Gloriavale father convicted for assaulting daughters across 13 years

An assault case that Gloriavale tried to keep suppressed can now be revealed, shining light on a culture of child discipline in the religious sect. 

Clem Ready has been convicted for assaulting his two daughters Connie Ready and the late Prayer Ready.

Ready disciplined his daughters using his open hand and objects including a shoe, slipper, belt, and on one occasion he used a framing square to discipline Connie.

Prayer was aged between five and 12 years old when Clem Ready would use physical discipline, and Constance was aged between five and 17. The charges, of assault with a weapon, span a period of 13 years.

Clem Ready was sentenced to 12 months supervision in the Greymouth District Court in May this year. 

Clem, Connie and Prayer Ready.
Clem, Connie and Prayer Ready. Photo credit: Newshub

Judge Tony Couch said the assaults "constituted serious breaches of trust that children are entitled to have in their parents that they will be treated properly".

The case has been kept secret until now because Clem Ready had name suppression, and all details linking him to Gloriavale were also suppressed. 

The suppression was lifted on Thursday after a hearing in the Court of Appeal in Christchurch, where Newshub made submissions arguing it was in the public interest.

Newshub had earlier successfully argued for the suppression to be lifted in the High Court, but Gloriavale appealed that.

Connie also argued for her father's suppression to be lifted.

In sentencing, Judge Couch described physical discipline where Clem Ready would hit the girls on their lower back and buttocks, causing pain and discomfort.

"The victims suffered not only physical pain but also emotional distress," Judge Couch said. 

"The victims were children, unable for the most part to defend themselves. The defendant was in a position of absolute authority over them. They were highly vulnerable."

Prayer Ready died from unrelated causes when she choked on her food in 2015.
Prayer Ready died from unrelated causes when she choked on her food in 2015. Photo credit: Newshub

Prayer, who had Down syndrome, was particularly vulnerable. She passed away from unrelated causes aged 14 - when she choked on her food in June 2015. 

Connie, whose full name is Constance Ready, ran away from Gloriavale after Prayer's death and went to police with the allegations.

In noting the mitigating factors for Clem Ready's offending, Judge Couch said "the culture of the community influenced the way in which he disciplined his children".

He was also under stress from working 70 hours a week in a rendering plant.

"This left him exhausted and feeling under constant pressure which he says was not recognised or alleviated by the community leadership for many years," Judge Couch said.

Connie Ready ran away from Gloriavale after her sister Prayer's death.
Connie Ready ran away from Gloriavale after her sister Prayer's death. Photo credit: Newshub

He said while these factors helped to explain Clem Ready's offending, they did not excuse it - and he always had choices. 

Since the charges were first laid by police, Clem Ready has taken anger management sessions and parenting lessons, which "made him aware that there are other ways of disciplining his children besides hitting them".

In a restorative justice meeting involving his wife, Connie, and three other immediate family members, Clem Ready gave insight into his offending "and a measure of remorse for the harm he has done to the victims".

He offered $1000 in reparations to Connie, and Judge Couch said while money could not undo the emotional damage, it showed that Mr Ready understood he had done real harm to his victims.

In addition to his sentence of 12 months supervision, Clem Ready was ordered to participate in courses such as counselling or other intervention measures that the probation officer sees fit, and was ordered to pay Connie $1000 in reparations.

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