BY day he was the committed Pentecostal Christian youth pastor who ran a Hunter refuge for youths and praised Jesus during Assemblies of God church services at Hamilton.
By night Christopher Laban Bridge was a sexual predator, whose abuse of two boys was known by at least one Assemblies of God church leader from the early 1970s, before Bridge moved to the Hunter to take up a youth pastor position.
Court documents show Bridge moved to a Hamilton Assemblies of God church in 1975 after a Dubbo Assemblies of God minister was told Bridge sexually abused two boys in far west NSW. Bridge went on to sexually abuse a third boy at Charlestown in 1976 and a fourth boy at Cardiff in the early 1980s.
Bridge, 69, of Yarramalong, has entered guilty pleas to sexually abusing the four boys, including a boy who was abused at a Hunter refuge for “young people with drug addictions” after Bridge told him: “I need to check you to see if you are a virgin.”
Bridge sexually abused two of the boys while staying at his parents’ Wyong Creek home in the early 1970s, and organised camping trips where boys would wake to find him kneeling beside them, masturbating, with a hand on their genitals.
I need to check you to see if you are a virgin.Pentecostal Christian youth pastor Christopher Laban Bridge
One of his victims said there would not be justice until the former Pentecostal Christian Assemblies of God church, now known as Australian Christian Churches, was “held accountable for its endorsement and lack of due diligence” of Bridge, after evidence no action was taken by the Dubbo church leader in 1975 after two boys alleged they had been sexually abused by him.
A police statement of facts, signed by Bridge, includes details of an assault on a boy, 15, during a camping trip at Broken Hill in 1975 when Bridge was 26. Police told a Wyong Local Court magistrate that the boy later confronted Bridge who became so enraged the boy “locked himself in the offender’s car for a number of hours until the offender calmed down”.
The two returned to Dubbo where the boy told his parents who “reported it to the pastor of the church at the time”.
The pastor spoke to the boy and his brother who both alleged they had been sexually abused by Bridge, but “no further action was taken”, police said.
Bridge will appear in Gosford District Court on Thursday for the setting of a sentencing hearing date after pleading guilty to offences at Warren, Wyong Creek, West Wyalong, Broken Hill, Cardiff and Charlestown between 1972 and 1983.
Court documents show Bridge was 26 when he moved to Newcastle in 1975 after working as an Assemblies of God youth pastor in Dubbo. He joined Hamilton Assemblies of God church and “ran a refuge for young people with drug addictions”.
One of Bridge’s Dubbo victims was 12, and from a family heavily involved with the church, when he came in contact with Bridge at youth activities on Friday and Saturday nights.
“He recalls Bridge would purchase him, and other young males involved with the church, presents each birthday and Christmas, and would also allow them to drive his car and ride his motorbike,” police said.
He sexually abused the boy during a camping trip.
Bridge sexually abused one boy, 15, in the home of another Assemblies of God minister in Melbourne. The sexual abuse ended several days later when the boy physically hit Bridge.
A Lake Macquarie boy, 13, was sexually abused in a church hall during a camping trip with a number of other boys organised by Bridge.
Bridge was charged with the historical child sex offences after a man reported the matters to police in 2016.
An Australian Christian Churches spokesperson said it would respond to questions on Wednesday.
The former Hamilton Assemblies of God church, now known as Generation City Church, requested questions about Bridge’s involvement with the church to be put in writing.