“Predator priest’s conduct ‘horrific'” & related articles

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ninemsn.com.au

6:38pm September 25, 2013

Father Denis McAlinden was a predator involved in horrific conduct, a lawyer for the Catholic Church has told an abuse inquiry.

 

But not all of the 30 times the pedophile priest was moved to new parishes around the country could be linked to his sexual abuse, lawyer Lachlan Gyles said.

“There were a large number of moves where no reason was known,” said Mr Gyles who’s representing the Maitland/Newcastle Catholic diocese.

But the lawyer assisting the commission, Julia Lonergan, fired back “Some moves related to sexual abuse.”

During a heated exchange, Mr Gyles replied “And there were a large number unexplained.”

The inquiry before commissioner Margaret Cunneen is investigating the way church leaders and police handled child sexual abuse allegations against Hunter Valley priests Fr McAlinden and James Fletcher.

“We all accept he (McAlinden) was a predator involved in horrific conduct,” Mr Gyles said during the final day of submissions in the Newcastle Supreme Court on Wednesday.

During his summing up, Mr Gyles said cultural issues within the church hadn’t prevented its leaders from reporting pedophile priests or suspected child sexual abuse by clergy.

“It was not a cultural disinclination to report,” he said.

“It was coming to terms (with the fact) that people were capable of doing the things that they were alleged to have done.”

Fr McAlinden, who died in 2005 of cancer in a West Australian Catholic home, is understood to have abused hundreds of Hunter Valley children over about 40 years.

Fr Fletcher died in jail in 2006 while serving a sentence for sexually assaulting an altar boy.

The inquiry was sparked by NSW detective chief inspector Peter Fox alleging a cover-up by church officials that was aided by a “Catholic mafia” within the police force.

But Mr Gyles said church leaders were just as repulsed by child sexual abuse as other people in the community and were doing all they could to see that offences of the past were not repeated.

He also pointed out that child abuse extended to scout organisation, other religions and even foster parents.

Understanding of the issue was very different from the 1960s to the 1990s, compared to today when there is greater public awareness and better processes in place within the church to deal with it, he added.

Up until the 1990s, another major factor was that victims wanted church leaders rather than police to deal with their matters, Mr Gyles said.

Ms Cunneen has overseen more than two months of public hearings and more than 100 private hearings.

She is scheduled to report to the state government by February 28 next year.

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Priest’s abuse ‘known’

The Maitland Mercury

25 September 2013

A man who was abused by a Hunter Valley priest as a child says he wants to know why it remained a secret “when so many people knew”.

Peter Gogarty fronted a special NSW commission of inquiry ­yesterday into how Catholic church officials and police ­handled child sex abuse allegations involving priests James Fletcher and Denis McAlinden.

During Mr Gogarty’s 15 minute submission, there were tears and some applause in the public gallery.

As a result of his experiences and through discussions with other victims, he said two ­questions commonly arose: “What would my life have been if I had never met him and why was there so much secrecy when so many people knew?”.

Mr Gogarty said child abuse was amplified when perpetrated by priests because they had betrayed the trust in which they were held.

The horror of it remained a ­significant part of many of the ­victims’ lives and lay behind some their suicides, he told commissioner Margaret Cunneen  in the Newcastle Supreme Court.

The inquiry was prompted by whistleblower policeman, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, alleging church officials covered up paedophile crimes and were aided by a “Catholic mafia” within the police force.

Mr Gogarty commended the police he came into contact with after making a complaint about Fletcher’s abuse for showing him patience and respect.

He also recognised the efforts of former Maitland/Newcastle Catholic Bishop Michael Malone and other diocesan staff for efforts they had made in recent years to address the problem and support victims.

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Priests aware of abuse claims: NSW inquiry

aap

24 September 2013

At least five senior Catholic priests were well aware of sexual abuse allegations against serial Hunter Valley paedophile priest Denis McAlinden years before a church official notified police, a special commission of inquiry has heard.

Speaking on behalf of McAlinden victims, Barrister Maria Gerace said former Maitland/Newcastle diocese bishops Leo Clarke and Michael Malone; former vicar generals Bill Burston and Allan Hart; and Fr Brian Lucas, a church law expert who had investigated more than 30 cases of alleged child sexual abuse by NSW Catholic priests all knew about the allegations.

Ms Gerace was addressing commissioner Margaret Cunneen in Newcastle Supreme Court on the second last day of public hearings into how police and church leaders handled child sexual abuse allegations involving two Hunter priests, Fr McAlinden and James Fletcher.

A church official notified police in 1999 of some allegations against Fr McAlinden, but as his whereabouts were allegedly unknown by church leaders he was then not spoken to by police until 2005, shortly before he died of cancer in a West Australian Catholic home.

Bishop Clarke retired in 1995 and died in 2006. Fr Fletcher died in jail in 2006 while serving a term for sexually abusing a former altar boy.

Ms Gerace said documents in church archives, tendered to the inquiry during eight weeks of public sittings that ended early last month, showed that Fr McAlinden had been a sexual offender since the late 1950s.

All five senior priests were involved in confidential attempts to have Fr McAlinden leave the priesthood.

Ms Gerace said that by not notifying police, the five priests were in conflict with Maitland/Newcastle diocese policy, which was published in a 1992 media release stating priests who sexually offended, or were suspected of offending, would be automatically stood down and allegations would be referred to police.

Ms Gerace said it was not right for church officials to claim they did not report McAlinden matters to police as victims did not want them reported.

She said victims she represented complained to church leaders under the belief they would take action to stop Fr McAlinden reoffending and were never told of any difficulties church officials had trying to stop him.

Barrister Simon Harben said his client Bishop Malone took over from Bishop Clarke without appropriate training and was involved in “enormous endeavours to deal with McAlinden”.

While Bishop Malone regretted some things he had done in handling child sexual abuse allegations involving priests his position changed to be with the victims and ultimately he did a lot to improve the diocese’s child protection procedures, Mr Harben said.

Barrister Peter Skinner said no adverse finding could be made against Fr Lucas whose role was to put in place Bishop Clarke’s decision to persuade Fr McAlinden to leave the priesthood.

The commission continues on Wednesday.

___________________________

Church overlooked paedophile priest to avoid scandal: inquiry told

THE Maitland-Newcastle Diocese “simply overlooked” 25 years of paedophile priest Denis McAlinden’s offending “in the interest of avoiding some scandal”, the Special Commission of Inquiry has been told.

Barrister for Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox, Mark Cohen, told the inquiry on Tuesday morning McAlinden had been moved around almost constantly from diocese to diocese, and to PNG and New Zealand, from 1969 to the 1990s to ensure he was “kept out of the way”.

By December 1971 it was observed McAlinden had left PNG because he was “very rough with the native people”.

By May 1976, McAlinden had been “run out of town again”from Forster-Tuncurry “by angry parents”, Mr Cohen said.

And by 1987 “there were so many complaints swirling” about McAlinden that there must have been an understanding within the diocese of what was going on.

“Such matters of such gravity must have got back to the Diocese even if it hasn’t been recorded in a formal way,” Mr Cohen said.

But the process of trying to force McAlinden out of the ministry didn’t start until 1993, when two victims lodged complaints.

Mr Cohen told Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC she was entitled to conclude the diocese at the very least “engaged in benign neglect”, but that really “it was wilful blindness” to McAlinden’s abusing.

Barrister for Bishop Michael Malone, Simon Harben SC, urged Ms Cunneen not to make any adverse findings against his client.

Bishop Malone had taken over from Bishop Leo Clarke, and continued the “proper process” already under way of trying to force McAlinden out, in accordance with the wishes of the two victims, Mr Harben said.

But Bishop Malone had never denied responsibility for his role in the church’s response to McAlinden, and in hindsight may have acted differently, he said.

The inquiry is continuing.

________________________________

Irish warned abuser priest Denis McAlinden was ‘difficult’ – See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/irish-warned-abuser-priest-difficult/story-fngburq5-1226724747499#sthash.2tOcQFs2.dpuf

Irish warned abuser priest Denis McAlinden was ‘difficult’

The Australian

23 September 2013

Dan Box

ONE of Australia’s worst pedophile priests was brought from Ireland at the request of his former Catholic order, which warned he was difficult, bad-tempered and should be kept away from other people.

Documents tendered to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church child abuse, which begins hearing closing submissions today, also reveal Denis McAlinden went on to commit dozens of sexual crimes against adults and children over several decades.

In 1949, the then Redemptorist provincial in Limerick, John Treacy, wrote to the Bishop of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley asking if “there be any possibility of taking one of our students”.

“You will very justly say then: ‘What is wrong with him, so why do you not wish to retain him? Well, his difficulty is community life . . . he is a bit hard to get on with in ordinary life. His temper is difficult,” the letter states.

While he did not specifically mention sexual crimes, the late Father Treacy recommended McAlinden “for the secular priesthood, in which he will have to live in that close association (as) we have to live with one another”.

A subsequent letter, thanking the Australian bishop for taking on McAlinden, describes the priest: “Poor fellow, he has wonderful qualities in many ways, but living in close community is not one of them.”

McAlinden was appointed assistant priest at a parish in the NSW Hunter Valley in 1953, the documents show.

Later that year, he repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl who was a member of the local church.

The commission has heard that successive bishops of Maitland, as well as other senior Catholic officials, knew McAlinden was abusing children, but this information was not passed to police at the time.

In another previously unseen letter, from 1958, the Bishop of Maitland wrote to the papal representative in Australia saying that he could not recommend McAlinden for missionary work in Africa “for reasons which I prefer not to state”.

Instead, the priest was able to move between different parishes, states and countries, abusing children in NSW, Western Australia and New Zealand, the commission heard, as well as spending several years in The Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

In 2009, the then bishop Michael Malone wrote to the Archbishop of Mount Hagen in PNG about McAlinden, saying: “I have discovered he was a sexual predator preying on young girls mainly.

“There are numerous people coming forward here claiming to have been abused by him . . . There is every chance that he may have offended in your diocese also.”

A current employee of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Maureen O’Hearn, told the commission she had spoken to 28 of McAlinden’s victims, abused between 1949 and 1987. The Australian understands the true number may be far higher.

McAlinden died in 2005 without being charged by NSW Police. Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC is expected to report by February next year.

ONE of Australia’s worst pedophile priests was brought from Ireland at the request of his former Catholic order, which warned he was difficult, bad-tempered and should be kept away from other people.

Documents tendered to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church child abuse, which begins hearing closing submissions today, also reveal Denis McAlinden went on to commit dozens of sexual crimes against adults and children over several decades.

In 1949, the then Redemptorist provincial in Limerick, John Treacy, wrote to the Bishop of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley asking if “there be any possibility of taking one of our students”.

“You will very justly say then: ‘What is wrong with him, so why do you not wish to retain him? Well, his difficulty is community life . . . he is a bit hard to get on with in ordinary life. His temper is difficult,” the letter states.

While he did not specifically mention sexual crimes, the late Father Treacy recommended McAlinden “for the secular priesthood, in which he will have to live in that close association (as) we have to live with one another”.

A subsequent letter, thanking the Australian bishop for taking on McAlinden, describes the priest: “Poor fellow, he has wonderful qualities in many ways, but living in close community is not one of them.”

McAlinden was appointed assistant priest at a parish in the NSW Hunter Valley in 1953, the documents show.

Later that year, he repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl who was a member of the local church.

The commission has heard that successive bishops of Maitland, as well as other senior Catholic officials, knew McAlinden was abusing children, but this information was not passed to police at the time.

In another previously unseen letter, from 1958, the Bishop of Maitland wrote to the papal representative in Australia saying that he could not recommend McAlinden for missionary work in Africa “for reasons which I prefer not to state”.

Instead, the priest was able to move between different parishes, states and countries, abusing children in NSW, Western Australia and New Zealand, the commission heard, as well as spending several years in The Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

In 2009, the then bishop Michael Malone wrote to the Archbishop of Mount Hagen in PNG about McAlinden, saying: “I have discovered he was a sexual predator preying on young girls mainly.

“There are numerous people coming forward here claiming to have been abused by him . . . There is every chance that he may have offended in your diocese also.”

A current employee of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Maureen O’Hearn, told the commission she had spoken to 28 of McAlinden’s victims, abused between 1949 and 1987. The Australian understands the true number may be far higher.

McAlinden died in 2005 without being charged by NSW Police. Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC is expected to report by February next year.

– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/irish-warned-abuser-priest-difficult/story-fngburq5-1226724747499#sthash.2tOcQFs2.dpuf

Irish warned abuser priest Denis McAlinden was ‘difficult’

ONE of Australia’s worst pedophile priests was brought from Ireland at the request of his former Catholic order, which warned he was difficult, bad-tempered and should be kept away from other people.

Documents tendered to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church child abuse, which begins hearing closing submissions today, also reveal Denis McAlinden went on to commit dozens of sexual crimes against adults and children over several decades.

In 1949, the then Redemptorist provincial in Limerick, John Treacy, wrote to the Bishop of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley asking if “there be any possibility of taking one of our students”.

“You will very justly say then: ‘What is wrong with him, so why do you not wish to retain him? Well, his difficulty is community life . . . he is a bit hard to get on with in ordinary life. His temper is difficult,” the letter states.

While he did not specifically mention sexual crimes, the late Father Treacy recommended McAlinden “for the secular priesthood, in which he will have to live in that close association (as) we have to live with one another”.

A subsequent letter, thanking the Australian bishop for taking on McAlinden, describes the priest: “Poor fellow, he has wonderful qualities in many ways, but living in close community is not one of them.”

McAlinden was appointed assistant priest at a parish in the NSW Hunter Valley in 1953, the documents show.

Later that year, he repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl who was a member of the local church.

The commission has heard that successive bishops of Maitland, as well as other senior Catholic officials, knew McAlinden was abusing children, but this information was not passed to police at the time.

In another previously unseen letter, from 1958, the Bishop of Maitland wrote to the papal representative in Australia saying that he could not recommend McAlinden for missionary work in Africa “for reasons which I prefer not to state”.

Instead, the priest was able to move between different parishes, states and countries, abusing children in NSW, Western Australia and New Zealand, the commission heard, as well as spending several years in The Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

In 2009, the then bishop Michael Malone wrote to the Archbishop of Mount Hagen in PNG about McAlinden, saying: “I have discovered he was a sexual predator preying on young girls mainly.

“There are numerous people coming forward here claiming to have been abused by him . . . There is every chance that he may have offended in your diocese also.”

A current employee of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Maureen O’Hearn, told the commission she had spoken to 28 of McAlinden’s victims, abused between 1949 and 1987. The Australian understands the true number may be far higher.

McAlinden died in 2005 without being charged by NSW Police. Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC is expected to report by February next year.

– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/irish-warned-abuser-priest-difficult/story-fngburq5-1226724747499#sthash.2tOcQFs2.dpuf

Irish warned abuser priest Denis McAlinden was ‘difficult’

ONE of Australia’s worst pedophile priests was brought from Ireland at the request of his former Catholic order, which warned he was difficult, bad-tempered and should be kept away from other people.

Documents tendered to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church child abuse, which begins hearing closing submissions today, also reveal Denis McAlinden went on to commit dozens of sexual crimes against adults and children over several decades.

In 1949, the then Redemptorist provincial in Limerick, John Treacy, wrote to the Bishop of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley asking if “there be any possibility of taking one of our students”.

“You will very justly say then: ‘What is wrong with him, so why do you not wish to retain him? Well, his difficulty is community life . . . he is a bit hard to get on with in ordinary life. His temper is difficult,” the letter states.

While he did not specifically mention sexual crimes, the late Father Treacy recommended McAlinden “for the secular priesthood, in which he will have to live in that close association (as) we have to live with one another”.

A subsequent letter, thanking the Australian bishop for taking on McAlinden, describes the priest: “Poor fellow, he has wonderful qualities in many ways, but living in close community is not one of them.”

McAlinden was appointed assistant priest at a parish in the NSW Hunter Valley in 1953, the documents show.

Later that year, he repeatedly raped an 11-year-old girl who was a member of the local church.

The commission has heard that successive bishops of Maitland, as well as other senior Catholic officials, knew McAlinden was abusing children, but this information was not passed to police at the time.

In another previously unseen letter, from 1958, the Bishop of Maitland wrote to the papal representative in Australia saying that he could not recommend McAlinden for missionary work in Africa “for reasons which I prefer not to state”.

Instead, the priest was able to move between different parishes, states and countries, abusing children in NSW, Western Australia and New Zealand, the commission heard, as well as spending several years in The Philippines and Papua New Guinea.

In 2009, the then bishop Michael Malone wrote to the Archbishop of Mount Hagen in PNG about McAlinden, saying: “I have discovered he was a sexual predator preying on young girls mainly.

“There are numerous people coming forward here claiming to have been abused by him . . . There is every chance that he may have offended in your diocese also.”

A current employee of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Maureen O’Hearn, told the commission she had spoken to 28 of McAlinden’s victims, abused between 1949 and 1987. The Australian understands the true number may be far higher.

McAlinden died in 2005 without being charged by NSW Police. Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC is expected to report by February next year.

– See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/irish-warned-abuser-priest-difficult/story-fngburq5-1226724747499#sthash.2tOcQFs2.dpuf

1 Response to “Predator priest’s conduct ‘horrific'” & related articles

  1. Sylvia says:

    “In 1949, the then Redemptorist provincial in Limerick, John Treacy, wrote to the Bishop of Maitland in the NSW Hunter Valley asking if ‘there be any possibility of taking one of our students.’

    “’You will very justly say then: “What is wrong with him, so why do you not wish to retain him? Well, his difficulty is community life . . . he is a bit hard to get on with in ordinary life. His temper is difficult,’ the letter states.”

    Why, I can’t help but wonder, were arrangements not made to have him taken in by diocese in Ireland?

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