The Order of St Charbel
Special Guest: Claire Ashman
Claire Ashman's memoir 'Lessons From A Cult Survivor' is now available for pre-order here.
Claire is known for her strength, courage and tenacity in the face of fierce opposition from her ex-husband and cult leaders, shortly before being evicted from one of Australia’s largest Doomsday Cults. Determinedly believing that she and her 8 children deserved a better life, she set about doing getting it for them.
Born into a “normal” Catholic family, Claire’s life changed dramatically when she was only 4 years old. Her mother went from being a Sunday Catholic to ultra-religious, almost overnight. Claire’s youth and teenage years were spent on a country property in Victoria, where she and her siblings were home-schooled. They had no access to television, newspapers or other media and no friends outside the sect. Their lives involved daily indoctrination, manipulation and religious guilt.
This restrictive upbringing heavily impacted the life choices Claire made when she left home. After marrying an older man whilst still a teenager and birthing five children in succession, her husband sold their Melbourne home and moved the family to the NSW South Coast. Shortly after moving there, Claire learned the ugly truth of a supposedly religious order and wanted to move out.
Having no access to money she was forced to stay another few years, birthing four more children in the meantime. Eventually she took to writing letters to the cult leaders which were seen as a threat to authority. Finally an opportunity to escape, in the form of eviction, presented itself. Claire grasped this newfound freedom with both hands, firmly fixed on making a better life for herself and her children.
Quite often their new life was a struggle due to lack of life experience and lack of education. Claire was tenacious in her commitment to improving herself, so she took to reading books and attending personal development seminars.
After her first marriage ended in divorce, Claire was intent on experiencing real romance so set about finding her soul-mate. Her dream was to attract a gentleman from England, Ireland or Scotland because she absolutely loves the accent! Four years ago, she met her love and you’ll find them living in sunny Brisbane, Australia with their children.
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
William Kamm has a 10pm curfew, and is not allowed to spend time with girls under the age of 17. He is prevented from entering the Shoalhaven district of New South Wales, and his movements and communications are monitored. These are conditions of his release after serving 9 years in jail for crimes he committed against two teenage girls – yet his followers still believe that he is the next true Pope, and that the Virgin Mary speaks to him on the 13th day of every month.
CW: references to manipulative behaviours, and sexual assault of minors. A small amount of coarse language. Please consider whether you would like to listen on this basis. Content is not suitable for children.
The opinions expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of the makers of Let's Talk About Sects.
If you have been personally affected by involvement in a cult, or would like to support those who have been, you can find support or donate to Cult Information and Family Support if you’re in Australia (via www.cifs.org.au), and you can find resources outside of Australia with the International Cultic Studies Association (via www.icsahome.com).
- Claire Ashman's website — where her book 'Lessons from a Cult Survivor' is available for pre-order.
- Lessons From A Cult Survivor — by Claire Ashman, 2018 – book pre-sale link
- A WOLF Among the SHEEP: How God's Prophet the Little Pebble Became a Womanising, Millionaire Cult Leader — by Graeme Webber, KeyStone Press, 2008
- The Little Pebble: The Last Pope, A Man of Contradiction, Petrus Romanus, Sinner or Saint? — by William Costellia, self-published, 1999 (volume 1)
- Official website of The Little Pebble
- William 'Little Pebble' Kamm's supervision to continue — AAP, The Illawarra Mercury, 8 January 2016
- DSM to Distinguish Paraphilias From Paraphilic Disorders — by Mark Moran, Psychiatric News, 3 May 2013
- South Coast cult leader William 'Little Pebble' Kamm fails to have supervision order lifted — by Angela Thompson, Illawarra Mercury, 14 August 2017
- The Republic Reform and Justice Party
- Little Pebble author 'surprised' by cult leader's impending release — ABC Illawarra, 12 November 2014
- Cult leader and convicted sex offender William Kamm to be freed within days — AAP, The Age, 11 November 2014
- Unrepentant Little Pebble talks about life behind bars — by Robert Crawford, South Coast Register, 2 July 2014
- Kamm loses sex crime conviction appeal — The Age, 9 July 2007
- Cult leader jailed for more sexual abuse — The Age, 4 August 2007
- Sex abuse sect leader loses court appeal — by Amy Coopes, The Age, 13 June 2008
- Social networking to be available to inmates — by Rachel Olding, The Age, 22 June 2014
- 'Little Pebble' guilty of abusing girl — The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 2007
- LP MISSION 01 SD — Video 1 - The Mission of the Little Pebble - the first in a series of six YouTube videos uploaded by Malcolm Broussard, 25 April 2015
- The Uganda Cult Tragedy: A Private Investigation — by Bernard Atuhaire, Janus Publishing Company, 2003
- Cult Leader, Sex Offender William 'Little Pebble' Kamm Talks Life In Jail— by Josh Butler, HuffPost Australia, 28 September 2016
- A man of visions — by Andrew Stevenson, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 June 2002
- When the Sun Danced: Myth, Miracles, and Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Portugal — by Jeffrey S. Bennett, University of Virginia Press, 2012
- The Battle of Bayside, Queens: a Q&A — by Joseph P. Laycock, Oxford University Press Blog, 29 March 2015
- Claims of Private Revelation: True or False? — An Evaluation of the messages of William Kamm, also known as The Little Pebble, by Ronald L. Conte Jr., 30 January 2006
- The Little Pebble: The testament and mystical life of William Kamm — Volume 1 of The Little Pebble: The Last Pope. A Man of Contradiction. Petrus Romanus, Sinner Or Saint? by William Kamm, 1999
- “Mourning the Death of Our Faith”: The Little Pebble and The Marian Work of Atonement 1950-1984 — by Bernard Doherty, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society, Vol 36, 2015
- The Seer of Bayside: Veronica Lueken and the Struggle to Define Catholicism — by Joseph P. Laycock, Oxford University Press, 2014
- Little Pebble describes life behind bars, aspirations for political future in 37-minute Justice Action video — by Shannon Tonkin, The Illawarra Mercury, 19 September 2016
- Judge punishes doomsday prophet — AAP, The Age, 14 October 2005
- Cult leader's jail sentence extended — ABC News online, 24 August 2007