Doomsday cult chief to face court
The Adelaide Advertiser
November 17, 2010
CONTROVERSIAL religious cult leader Rocco Leo will return to South Australia in January to face assault charges, The Advertiser has learned.
The head of Agape Ministries - labelled a "doomsday cult" by opponents - is accused of brawling with a man at Adelaide Airport in April.
Although listed to appear in the Holden Hill Magistrates Court yesterday, Leo did not attend and the case was adjourned until January.
His lawyer, Craig Caldicott, said he would attend court on the next occasion, that being in January.
Leo, 54, has yet to plead to one count of assault, one count of damaging property and one count of communicating a false representation to police.
Police will allege that, on April 14, he assaulted Philip Arbon - the man who first spoke out about the controversial church. Mr Arbon claims Leo attacked him when he tried to take a photograph of him, damaging his camera and backpack.
Police will further allege Rocco made false representations to their officers at Holden Hill following the altercation.
Mr Arbon and other former members claim Leo defrauded millions from his followers to buy a South Pacific island. They claim Leo said the world's population would soon be implanted with tiny microchips containing all personal information.
Leo is also being sued by former Ministry members Silvia Melchiorre and Martin Penney, who claim they were duped into handing over $1.2 million and $420,000 respectively.
He allegedly said anyone who refused the chip would be branded terrorists and be gassed or beheaded in government concentration camps.
Mr Penney alleges Leo also warned them that those people who agreed to be micro-chipped would also die - from a slow-release poison hidden within the devices.
Agape members have denied this, but admitted microchipping was "discussed in Bible study class".
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