In a recent posting ³Brian² (whoever he or she may be) announces that he has acquired records of the ³court hearings of the child molestation charges² against Leadbeater. These should, indeed, be interesting documents, since no such hearings ever occurred. The allegations against Leadbeater occurred at several points in his career:
1. During his time as an Anglican clergyman there seem to have been some allegations (hitherto not published) which may have partially explained his sudden departure from England to follow Madame Blavatsky. No criminal charges or court hearings occurred.
2. The 1906 allegations, which led to Leadbeater¹s resignation from the Theosophical Society, were never subjected to any judicial inquiry. There is a very interesting legal question as to whether Olcott and the members of the TS committee that conducted the internal inquiry into the matter were guilty of the British crime (which no longer exists) of misprision of felony: a serious allegation of child sexual assault had been made to them, the alleged offender made sufficient admissions to suggest that a felony had been committed, and they did nothing to report the matter to the police. It is, however, arguable that, since the alleged offenses occurred outside the British jurisdiction (i.e. in the USA), no offense had been committed under British law. Serious discussion of the dangers of misprision of felony arose in British Theosophical circles in relation to admissions of homosexual offenses relating to James Wedgwood in the 1920¹s.
3. A further allegation against Leadbeater arose in 1912 in connection with the case brought by Krishnamurti¹s father, Narayaniah, to regain custody of his son. Narayaniah alleged that he had seen Leadbeater ³committing an unnatural offense² with Krishnamurti. This allegation was fairly quickly abandoned by Narayaniah, and was found to have no substance in the court¹s final judgement. The details of the 1906 case were considered to some extent by the court; Leadbeater denied ever having had any physical contact with his boy pupils (which he had admitted to the 1906 committee), but, very strangely, stated that he had helped one boy to ³overcome the necessity of circumcision² by means of ³indicative action². The court did not pursue this curious statement. The court determined that Leadbeater was unfit to associate with children, not on the basis of proven misconduct, but because of his ³immoral ideas².
4. The so-called ³Sydney troubles² began with allegations made to the Sydney Police from the Point Loma Theosophists in 1917. There was an initial, very superficial Police investigation in 1917, and a detailed inquiry in 1922. Although the Point Loma allegations related essentially to the events of 1906, the Police inquiry considered possible current sexual offenses. The inquiry took evidence and statements from a number of people, including Krishnamurti and his brother, Nityananda, although Leadbeater refused to be interviewed. The substantial records of this inquiry make very interesting reading. The Police clearly concluded that there had been a sexual relationship between Leadbeater and some of his boys, but that there were no real prospects for obtaining a conviction, given the unquestioning loyalty of the boys to their teacher. The matter did not, therefore, lead to charges before any court. The ³inner side² of what had been occurring between Leadbeater and his boys (as disclosed by some of his disciples) was finally revealed in my PhD thesis in 1986, although some details had been given in ³The Elder Brother².
5. Public allegations were made in Sydney newspapers in 1926 (with headlines like ³Leadbeater¹s Illicit Lessons Lead Boys Astray²), and one of Leadbeater¹s close disciples, Gustav Kollerstrom, initiated a law suit against one of the newspapers concerned. The paper was delighted and announced its intentions of calling Leadbeater as a witness, and producing the records of the Police inquiry. Kollerstrom sought to withdraw his action, the newspaper refused to agree, and when the case reached the court Kollerstrom failed to present a case, and was ordered to pay the full costs of the newspaper. The court did not consider the allegations against Leadbeater at all.
So: Leadbeater was never charged with or tried for any sexual offenses, no charges were ever laid or tried, and no judicial decisions ever made with regard to allegations of sexual misconduct (with the exception of Narayaniah¹s abandoned claim in the 1912 custody case).
I therefore await with great anticipation the production of the records of the ³court hearings of the child molestation charges² against Leadbeater.
Dr Gregory Tillett