances of sexual abuse within the community before involving the authorities.

It is unclear why Carpenter moved to Gloriavale. He has not returned calls from Stuff.

According to court documents, Carpenter befriended the 15-year-old boy in Levin in 2010.

A relationship developed – Carpenter would buy the boy food and give him money – and on three occasions the boy visited his house.

“You [Carpenter] gave him [the boy] alcohol and you asked him to play a game of truth and dare involving you daring him to lie naked on your bed and on each of those three separate occasions you performed oral sex on him,” Judge Barbara Morris said in the sentencing notes.

The offending came to light when the boy’s mother looked at his cell-phone.

Judge Morris said Carpenter had led a “somewhat sad life” where he was isolated, lived in different places and had not made many friends. 

He had previous convictions, but not of a sexual nature, the sentencing notes said.

Carpenter is not the only convicted sex offender living in the closed community.

Gloriavale founder Neville Cooper, who goes by the name Hopeful Christian, was convicted of sex abuse charges in 1995. He was sentenced to five years in prison for three counts of indecently assaulting Yvette Olsen at the Springbank Christian Community in Cust, North Canterbury, where the community was based at the time.

Cooper was released on parole in November 1996 after serving less than two years of his original sentence.

At the time the judge said it was difficult to imagine a more serious example of indecent assault.

Olsen had her name suppression lifted in order to speak out against Cooper and the community. In 2015, she told TVNZ “[Cooper] didn’t have the right to do what he did, he is no man of God”.

West Coast area commander Inspector Mel Aitken would not answer questions about Carpenter, saying police were unable to discuss the specifics of any individual or case concerned.

Aitken said police had an “ongoing positive relationship and commitment” to Gloriavale and officers made regular visits to the community.

Police worked with Gloriavale leaders to provide advice and support, and address any identified risks that came to the attention of police or the community, Aitken said.

“Should concerns come to police attention or be raised by members within the community, strategies are discussed and implemented to ensure those residing within the community, are kept safe from harm.”

Any criminal offences identified were dealt with by police in the same way they were in any other community, she said.

​However, a Charities Services investigation revealed that Gloriavale trustees are encouraged to deal with allegations of sexual assault within the community rather than involve the authorities.

The Charities Services report lists recommendations as to the correct procedure to follow in the instance of sexual abuse allegations.

They include gathering information from the alleged offender and victim, and any witnesses. If it is determined a sexual assault did take place then the trust should gather tha parties involved and “stress the seriousness of disobeying the commandments of the Bible and teachings of the church against such sin”. The trust should also stress the seriousness of breaking the law.

The report goes on to recommend the offender be required to leave the community, and confess to police, if they continued to offend.

If the person came to “true repentance” then they could ask to return to the community. 

Gloriavale senior member Fervent Stedfast declined to comment about Carpenter’s move to the community and measures that were in place to ensure he did not reoffend.

“It’s not a subject that we want to discuss with the [media] or the public. It’s entirely our affair. I’m not discussing anything about it.”

Carpenter’s father said he and his wife were aware their son had joined Gloriavale but said he didn’t want anything to do with his new life.

The Wellington man said he didn’t know why Carpenter made the move and he did not keep in regular contact with him.

“He’s a loose unit. That’s all I can say really.”

There is an ongoing police investigation into allegations of historical sexual abuse at Gloriavale, but no charges have been laid.