Every year on the month of April, the United States of America celebrates Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) alongside National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities on how to prevent it. While in 2016, the then President of USA, Barack Obama, issued a Presidential proclamation stating: “During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to give every child a chance to succeed and to ensure that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect”.
Awareness with regards to issues of sexual assault is rising, and that includes Malaysia. Yet, this did not stop one Richard Huckle from raping children in Malaysia. He groomed and abused up to 200 Malaysian babies and children. As a trophy of his achievements, shared images of his horrific crimes on the dark web. He was a predatory paedophile!
Richard Huckle,32, is a Briton,a photographer originally from Kent, England. He came to Malaysia posing as an English teacher and a philanthropist for poor Christian communities in Kuala Lumpur. He admitted to an unprecedented 71 offences including rape against children aged between six months to 12 years from 2006 to 2014. After which he was caught in 2014.1
He was also found to put together a 60-page manual, “Paedophiles and Poverty: Child Love Guide”, on how to select deprived victims and avoid detection. He wanted to create a “Paedo Wiki Guide” and publish it online.
He also devised a game to reward himself over his deviancy with different points for 15 different levels of depravity on children. The merits were rated from “basic” to “hardcore” on a “Paedopoints” ledger in his laptop.2 Richard Huckle was called “The devil that hid in the church” in The Star Online, a Malaysian news portal.
He was depicted because of his vile acts in a church in Kuala Lumpur. He was said to have spent three months on a placement at a church in Kuala Lumpur. Being a native Briton, Huckle returned regularly to Malaysia. He would offer help to teach at schools and churches. He even started to groom children while doing voluntary work in Kuala Lumpur. During his posting, he also abused children in the church.3
To be precise, the church in mention is the Community of Praise, a Protestant church run by Pastor Paul Packianathan. This sacred location has branches in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, and in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur. Described as an independent church, there is less supervision and regulation as it does not belong to a wider body of churches.
However, Pastor Paul eventually denied any child sexual abuse in his congregation or in the surrounding community. He claimed that Huckle had merely visited the Community of Praise, church in Taman Wahyu “on and off” as a parishioner.4
Back in 2015, one of the church’s branches in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya was put in the limelight. Gaining fame for being built on a commercial lot and operating illegally without a permit. A group of 50 people demonstrated in front of the establishment to protest and demand that the Christian symbol of the Cross to be taken down. To quote from the Malay Mail Online, “It’s a one-man show. They operate within informal structures”.5,6
Reading this tale with remorse, anger, and resentment for what has happened in a holy sanctuary. However in retrospect, all of the trauma caused to these poor souls could have been avoided if Community of Praise was sanctified to be begin with. Perhaps, when those in charge of the Community of Praise tried to flee supervision and regulation they fell into the devil’s trap.
But then, it would be better still for the affected children, if it wasn’t there at all in the first place.