An Australian man who lost his daughter to a dangerous cult — whose members are accused of sexually exploiting young women — has told of his struggle to win her back.
Camilla Wageman was a promising young law student at the Australian National University when she was approached by recruiters from group Providence, also known as Jesus Morning Star.
The leader of the South Korean-based Christian sect, Jeong Myeong-seok, is a self-proclaimed Messiah — and a convicted rapist.
Former female cult members were told they could be purified by becoming his “spiritual brides” and having sex with him, ABC’s 7.30 reports.
Camilla Wageman’s father, Gerry, told 7.30 he had no idea his daughter was involved in the cult until he recognised her in an item broadcast on SBS current affairs show The Feed.
He said he felt “a sense of disbelief and a realisation that I really had lost my daughter”.
Mr Wageman told the ABC Camilla, who appeared in apromotional video for the cult in defence of its controversial leader, had “adopted a new family”.
Contact with his daughter is limited to the occasional email or phone call and the subject of Providence is off-limits, he told 7.30.
Desperate for more information on the cult, Mr Wagemen contacted anti-cult activist and academic Peter Daley, who has researched the sinister cult.
He told 7.30 Providence was created to serve the needs of convicted rapist Jeong Myeong-seok.
He first encountered the group when he arrived in South Korea in 2003.
The church, he told the ABC, “seemed to place importance on really beautiful women”.
“The leader wasn’t there. He was a fugitive,” Mr Daley said. “But his brother was there, and he was surrounded by an entourage of women who looked like they had stepped out of a magazine. It’s a strange thing for a church to be focusing on.”
Ros Hodgkins, who founded the Cult Information and Family Support after her own daughter became involved in a sect, told the ABC recruiters were cunning in the way they targeted vulnerable young people.
“All of these cults use a very similar way of recruitment and that is by putting on fun activities, by looking wonderful on the outside.
“And they don’t disclose exactly what those people are going to end up having to believe andhow they’re having to behave.”
When contacted by the ABC, both Providence and Camilla Wageman rejected all allegations made against them.
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