Former member upset Gloriavale is still a charity after abuse allegations

Former Gloriavale members say they're disgusted the West Coast religious group is still a charity, following allegations of sexual abuse, spiritual abuse and emotional harm.

Charities Services - a government organisation that promotes public trust and confidence in charities and the use of resources - is refusing to investigate Gloriavale for the third time over abuse allegations.

Former Gloriavale member Virginia Courage, who has spent just 10 months outside after 41 years inside, told Newshub she's upset the service isn't investigating the allegations.

"The people in there have no voice, and the Charities Service was actually a legal way that they would actually be able to be heard," Courage said.

It is her first time speaking about her experiences at Gloriavale, and she said her greatest regret is not fleeing earlier.

"We had so little control over our own lives, even less over our children's lives."

Everything is controlled by the leaders or shepherds right down to "the temperature of your shower", she said. 

Charities Services investigated Gloriavale in 2013 and 2016. Since then, 35 former members have written a joint letter to the Charities Services outlining further allegations.

"Sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse," Courage said.

In a statement, Charities Services told Newshub it refers any allegations of a criminal nature to the appropriate agencies, like police. It added it gave the letter of complaint robust consideration but didn't identify any new issues that represent serious wrongdoing. 

In July, police launched its own investigation into allegations of sexual abuse at Gloriavale invoving teenage boys, confirming to Newshub "the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been brought at this stage".

Oranga Tamariki - the Ministry for Children - is also involved and is supporting families at the religious sect.

"We are continuing work to support young people and families at Gloriavale, and we are in regular contact with the community," it said.

"We are not able to comment further at this stage due to the police enquiries which are still underway."

Gloriavale Leavers Support Trust general manager Liz Gregory is in talks with the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care. She wants Gloriavale to be included in the inquiry.

"We need a historical look at how did Gloriavale get to how it is today. It didn't come out of nowhere, this started somewhere," she said.

Courage said all former Gloriavale members "know what we've been through", but she's worried for those caught inside whose voices can't be heard.