“Catholic Church abuse processes ‘deeply flawed'” new inquiry submission” & related articles

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By Barney Zwartz

The Catholic Church put the safety of clergy sexual abuse victims at risk by offering inadequate support in areas like Ballarat, according to a new submission to the abuse inquiry.

In one instance in Melbourne, a suicidal victim was told to ring back in four days, according to evidence compiled by law firm Lewis Holdway for the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled abuse.

Another victim who was told his statement to Melbourne Response independent commissioner Peter O’Callaghan, QC, was completely confidential then found it used by the church to try to discredit the victim during the trial of his civil damages claim.

Many clients have been significantly further damaged as a result of going through a church process.

Lewis Holdway, which has represented 200 victims over 17 years, was one of 10 submissions published under parliamentary privilege on the inquiry’s website late on Monday.

Lewis Holdway says another life put at risk was a child in real danger from a paedophile priest, whose mother was told she had to wait until she got a letter from Mr O’Callaghan.

It says some parishes – including Ballarat, Healesville and Doveton – that had a succession of paedophile priests need special support that they have not received, and asks the inquiry to investigate claims that a paedophile ring of priests may have operated in some parishes.

The firm cites a litany of alleged failures from the protocol the Melbourne church set up in 1996, saying some clients were misled into thinking church lawyers were acting on the victims’ behalf, inappropriate questioning of victims about their sex lives, victims being pressured to attend internal church hearings where they felt they were the ones on trial rather than the perpetrator, and refusal to provide counselling for victims.

It says its clients have met many barriers to seek redress.

“It is our strong contention that many of the current church complaint processes are deeply flawed and are in need of significant reform.

“Many clients have been significantly further damaged as a result of going through a church process (a dynamic which we refer to as ‘systemic abuse’) and we remain concerned that this is likely to discourage victims from coming forward.”

The submission identifies “consistent and recurring” issues about lack of independence by church investigators, inadequate training and skills of staff, inadequate support, power imbalance, invasion of privacy, and lack of transparency and accountability.

Lewis Holdway makes a series of recommendations, including mandating more consistent settlements to victims and reviewing all previous settlements to ensure fair outcomes.

New submissions to the inquiry include three from the Catholic Church.

In November, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said child abusers should not be allowed to use statutory limitation restrictions to escape justice, but in a submission posted on Monday, dated May 16, he argues that abolishing limitations would be contrary to the public policy behind the legislation.

He also argues that there is no case that the church should face a longer claims period than parents, which ends when the victim turns 37.

Archbishop Hart clarified yesterday that he still favoured no limitation for criminal prosecutions of paedophile priests, but advocated the same limit as for parents in civil actions.

In a second submission, also dated last month, the church identifies and replies to 18 “misconceptions” about the church and abuse.

These include that abuse is still happening in the church, it’s just that it takes 20 years before victims come forward, that the church has done nothing to prevent abuse, that it investigates allegations in-house, that it has not co-operated with police or reported a single case, that it is more concerned with protecting its reputation, that there have been widespread cover-ups and that it hides behind legal defences.

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Church ‘put lives of sex abuse victims at risk’

The Sydney Morning Herald

Date          

Barney Zwartz

Barney Zwartz

Religion editor, The Age.

U-turn ... Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart fronts the clergy sex abuse inquiry in May.

U-turn … Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart fronts the clergy sex abuse inquiry in May. Photo: Joe Armao

The Catholic Church in Melbourne put the lives of clergy sexual abuse victims at risk, including telling one suicidal victim to ring back in four days, according to evidence to the Victorian inquiry into how the churches handled abuse.

Another victim was told his statement to Melbourne Response independent commissioner Peter O’Callaghan, QC, was completely confidential then found it used by the church to try to discredit the victim during the trial of his civil damages claim.

Many clients have been significantly further damaged as a result of going through a church process.

The evidence of law firm Lewis Holdway, which has represented 200 victims over 17 years, was one of 10 submissions published under parliamentary privilege on the inquiry’s website late on Monday.

Lewis Holdway says another life put at risk was a child in real danger from a paedophile priest. The child’s mother was told she had to wait until she got a letter from Mr O’Callaghan.

The submission says some parishes – including Ballarat, Healesville and Doveton – that had a succession of paedophile priests need special support that they have not received, and asks the inquiry to investigate claims that a ring of paedophile priests may have operated in some parishes.

The firm cites a litany of alleged failures from the protocol the Melbourne church set up in 1996, saying some clients were misled into thinking church lawyers were acting on the victims’ behalf, inappropriate questioning of victims about their sex lives, victims being pressured to attend internal church hearings where they felt they were the ones on trial rather than the perpetrator, and refusal to provide counselling for victims.

The submission says: ”It is our strong contention that many of the current church complaint processes are deeply flawed and are in need of significant reform. Many clients have been significantly further damaged as a result of going through a church process (a dynamic which we refer to as ‘systemic abuse’) and we remain concerned that this is likely to discourage victims from coming forward.”

The submission identifies ”consistent and recurring” issues about lack of independence by church investigators, inadequate training and skills of staff, inadequate support, power imbalance, invasion of privacy, and lack of transparency and accountability.

Lewis Holdway makes a series of recommendations, including mandating more consistent settlements to victims and reviewing all previous settlements to ensure fair outcomes.

New submissions to the inquiry include three from the Catholic Church. In November, Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said child abusers should not be allowed to use statutory limitation restrictions to escape justice, but in a submission posted on Monday, dated May 16, he argues that abolishing limitations would be contrary to the public policy behind the law.

He also argues that there is no case that the church should face a longer claims period than parents, which ends when the victim turns 37.

Archbishop Hart clarified on Tuesday that he still favoured no limitation for criminal prosecutions of paedophile priests but advocated the same limit as for parents in civil actions.

In a second submission, also dated last month, the church identifies and replies to 18 ”misconceptions” about the church and abuse. These include that abuse is still happening in the church, it’s just that it takes 20 years before victims come forward, that the church has done nothing to prevent abuse, that it investigates allegations in-house, that it has not co-operated with police or reported a single case, that it is more concerned with protecting its reputation, that there have been cover-ups.

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Porn found at priest residence: inquiry

The Australian
From:AAP 
July 02, 2013 5:51PM

PORNOGRAPHIC homosexual magazines and videos were found in the presbytery of a Hunter Valley Catholic priest later convicted of sexually assaulting a boy, a police whistleblower has told a special NSW commission of inquiry.

Detective chief inspector Peter Fox says a member of the Branxton Lochinvar parish told him he came across the material when he helped Fr James Fletcher move items from Branxton to Lochinvar in early 2003.

In the course of investigating child sexual abuse allegations against Fr Fletcher, Det Insp Fox asked him later that year about the magazines and videos.

“He said they belonged to a priest who had previously lived in the presbytery,” Det Insp Fox told the commission on Tuesday.

“Pornography is not illegal but it’s highly unusual that a member of the clergy have this type of material.”

Det Insp Fox said he then spoke to a priest who had been based at Lochinvar, Fr Des Harrigan, who told him Fr Fletcher had given him the magazines and videos and he destroyed them.

A barrister assisting the commission, Julia Lonergan, asked Det Insp Fox: “Were you informed by another person that it was their own pornography?”

“Yes,” Det Insp Fox said.

“And did you believe them?”

“No,” he said.

Det Insp Fox said he never saw the magazines or videos but believed they would have assisted his investigation of Fr Fletcher.

He said he eventually laid more than 60 charges against Fr Fletcher and after a discussion with a representative of the Director of Public Prosecutions office these were reduced to nine more serious offences.

In 2008 Fr Fletcher pleaded not guilty in the district court but a jury found him guilty of all nine charges.

Two appeals against his conviction failed and Fr Fletcher died in jail.

In evidence earlier in the day before commissioner Margaret Cunneen, Det Insp Fox said he suspected Maitland Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone “deliberately” tipped off Fr Fletcher in 2002 about police investigating child sexual abuse allegations against him.

The commission, which was triggered by assertions that the church covered up abuse crimes, is looking at how police and church officials handled sexual abuse allegations involving Fr Fletcher and another Hunter Valley priest, Denis McAlinden.

Det Insp Fox said the mother of one of Fr Fletcher’s victims rang him in a distraught state, saying she was told that Bishop Malone, Fr Harrigan, Monsignor Jim Saunders and Fr Bill Burston were at the meeting when Fr Fletcher was told of the investigation.

In addition, Bishop Malone also told Fr Fletcher the name of the victim, the victim’s mother said.

Det Insp Fox said that when he asked Bishop Malone about why he had gone out to speak to Fr Fletcher, he said was concerned about Fr Fletcher’s welfare and wanted to offer him pastoral care.

“I told him that if he hadn’t told him (Fr Fletcher) that there was a police investigation he wouldn’t be upset,” Det Insp Fox said.

When asked whether he thought Bishop Malone’s actions were a deliberate attempt to interfere with the investigation, Det Insp Fox said “it seemed fairly deliberate” as the warning gave him a chance to get his story together and took away the police investigator’s element of surprise.

The commission continues on Wednesday and is expected to run for two more weeks.

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Clergy member forewarned paedophile priest: Fox

The Maitland Mercury (Australia)

 

By ELLE WATSONACCUSATION: Whistleblower Peter Fox considered charging a senior member of the Catholic clergy who forewarned paedophile priest James Fletcher police were investigating him.

Whistleblower Peter Fox considered charging a senior member of the Catholic clergy who forewarned paedophile priest James Fletcher police were investigating a sexual abuse complaint against him, a Special Commission of Inquiry heard this morning.

The inquiry, that is examining whether the Maitland-Newcastle diocese helped or hindered police investigations, heard Bishop Michael Malone met with Fletcher in 2002 and told him a woman had made a complaint against him.

Detective Chief Inspector Fox said the former Bishop gave the priest the victim’s name.

“I was far from satisfied with what he [Bishop Michael Malone] had told me, I was still contemplating whether he had overstepped the mark and committed an offence,” Inspector Fox told the inquiry.

He said he believed the meeting resulted in the destruction of potential evidence.

Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC is expected to release her findings in September.

6 Responses to “Catholic Church abuse processes ‘deeply flawed'” new inquiry submission” & related articles

  1. Vesna Novakovic says:

    I would like to find out about our parish priest Clifton hill victoria, his name is Mato Krizanac a Croatan priest. He was removed from service and church wont comment.

    • David says:

      You’re an idiot Vesna.

      • Suzanne Herrick-Lee says:

        David, you may have reasons for your comment, but if you are going to bash a poster who has put herself out there with her name and not an anonymous handle, then the basher, you in this case, should fully identify yourself….

  2. Larry Green says:

    The truth… so beautifully articulated… as always Suzanne!

  3. Mauritius Deloitte says:

    I want to know something about Evangelical priest Andreas Zwölfer. Does anyone have some news?!

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