Modern Slavery Charges Laid Against ‘Cult’ Leader

March 16, 2021 Updated: March 16, 2021

A NSW man, 40, will appear before Armidale Local Court on March 17 to face slavery and sexual servitude offences laid by the Australian Federal Police.

The former Australian Defence Force member was charged with three slavery and sexual servitude offences after being arrested outside an Armidale hardware store by plain-clothed Australian Federal Police tactical members at around 8 am on March 11.

Police allege the man manipulated an alleged victim between 2012 to 2015 into a “cult.”

The victim is said to have been allegedly subjected to ongoing physical, sexual, and psychological abuse and degradation during the period.

The woman also underwent an alleged physical assault by the man and allegedly received death threats upon expressing her wishes to leave.

Maximum penalties range between fifteen to twenty-five years in prison. The man’s charges include reducing a person to slavery, intentionally possessing a slave, and causing a person to enter into servitude.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough said the alleged victim was held in “slave-like conditions.” Inquires to date reveal the man refers to himself as the patriarch of a group known as the ‘House of Cadifor’.

It is alleged the man was living with six women on the outskirts of Armidale and that the women had allegedly signed documents known as slavery contracts, had a slave collar, and a slave tattoo.

More than 50 AFP investigators and forensic specialists searched the man’s property last week, around 30km from Armidale, for fifteen hours and seized documents, phone, cameras, and computers, which will undergo forensic analysis.

The current charges are related to one alleged victim, but investigations remain ongoing, and further charges relating to potential victims have not been ruled out.

Gough said the AFP is appealing to any victims, potential witnesses, or communities impacted by human trafficking to know there are support systems and pathways in place.

“We want the public to be aware that human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices are happening here in Australia, all too often without anyone in the community knowing,” Gough said.

“Our hope is for every case we investigate; it helps others experiencing similar conditions to speak up and seek our help.

“It is up to all of us to work together to protect people who are vulnerable to the exploitative crimes of modern slavery.”

Australian Federal Police (AFP) human trafficking investigators have been assessing allegations of potential sexual servitude offences by the man under Operation Saintes. The investigation progressed when detailed information regarding the alleged actions of the man was provided to the AFP.

The AFP also acknowledged and thanked the ABC Four Corners program for assisting with the Operation Saintes investigation.