KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 ― British paedophile Richard Huckle met his victims at the Community of Praise church, but church leaders and parents were unaware of any sexual abuse involving the children, a source said.
The highly-placed source said Huckle, 30, had visited the Protestant church run by Pastor Paul Packianathan ― which has branches in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, and in Jalan Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur ― as a photographer, and met impoverished ethnic Indian families who came to the church for food handouts.
“The church leaders and parents were unaware of the abuse; they only became aware this year,” the source told Malay Mail Online.
The source added that Huckle did not volunteer teaching at the church and that the photographer’s victims were from the surrounding community, but were not technically members of the church.
Another source described Community of Praise as an independent church, which means that there is less supervision and regulation as it does not belong to a wider body of churches.
“It’s a one-man show,” the source told Malay Mail Online. “They operate within informal structures.”
A group photograph posted on April 30, 2011, on the Community of Praise’s Facebook page shows Huckle posing with what appears to be the ethnic Indian congregation, including children, on Easter Day, April 24, at the Community of Praise Taman Wahyu church located in Kuala Lumpur.
Another Facebook post dated May 20, 2013, shows a poster announcing free lunches at the Community of Praise Taman Wahyu church every Sunday after service.
When contacted by Malay Mail Online earlier, Paul denied any child sexual abuse in his congregation or in the surrounding community.
He claimed that Huckle had merely visited the Community of Praise Taman Wahyu church “on and off” as a parishioner.
Huckle is facing several life sentences for the sexual abuse of babies and children aged between six months and 12 years from 2006 to 2014.
Huckle, who is believed to have abused up to 200 children, reportedly admitted 71 of 91 charges related to 23 girls and boys that included rape and sexual assault. Twenty-two children are reportedly from mainly impoverished Christian communities in Kuala Lumpur, where he posed as an English teacher and Christian philanthropist, while one is Cambodian.
UK broadcaster Sky News reported that Huckle, whose computer allegedly had over 20,000 indecent images of children, had offered to help teach at schools and churches in Malaysia and was sometimes employed for private tuition in his victims’ homes. He had lived permanently in Malaysia from 2011 until December 2014 when he was arrested at Gatwick Airport in the UK.