Australia: Adelaide Hills cult leader James Salerno found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse - - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaAdelaide Hills cult leader James Salerno found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse

11:25  24 may  2019
11:25  24 may  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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The leader of an Australian cult has been found guilty of repeatedly sexually assaulting a girl who was a member of the group, starting from when she was 13 years old.

Adelaide Hills cult leader James Salerno found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse© ABC NEWS James Salerno (left) leaving court in Adelaide last year. South Australian District Court Judge Paul Slattery found James Gino Salerno, 72, guilty of eight counts of unlawful sexual intercourse and not guilty of one count of the same charge.

He has been remanded in custody.

Adelaide Hills cult leader James Salerno found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse
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Throughout the trial, the court heard Salerno — who was also known as Taipan — was the leader of a cult which consisted of about 30 members and was based around his desire to create the "ideal human environment".

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The cult — which was registered as a tax-exempt charity — lived in the historic Arbury Park mansion in the Adelaide Hills from 2001 until 2008 before relocating to Beaudesert in south-east Queensland.

The group is now based on a large property at Kununurra in Western Australia's Kimberley region.

The court previously heard women in the cult were submissive to men and responsible for tending to Salerno, which included running him a bath and testing the water temperature with a thermometer to ensure it was to his liking, towel drying him afterwards, brushing his hair, giving him hand and leg massages, as well as manicures and pedicures.

Women were also responsible for looking after the children, cooking and cleaning.

Adelaide Hills cult leader James Salerno found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse© District Court The historic Arbury Park mansion in Aldgate, where James Salerno's alleged cult was based from 2001 to 2008. Inside workings of the cult revealed

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The trial heard all members of the group were required to wear white clothes and do exercises every morning before breakfast at 7:00am and then all of the children had to line up in a row.

Prosecutors told the court each child had a ranking and had to obey the higher-ranking children.

If they stepped outside the hierarchy of rules, the court heard they would be punished, including by being treated as a slave, sleeping outside or being denied food.

The court also heard that when Salerno would enter the room, all of the group's members would stand to attention, put their right arm over their shoulder and say "strength and honour", in a similar way to how the soldiers react to Russell Crowe's character in the 2000 movie Gladiator.

When the cult lived at Arbury Park — a mansion built by Sir Alexander Downer in 1935 and the childhood home of former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer — Salerno had a large bedroom suite on the second floor of the house, while other group members lived in dormitory-style accommodation called "The Barracks".

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Adelaide Hills cult leader James Salerno found guilty of unlawful sexual intercourse© District Court Dormitory-style accommodation which was dubbed 'The Barracks'. During the trial, Italian-born Salerno denied being the leader of the cult, saying he was "just the person who kept people going".

Accused 'inconsistent' and 'unreliable'

In finding Salerno guilty of eight counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, Judge Slattery said he was satisfied Salerno had an "inclination to engage in the charged sexual conduct with the complainant".

"And he was willing to act upon that inclination," he said.

"The evidence given by the complainant before me satisfied me that she was a reliable, credible, compelling and truthful witness.

"I have found that at times [Salerno's] evidence was inconsistent, it could not be reconciled with objective facts and on quite a number of occasions was plainly inaccurate and unreliable."

The case will return to court in July for sentencing submissions.

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