Documents detail horrific alleged abuse of young boys at circus school


Warning: Disturbing content

From the outside, the circus school appeared to be a haven.

Therese Ann Cook, 58, was arrested on Monday February 5.
Therese Ann Cook, 58, was arrested on Monday February 5. Photo: Facebook

At a home in Katoomba, Therese Ann Cook, 58, her brother Paul Christopher Cook, 52, and 23-year-old Clarissa Meredith were taken into custody by detectives, while 29-year-old Yyani Cook-Williams was arrested at Canterbury in Sydney's south-west.

Inside the venue. at the centre of allegations.
Inside the venue. at the centre of allegations.  Photo: Facebook

A 17-year-old girl, an 18-year-old man and a 20-year-old woman, who cannot be named as they were juveniles at the time, were also taken into custody.

Court documents tendered to Penrith Local Court detail the disturbing allegations against the four adults.

Therese Cook in costume.
Therese Cook in costume.  Photo: David Hill

Therese Cook faces 43 charges, the most of all of those arrested, while the 18-year-old boy was charged with 42 offences.

It is alleged Ms Cook detained, raped, assaulted and intimidated a seven-year-old boy, including on one occasion when two other people were present.

She is also accused of kidnapping, common assault, sexual intercourse with a child under 10, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and producing child abuse material.

It is alleged Ms Cook and Yyani Cook-Williams repeatedly raped a three-year-old boy, after detaining and assaulting him.

Paul Cook is accused of making child abuse material by filming the aggravated sexual assaults, as well as being in the room while other assaults unfolded.

Ms Meredith is accused of raping one of the boys seven times, detaining him to obtain gratification, assaulting him, and threatening him so he feared "physical or mental harm".

All four have denied the charges against them.

The identities of the group were initially concealed, but that order was lifted in Penrith Local Court on Thursday when Magistrate Stephen Corry decided in favour of five media organisations, including Fairfax Media, and lifted the suppression order.

The four plan to apply for bail next week, however, the offences are of such a serious nature they will remain behind bars unless they can prove their detention is not justified.

In court on Tuesday, lawyer Bryan Wrench said there was more to the story than police and the media had portrayed.

"They simply say 'we didn't do this and there is another side to this story'," Mr Wrench said.

He said the four adults had never been in custody before and intended to apply for bail on February 16.

The 17-year-old girl, 18-year-old man and 20-year-old woman appeared at a children's court on Tuesday where they did not apply for bail on charges including aggravated kidnapping, sexual intercourse with a child under 10, and aggravated sexual assault.

They will return to court in March.


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