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Police investigate historical child abuse allegations involving ‘Two by Twos’ sect

Two by Twos news
Prominent members of the early Two by Twos in the USA, William Gill, William Irvine and George Walker. Image – © Wikipedia.

Recent investigations by authorities have revealed multiple reports of historical child sexual abuse within a secretive house-church operating in New Zealand for over a century, currently under scrutiny by the FBI.

Known informally as ‘Two by Twos’ to former members and ‘The Truth’ to current followers, the religious group conducts meetings in private residences, maintaining a low profile. The FBI’s inquiry into the sect in the United States, where over 700 alleged offenders have been reported, alongside reports of abuse in the UK and Australia, has prompted New Zealand victims to step forward.

Jillian Hishon, who grew up in the sect in Australia, now operates a hotline for Australasian victims, fielding calls from New Zealanders. She told state media that these cases primarily involve historical instances of child sexual abuse, with some perpetrators still within the church’s ranks. Despite the gravity of the allegations, a culture of silence has prevailed within the sect, discouraging victims from coming forward.

A current member, speaking anonymously, acknowledged the presence of between 50 and 60 leaders, known as Workers, who travel between members’ homes to conduct meetings. The insular nature of these gatherings, combined with a culture of secrecy, has created an environment ‘conducive to abuse’.

Religious expert Professor Peter Lineham said there was a vulnerability of sect members, particularly concerning the reverence accorded to the Workers, which perpetuates a power imbalance. There was also difficulty in addressing abuses due to the sect’s refusal to formally identify itself.

A spokesperson for the sect in New Zealand Wayne Dean told RNZ the church was committed to child safety, and has undertaken initiatives to prevent further abuse and support survivors, including external reviews of policies and procedures.

While the FBI has refrained from commenting on its investigation’s reach into New Zealand, it has obtained information from the public, and urged caution in approaching potential victims to avoid causing further distress.

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