was a Mormon church member in Australia; pleaded guilty to 7 charges of child abuse and bestiality including downloading images; he was caught in an international sting operation involving Australian and US agencies

Case Summary

Bret Chesworth, a Mormon church member in Australia, was jailed for sex crimes.

FLOODLIT is looking for more information about Chesworth’s history in the LDS church.

Sources
  1. Man refused bail over allegations of bestiality, child abuse material
    view source details | 28 Nov 2020 | Sydney Morning Herald
  2. MAN ACCUSED OF CHILD ABUSE OFFENCES FACING EXTRA CHARGE
    view source details | 24 Feb 2021 | NBN News
  3. Global child abuse ring member Bret Anthony Chesworth jailed for crimes of the 'worst kind'
    view source details | 9 Dec 2021 | ABC Australia
  4. Bret Chesworth of New Lambton Heights jailed for role in major online network of Australian child sex offenders
    view source details | 11 Dec 2021 | New Castle Herald
Sources excerpts
  • Man refused bail over allegations of bestiality, child abuse material
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: Sydney Morning Herald
    Date published/accessed: 28 Nov 2020
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A man accused of being a member of an online network sharing child abuse material will remain behind bars until Monday after his barrister told a court the allegations his client is facing could be described as "horrid" or "heinous".

    Bret Anthony Chesworth, 54, from the Newcastle suburb of New Lambton Heights, was arrested on Friday and charged with seven offences relating to accessing, transmitting and soliciting child abuse material. He also faces one count of bestiality.
    Bret Anthony Chesworth is arrested by federal police on Friday.

    Bret Anthony Chesworth is arrested by federal police on Friday.Credit: Australian Federal Police

    On Saturday, his barrister David Murray told Newcastle Bail Court that the child abuse material charges span from March 2019 to November 2020 and all relate to the same material, meaning the allegations relate to "character, if you like, rather than substance".

    "It is offending of the same nature, it’s not as though it’s a string of break and enters," Mr Murray said.

    He said this is "not a case in which there are victims at hand", adding that he doesn't "denigrate or diminish the significance of the residual victims, if I can put it that way".

    Mr Murray said Mr Chesworth, who has lived in the Newcastle area for about 20 years, is unemployed and not in contact with his children or grandchildren after an acrimonious divorce.

    The court was told Mr Chesworth cares for an elderly person and that person's disabled daughter, and the only criminal charge he has ever faced is "a barcode offence related to a self-service checkout".

    "He acknowledges the [alleged] offending is serious, there’s no doubt about that. It would be silly to say otherwise," Mr Murray said. "He accepts there is obviously an effect upon the victims."

    Mr Murray said Mr Chesworth has surrendered his electronic devices and passport, and was willing to comply with a bail condition which excluded him from accessing the internet in any way unless he was supervised by his lawyer.

    "He is for all intents and purposes a 54-year-old man living in a house, doing some charitable caring work, unemployed … wondering about the state of his life, as we all do, then he finds himself here," Mr Murray said.

    The barrister said some would describe the alleged offending as "heinous".

    "Despite the gravamen of the offending being, dare I say it, horrid – perhaps an under-description … you can ameliorate the community’s concerns by imposing the relevant conditions," Mr Murray said.

    Police prosecutor Sergeant Lyn Palywoda opposed bail, saying the allegations were "very serious" and police have a strong case against Mr Chesworth. She said if he is released on bail, he may destroy evidence.

    Sergeant Palywoda said some of the messages Mr Chesworth exchanged discussed children known to him, and police discovered a pair of male children's underwear in his bedside table.

    A registrar declined to grant Mr Chesworth bail because any condition excluding him from accessing the internet would have to be attached to an enforcement condition, which the registrar did not have the power to impose.

    Mr Chesworth will face court again on Monday.

    In a statement on Saturday, an AFP spokesperson said Mr Chesworth is the 15th person arrested as part of Operation Arkstone, a large-scale investigation into an online network of alleged child sex offenders. The operation has resulted in a total of 828 charges being laid.

    AFP Detective Superintendent Ben McQuillan said the online network, of which Mr Chesworth is alleged to be a member, is "appalling" and the material shared and downloaded "horrific".

    "Our investigators are leaving no stone unturned," Detective Superintendent McQuillan said.

    Anyone with information on the network is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

  • back to online sources list
    MAN ACCUSED OF CHILD ABUSE OFFENCES FACING EXTRA CHARGE
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: NBN News
    Date published/accessed: 24 Feb 2021
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A Newcastle man accused of child abuse offences has been slapped with another charge.

    Bret Chesworth was arrested as part of a wide-scale federal police investigation, as reporter Tyson Cottrill explains.

  • back to online sources list
    Global child abuse ring member Bret Anthony Chesworth jailed for crimes of the 'worst kind'
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: ABC Australia
    Date published/accessed: 9 Dec 2021
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A New South Wales man who was a member of a global child abuse network has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years' jail for crimes a court heard were of the "worst kind".

    Warning: This article contains details that some readers may find distressing
    Key points:

    Bret Anthony Chesworth has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years' jail
    Chesworth pleaded guilty to charges including possessing child abuse material
    He was arrested by Australian Federal Police at his home on Newcastle's outskirts as part of Operation Arkstone

    Bret Anthony Chesworth, 55, pleaded guilty to seven of nine charges earlier this year.

    The guilty pleas related to the possession of child abuse material and using a carriage service to transmit and access child abuse material between March 2019 and September last year.

    The Newcastle District Court heard Chesworth was caught with a series of images of children on his phone and other devices, including images of a six-month-old baby.

    The two charges that were dropped included a bestiality offence against his cavoodle pet dog between December 2019 and November 2020.
    Judge scathing of Chesworth

    Chesworth was arrested by Australian Federal Police at his New Lambton Heights home on the outskirts of Newcastle in November last year.

    He was the 15th of more than 20 suspects arrested as part of Operation Arkstone, which was established following a report from the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

    In handing down his sentence, Judge Chris O'Brien said a video sent by Chesworth of an adult male raping a toddler was particularly disturbing, showing a child experiencing significant pain and distress.

    "Right-thinking members of the community would find that video abhorrent," the judge said.

    The court heard another video that he sent showed a baby being sexually abused by a woman.

    Judge O'Brien noted other offending included "Daddy, son" fantasies.
    A map showing a line between Australia and the US.
    The web of suspects arrested as part of the global Operation Arkstone.(Supplied: Australian Federal Police)

    "All of the offending was part of an ongoing course of criminal conduct," he said.

    "The offender engaged in a collaborative network of like-minded people to access, transmit and solicit child-abuse material."

    He noted that Chesworth had wrestled with his sexuality and was forced by his Mormon father to undergo six months of homosexual conversion therapy.

    The judge said Chesworth had confided in a psychologist, while awaiting sentence, that he had "paedophilic and deviant interests".
    'Abhorrent, depraved' offending

    The "depraved" nature of Chesworth's crimes were highlighted by Commonwealth prosecutor Sarah Short in her closing address, ahead of the sentencing.

    Ms Short said Chesworth encouraged his co-offenders to commit crimes and that the children involved were extremely distressed.

    She said Chesworth's offending was "abhorrent", "particularly depraved" and that the material he was caught with was of "the worst kind".

    Judge O'Brien said while Chesworth had a limited criminal history, his prospects for rehabilitation were guarded.

    He said the sentence reflected a 30 per cent discount for Chesworth's guilty pleas and other factors, including the impact COVID was having on inmates in the state's jails.

    Due to time already served, Chesworth will be eligible for parole in May 2023.

  • back to online sources list
    Bret Chesworth of New Lambton Heights jailed for role in major online network of Australian child sex offenders
    Source type: News article
    Publisher: New Castle Herald
    Date published/accessed: 11 Dec 2021
    archive 1 | archive 2

    A NEWCASTLE member of a major network of Australian child sex offenders, who abused and exploited children and shared the images and videos on encrypted and content-expiring messaging apps, has been jailed for a maximum of four-and-a-half years.

    [excerpt only; article is behind a paywall]

Mormon Sexual Abuse Map

International map of locations where active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints perpetrated or allegedly perpetrated sexual abuse or other sex crimes, or where LDS leaders failed or allegedly failed to help abuse survivors.