Showing posts with label child sexual abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label child sexual abuse. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Quote of the Month

“Tony Abbott said to me, ‘You know, I went to a Catholic school as a kid but no one did anything to me. Maybe I wasn’t good-looking enough.’ I’m sat there, like, ‘Is he kidding? Is he making light of this issue?’” [Australian actor Chris Hemsworth quoted in GQ Australia, 4 October 2017]

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Tendered exhibits about child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions investigated by Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) and the Society of St Gerard Majella published by Royal Commission

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, media release:

10 July, 2017

The Royal Commission has published documents relating to Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) and the Society of St Gerard Majella that were tendered during the public hearing into Catholic Church authorities in Australia (Case Study 50).

The public hearing was held in Sydney in February 2017.

The CCI documents relate to investigations conducted by CCI into child sexual abuse claims to establish whether an insured Catholic Church authority had prior knowledge of an alleged perpetrator’s propensity to abuse.

The Royal Commission has published CCI documents relating to 22 alleged perpetrators.

The Society of St Gerard Majella was a Catholic religious institute founded in the 1960s. It was suppressed by the Vatican at the request of the Bishop of Parramatta in 1996, which had the effect of closing down the Society.

Please note that the documents in both exhibits (Exhibit 50-0012 and Exhibit 50-0013) contain redactions of names and identifying information that are subject to directions not to publish.

Visit Case Study 50 and go to exhibits to find the documents.


Friday, 30 June 2017

Update on Australian Cardinal George Pell: charged with mulitiple sexual offences by Victoria Police

Australian Cardinal George Pell, currently living and working in the Vatican, has been charged on summons by Victoria Police with multiple serious historical sexual offences.
 The Australian, 29 June 2017:

No-one with credibility in the church underestimates the damage caused by clergy abuse, a stain that could still be decades from being rubbed out.
This is the broader challenge facing the Catholic hierarchy.
An 18-month or two year court battle, regardless of whether or not it finds in favour of Pell, will mark more lost time as the church tries to deal with the aftermath of the abuse scandal.
This negative publicity will be compounded by the ongoing reporting of the child sex abuse royal commission, which is still to hand down major reports into the Melbourne and Ballarat case studies.
Pell, being the divisive figure that he is and has been, is receiving support from many of his senior peers but the church is also home to many who believe the institution can only move forward when it sees the cardinal’s back.
Perhaps a fairer perspective is to withhold judgment until the evidence is presented to the court.
It’s often been said but it is worth repeating; the least the victims deserve is the truth, which has been in short supply for too long.


Further to Cardinal George Pell’s evidence given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse1.

The Australian, 16 May 2017:
Lawyers representing George Pell have demanded an apology and retraction from Fairfax and The Guardian over articles ­repeating child sexual abuse alle­gations made in a new book ­described by the cardinal as a “character assassination”.

The legal demands were sent to the media outlets at the weekend after a book made a series of allegations against Cardinal Pell over his role in the sex abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church…..

MUP chief executive Louise Adler said the publishing house had received letters from Cardinal Pell’s representatives but no legal action had been threatened.

Crikey, 23 May 2017:

George Pell, both the man and his troubles with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, might be affecting Australia’s representation in the highest council of the Catholic Church, the College of Cardinals — which elects the Pope — given Sydney (and Melbourne) once more missed out in the latest, very eclectic list from Pope Francis.

Seven News, 20 June 2017:

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton told ABC radio Cardinal Pell's lawyers will be told first, once a decision is made whether to charge him.

"A decision is imminent," Mr Ashton told ABC this morning.

"There is a great deal of public interest in it [the George Pell case].

"We'll get something out soon."

It's the third time Mr Ashton has promised an "imminent" decision on the allegations after police got advice from the state's Director of Public Prosecutions on May 16.

On May 18 Mr Ashton said the process wouldn't take too long, and a decision would be reached within a few weeks.

A week later he told 3AW the decision was not too far off.

"The decision is imminent on that," Mr Ashton said on May 25.

On June 1 he described it as "fairly imminent".

The Australian, 24 June 2017:

Those closest to George Pell are increasingly pessimistic about his chances of avoiding charges over historical child sex abuse ­allegations.

The Weekend Australian has been told by multiple sources that — despite his vehement ­denial of wrongdoing — there is a growing resignation that ­charges will almost certainly be laid, plunging the church into what would be an unprecedented scandal.

The Rule Of Law Institute Of Australia Incorporated (a somewhat obscure not-for-profit organisation registered in June 2010) also offered its mite on the subject in The Australian on 25 June 2017:

Victoria Police has been warned not to charge Cardinal George Pell over alleged child sexual abuse to clear the air, or to stage a show trial in response to intense public interest and anger over clerical sex abuse in general.

Lawyer Robin Speed, president of the Rule of Law Institute of Australia said prosecutors should act against Cardinal Pell only if they were fully satisfied about the quality of the evidence.

“They should not act in response to the baying of a section of the mob,’’ he said…..

Mr Speed said that if the cardinal was charged and found innocent the drawn out conduct of the investigation over two years could warrant a judicial inquiry.


1. Cardinal George Pell gave evidence from 29 February 2016 by video link from Rome concerning Case Study 35: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and Case Study 28: Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat. Reports on Case Study 28 (Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat) and Case Study 35 (Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne) are yet to be published. 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse comes to an end after three and a half years of hearings

The long journey was harrowing for the victims, heartbreaking for their families and friends. It shocked and appalled a nation which up to that point had never turned to face the true scale of child sexual abuse within religious and state institutions.

With 57 case studies completed, an est. 5,000 alleged perpetrators revealed in previously reported/unreported claims of child sexual abuse, more than 6,500 victims or their representatives interviewed and 1,950 referrals to authorities (including police), this journey has completed its first stage.

What comes next will depend in some measure on the resolve of ordinary Australians to continue to publicly hold federal and state governments as well as religious administrations to the undertakings they have given to the Royal Commission, to completely eradicate child sexual abuse within their institutions and cease protecting the criminals in their ranks who perpetrate such abuse.

Case Study 57
The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM
Chair, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Today brings the last of our case study hearings to an end. There is an unfinished matter which has been delayed because a trial is listed in April. We will consider the future course of that matter at a directions hearing at a later date.
As I indicated on Monday we have been conducting public hearings since September 2013. The hearings have heard from many survivors and have allowed the intensive scrutiny of the actions of individuals within institutions. We have also looked at how institutions were managed at the time of the abuse and how, once the abuse became known, the institution responded. We have been told by many people that the public hearings have had a profound effect on the community’s understanding of the nature and impact of the sexual abuse of children in Australia. This is primarily due to the courage and determination of the survivors who have given evidence. Although a relatively small number they have given voice to the suffering of the tens of thousands who have been abused in an institutional context in Australia.
There are many people who must be acknowledged for their contribution to our program of public hearings. The starting point for a public hearing is the
work undertaken by the Commission’s legal and investigation teams. They have worked with great dedication, and often under great stress and for long days to bring together witnesses and documents for the hearing. We thank each of them for their efforts on the many case studies. We have also valued the contribution from our policy staff who, of course, have a fundamental role in the preparation of our final report.
The technical expertise required to ensure our hearings are available to the internet has been complex. Without question this process has contributed greatly to the community’s knowledge of the work we have been doing. Going forward I suggest the usual position should be for the live streaming of the hearings of any public inquiry. Our thanks go to the team of technicians and operators who have made this possible.
The Royal Commission has travelled across the entire country to conduct public hearings. This has been a challenging and, at times, complex logistical task. The Commissioners are grateful to the staff who have contributed to the smooth running of our public hearing program.
We owe a special debt to the dedicated team of stenographers who have produced our transcripts. A real time transcript is a valuable tool for a Royal Commission but we appreciate it imposes considerable burdens on those who prepare it. We greatly appreciate their efforts. They have our thanks.
The Commissioners thanks are also due to the many people in institutions who have assisted by producing documents, identifying witnesses, and in almost all cases, participating in our public hearings with the purpose of assisting the Commissioners to understand the story from their institution.
For the care and support that our counselling team and community engagement staff have given to witnesses appearing before the Commission, especially survivors, the Commissioners express our gratitude. Their task has been complex but of fundamental importance to ensure that a survivor’s engagement is both positive, but more importantly, safe. These teams have the admiration of all the Commissioners for the skill and care they give to their task.
We also express today our gratitude to the media for the comprehensive and effective reporting of our work. Television has provided live coverage of the opening of many hearings. I appreciate the limits of column space and the demands of deadlines. But within these limits many media outlets have given prime news or current affairs space to our work. Both the Commissioners and, I am sure, the entire community are grateful for their efforts.
Our thanks also go to all counsel, both those who have assisted the Commission and those who have appeared for survivors and institutions. But above all our thanks are due to Gail Furness. She came to us with the insight gained from an inquiry in the child protection area. She has long ago mastered the inquiry process and the management of a public hearing. But beyond those matters Gail has remarkable abilities of forensic analysis and advocacy. Few people would appreciate the enormous burdens she has carried throughout the hearings. Scrupulously fair, without Gail’s efforts we simply could not have completed our task.
Finally we extend both our recognition and thanks to survivors who gave evidence. Without them our public hearings would be a hollow attempt to tell their story. Without them the realities of child sexual abuse and the extent of institutional failure could not be recognised. Given with difficulty but great courage the telling of each of your personal stories has enabled the Commission and the general community to gain a real understanding of your suffering. It will assist the Royal Commission in the preparation of recommendations in our final report to which we now must turn.

Monday, 13 February 2017

The shocking truth about historic institutional child sexual abuse in Australia

A Child’s Morning Prayer
Lord, I awake and see your light,
For You have kept me through the night,
To You I lift my hands and pray,
Keep me from sin throughout this day,
And if I die before it's done,
Save me through Jesus Christ, Your Son.

A Child’s Night Prayer
Angel of God, my Guardian dear,
to whom His love commits me here,
ever this night be at my side,
to light and guard,
to rule and guide.
Origin unknown

The Commonwealth of Australia Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held its first public hearing in Sydney from Monday 16 to Thursday 19 September 2013. The Royal Commission's first public hearing into the Catholic Church in Australia and child sexual abuse began on Monday, 9 December 2013 and multiple hearings relating to Catholic institutions and specific clergy followed over the next four years. 

Excerpts from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Public Hearing into Catholic Church Authorities, Case Study 50, transcript, 6 February 2017:

1. This is the Royal Commission’s 50th public hearing…..

7. It was plain that hearings were needed to examine the responses of faith-based institutions, given that, as at the end of 2016, 60% of survivors attending a private session reported abuse in those institutions. Of those survivors, nearly two thirds reported abuse in Catholic institutions. While the percentage has varied over time, at present over 37% of all private session attendees reported sexual abuse in a Catholic institution. Consequently Catholic institutions were a key part of the Royal Commission’s public hearings. …….

26. Between January 1980 and February 2015, 4,444 people alleged incidents of child sexual abuse made to 93 Catholic Church authorities. These claims related to over 1000 separate institutions.

27. The claims survey sought information about the people who made claims of child sexual abuse. Where the gender of people making a claim was reported, 78% were male and 22% were female. Of those people who made claims of child sexual abuse received by religious orders with only religious brother members, 97% were male.

28. The average age of people who made claims of child sexual abuse, at the time of the alleged abuse, was 10.5 for girls and 11.6 for boys. The average time between the alleged abuse and the date a claim was made was 33 years.

29. The claims survey sought information about alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse. A total of 1,880 alleged perpetrators were identified in claims of child sexual abuse. Over 500 unknown people were identified as alleged perpetrators. It cannot be determined whether any of those people whose identities are unknown were identified by another claimant in a separate claim.

30. Of the 1,880 identified alleged perpetrators:

a. 597 or 32% were religious brothers
b. 572 or 30% were priests
c. 543 or 29% were lay people
d. 96 or 5% were religious sisters.

31. Of all alleged perpetrators, 90% were male and 10% were female.

32. The Royal Commission surveyed 75 Catholic Church authorities with priest members, including archdioceses, dioceses and religious orders about the number of their members who ministered in Australia between 1 January 1950 and 31 December 2010. Ten Catholic religious orders with religious brother or sister members provided the same information about their members.

33. This information, when analysed in conjunction with the claims data, enabled calculation of the proportion of priests and religious brother and sister members of these Catholic Church authorities who ministered in this period and who were alleged perpetrators.

34. Of priests from the 75 Catholic Church authorities with priest members surveyed, who ministered in Australia between 1950 and 2010, 7.9% of diocesan priests were alleged perpetrators and 5.7% of religious priests were alleged perpetrators. Overall, 7% of priests were alleged perpetrators.

35. The Archdiocese of Adelaide and the Dominican Friars had the lowest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and were alleged perpetrators, at 2.4% and 2.1% respectively.

36. The following five archdioceses or dioceses with priest members which had the highest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:

a. 11.7% of priests from the Diocese of Wollongong were alleged perpetrators
b. 13.9% of priests from the Diocese of Lismore were alleged perpetrators
c. 14.1% of priests from the Diocese of Port Pirie were alleged perpetrators
d. 14.7% of priests from the Diocese of Sandhurst were alleged perpetrators
e. 15.1% of priests from the Diocese of Sale were alleged perpetrators.

37. The following five religious orders with priest members had the highest overall proportion of priests who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:

a. 8.0% of priests from the Vincentians – The Congregation of the Mission were alleged perpetrators
b. 13.7% of priests from the Pallottines – Society of the Catholic Apostolate were alleged perpetrators
d. 17.2% of priests from the Salesians of Don Bosco were alleged perpetrators
e. 21.5% of priests from the Benedictine Community of New Norcia were alleged perpetrators.

38. In relation to religious orders with religious brother and sister members, the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart and the Sisters of Mercy (Brisbane) had the lowest overall proportions of members who were alleged perpetrators, at 0.6% and 0.3% respectively.

39. The following five religious orders with only religious brother members had the highest overall proportion of religious brothers who ministered in the period 1950 to 2010 and who were alleged perpetrators:

a. 13.8% of De La Salle Brothers were alleged perpetrators
b. 20.4% of Marist Brothers were alleged perpetrators
c. 21.9% of Salesians of Don Bosco brothers were alleged perpetrators
d. 22.0% of Christian Brothers were alleged perpetrators
e. 40.4% of St John of God Brothers were alleged perpetrators.
c. 13.9% of priests from the Marist Fathers – Society of Mary were alleged perpetrators, as distinct from the Marist Brothers.

The St. John of God Brothers were established in Australia in the 1940s by eight men, six of whom were believed to be paedophiles. Brothers Kilian Herbert and Laurence Hartley arrived in Sydney from Ireland on 11 August 1947 to head this small group.

Previous North Coast Voices posts on child sexual abuse can be found here., 6 February 2017:

A brief of evidence concerning historical claims of sexual abuse at the hands of Cardinal George Pell has been delivered to prosecutors for consideration.

Victoria Police confirmed with AAP on Monday night that investigators had delivered the brief to the Office of Public Prosecutions.

It's a significant development in the case since three police travelled to Rome in October to speak with the former Ballarat priest and Melbourne archbishop.

Cardinal Pell now resides full-time at the Vatican. He cited ill-health as a reason he could not travel back to Australia to give evidence in last year's royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, appearing instead via video link.

Allegations emerged in 2015 from two men who said they were groped as children by Cardinal Pell when he was a priest in Ballarat during the 1970s.

Another man claimed he saw the priest expose himself to young boys in the late 1980s.

Cardinal Pell previously released a statement rejecting "all and every allegation of sexual abuse" and would continue co-operating with Victoria Police until the investigation was finalised.

The Northern Star, 7 February 2017:

WEDNESDAY 4.30pm: NEARLY 14% of Lismore's most experienced Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children by 2010 but the diocese's spokesman, the Most Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, has reserved comment.

Between 52 and 64 priests have served in the Diocese of Lismore in each decade since 1950, with 129 priests having served in the area by 2010, detailed data presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has shown.

Some 18 of those priests, or 13.9%, have been accused of sexually abusing children throughout their careers, marking Lismore as one of the nation's top five worst dioceses for child sex accusations against the Church.

Too soon to comment: Diocese of Lismore

But Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese Bishop Jarrett, standing in while Bishop-elect Father Gregory Homeming prepares for his ordination, said it was too early to comment publicly on findings.

"My response is that we are in the early days of the Royal Commission's present three week hearing, and until it completes its investigation, it would be premature to comment on the first release of statistics," Bishop Jarrett said via email to The Northern Star.

"We would expect to have a fuller picture and a wider range of issues as time goes on and I will be available for comment at the end of the hearing."

Thursday, 3 November 2016

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: Is Australian Cardinal George Pell about to reluctantly prove that old saying that "You can run but you can't hide"?

Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne George Pell accompanying known paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale to Melbourne Magistrate's Court, 1993

Victorian Police interview Australian Cardinal George Pell who now resides in Italy under the legal protection of the Vatican state……

The Guardian, 26 October 2016:

Victoria Police have travelled to Rome and interviewed Cardinal George Pell about historic allegations of sexual assault.

Three police flew to Italy last week where Cardinal Pell “voluntarily participated in an interview”, a police spokeswoman said in a statement on Wednesday.

As a result of the interview, further investigations are continuing. Police said they could not comment further.

A spokeswoman for Pell confirmed to Guardian Australia that he was interviewed.

“The Cardinal repeats his previous rejection of all and every allegation of sexual abuse and will continue to co-operate with Victoria Police until the investigation is finalised,” she said.
“The Cardinal has no further comment at this time.”

Leonie Sheedy, the chief executive officer of the survivor support group Care Leavers Australasia Network, said the police interview with Pell was “long overdue”.
“It’s about time Australia’s most senior Catholic was interviewed by the police,” she said.

In July, the chief commissioner of Victoria police, Graham Ashton, confirmed allegations against Pell had been referred to the Office of Public Prosecutions for a recommendation as to whether police should drop the investigation, investigate further or lay charges.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has received a submission alleging that Cardinal Pell was not always truthfulful when giving sworn evidence.....

The Australian, 31 October 2016:

The child sex abuse royal commission has been told to reject evidence from Cardinal George Pell, the world’s third most senior Catholic.

In submissions by counsel assisting to case study 35 into the Melbourne Archdiocese, Gail Furness SC and Stephen Free submitted that the commission should reject Cardinal Pell’s evidence that he was intentionally deceived by the Catholic Education Office regarding former priest Peter Searson.

They submitted the CEO should have done much more to respond to the obvious threat posed by Searson, however there was no evidence any of the officer at any time intentionally concealed from the Archdiocese information that it received about Searson.

“Nor is there any evidence, or logical reason, despite the theory advanced by Cardinal Pell, that the CEO or any of its officers wished to keep Searson in Doveton and were resistant to any moves to the contrary,” they said.

“The matters known to Cardinal Pell on his own evidence ... were sufficient that he ought reasonably to have concluded that more serious action needed to be taken in relation to Searson.”

Ms Furness and Mr Free submitted Cardinal Pell’s failure to take action, like other senior officials in the Archdiocese, missed an important opportunity to recognise and deal with the serious risks posed by Searson.

Counsel for Cardinal Pell responded to the submissions by saying he should be treated with the same level of fairness as any other person involved in the matters being considered by the royal commission.

“Notwithstanding Bishop Pell had nowhere near the level of knowledge that Victoria Police had about Searson, CA Submissions seek findings against him which are more critical and extensive than any recommended against Victoria Police,” he submitted.

Searson was accused of sexual misconduct and showing a handgun to children among a series of accusations while a parish priest under effective control of now Cardinal Pell.

The misconduct occurred in the Doveton parish, in Melbourne’s outer south-east, in the 1980s and were dealt with by Cardinal Pell in the years before he became Archbishop of Melbourne.

Herald Sun, 31 October 2016:

CARDINAL George Pell was involved in shuffling paedophile priests between parishes, the child sex abuse royal commission has been told.

In their submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, counsel assisting Gail Furness SC and Stephen Free said that Cardinal Pell had been involved in moving paedophile priests as a consultor to then Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns.

Mulkearns oversaw the movement of several paedophile priests, including the notorious Gerard Ridsdale.

“It follows that the conduct of any consultor who agreed to move Ridsdale, or indeed any priest, with knowledge of allegations of child sexual abuse made against them, is unacceptable,” they said.

While the submissions urge the commission to clear Cardinal Pell of wrongdoing over a string of allegations, they urge some of his evidence be rejected.

In his testimony to the commission in March, Cardinal Pell said he was the victim of a widespread deception, lasting decades, that kept him in the dark about child abuse.

He said in particular allegations of serious violent and sexual misconduct by Doveton priest Peter Searson were hidden from him while an auxiliary bishop.

But the commission has been told there was no evidence that anyone intentionally concealed anything from the Archdiocese.

ABC News, 31 October 2016:

In her submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, Counsel Assisting Gail Furness SC also stated she believed the evidence of a number of witnesses in the Ballarat and Melbourne dioceses instead of Cardinal Pell's in relation to the Cardinal being told by children and adults of inappropriate clerical conduct towards children in the 1970s and 1980s.

Counsel Assisting has found that Cardinal Pell, along with a number of other priestly consultors to Bishop Ronald Mulkearns of the Ballarat diocese, knew notorious serial paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale was being moved from parish to parish because he was sexually abusing children, despite the Cardinal's strong denials.

Ridsdale was moved from parish to parish and allegations about his behaviour were never sent to police.

Excerpts from Submissions Of Counsel Assisting The Royal Commission, Case STUDY 35, THE CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE OF MELBOURNE:

Cardinal George Pell
A Cardinal, who has held the following appointments:
Priest, Ballarat Diocese (1966 – 1985)
Rector, Corpus Christi College, Weribee (1985 – 1987)
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Melbourne (1987 – 1996)
Archbishop of Melbourne (1996 - 2001)
Archbishop of Sydney (2001 – 2014), and
Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy for the Holy See (2014 – present)....
619 It is submitted that the Commission should reject Cardinal Pell’s evidence that officers of the CEO intentionally deceived him and did so for the reasons suggested by Cardinal Pell. Those CEO officers who are available to give evidence about these matters gave evidence to the effect that they had no interest in deceiving Cardinal Pell or in trying to protect Searson. That evidence should be accepted. It is generally consistent with other evidence available to the Royal Commission. As submitted elsewhere, the CEO did not (both before and after 1989) effectively communicate their views that Searson posed a risk to children. The CEO also took an unreasonable attitude to such matters as the need for substantiation of claims and the making of formal complaints. The CEO officers who received information from time to time about Searson, and Monsignor Doyle in his general supervisory role, should have done much more to respond to the obvious threat posed by Searson. However, there is no evidence of the CEO or any of its officers having at any time intentionally concealed from the Archdiocese information that it had received about Searson. Nor is there any evidence, or logical reason, despite the theory advanced by Cardinal Pell, that the CEO or any of its officers wished to keep Searson in Doveton and were resistant to any moves to the contrary. The Royal Commission should find that the CEO officers had no motive to deceive Cardinal Pell and did not do so. 
620 Cardinal Pell was briefed by CEO officials, including Mr Lalor, prior to meeting with the teachers. There is insufficient evidence available to the Royal Commission to make a finding as to the particular information that was conveyed to Cardinal Pell in that briefing. It included at least information that there had been an allegation of sexual misconduct by Searson. 
621 However, given the significant concerns held by the CEO, it is inconceivable that in the briefing to Cardinal Pell, Mr Lalor deliberately held back any relevant information. 
622 The matters known to Cardinal Pell on his own evidence (being the matters on the list of incidents and grievances and the ‘non-specific’ allegation of sexual misconduct) were sufficient that he ought reasonably have concluded that more serious action needed to be taken in relation to Searson. One option was for Searson to be removed or suspended as parish priest. At the very least a thorough investigation needed to be undertaken as to the veracity of the complaints, in particular the allegation of sexual misconduct. It appears that Cardinal Pell concluded that no such action was required because the teachers did not ask for Searson to be removed. That was not a satisfactory response. It was incumbent on Cardinal Pell, having regard to his responsibilities as Auxiliary Bishop, including for the welfare of children in the parish, to take such action as he could to advocate that Searson be removed or suspended, or, at least, that a thorough investigation be undertaken. While the authority to remove Searson from his role as parish priest lay with the Archbishop, Cardinal Pell had direct access to the Archbishop, including through the Curia. It was within his power to investigate the matters further and it was also within his power to urge the Archbishop to take action against Searson. Cardinal Pell’s evidence was that he could not recall recommending a particular course of action to the Archbishop and he conceded that he could have been ‘a bit more pushy’ with all the parties involved. That concession was properly made. Cardinal Pell should also have taken direct action of his own to investigate the veracity of the complaints, in particular the allegation of sexual misconduct. His failure to take any such action meant that Cardinal Pell, like other senior officials in the Archdiocese before and after him, missed an important opportunity to recognise and deal with the serious risks posed by Searson. Cardinal Pell and other senior Archdiocesan officials failed to exercise proper care for the children of Doveton…..

708 It was put to Cardinal Pell that by 1993 it was notorious among priests that Searson was a serious problem and he would have learnt that too, and he said ‘Yes, I knew he was a serious problem.’ He said, however, he did not come to the conclusion that he should not be a priest and he accepted the ‘official position’ that there was not sufficient evidence to remove him.915

709 The allegation that Searson had held a knife to a girl’s chest was admitted by Searson. The incident was known to a number of staff of the CEO, the Vicar General (Monsignor Cudmore), the Archbishop and the Curia. It added to information already known to a number of senior members of the Archdiocese that Searson was a danger to the safety and well-being of children......
115 Cardinal Pell said of the consultors ‘what I am saying is that they had no official role in providing such advice. It was advice that was sought and was given, but it’s quite clear that it’s nothing like a cabinet decision.’129

116 Irrespective of the competencies of the College of Consultors and its predecessor the Diocesan Consultors as set out in the codes of canon law, the evidence of Archbishop Hart and Cardinal Pell was that they had the capacity to advise the Archbishop in relation to the placement of priests. Whether or not that was an official capacity, as Cardinal Pell said, advice was sought and it was given.

Cardinal George Pell's response:

Submissions of Cardinal Pell

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Faith-based institutions involved in 62 per cent of sexual abuse allegations reported to Royal Commission in private session


The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM
Chair, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

It is now almost three years since the Commission held it first public hearing. In that time we have been able to complete the hearings and provide reports to the Governor-General and Governors in 26 case studies. Twenty two of those reports have been publicly released and four await publication by government. A further 13 case studies have been conducted and are at various stages of completion. Reports in those case studies will be provided to government in due course.

I have previously indicated that it is not possible for the Royal Commission to conduct a public hearing in relation to every institution about which we have received allegations of the sexual abuse of children. The Commission has received information about over 4,000 institutions. Because of the impossibility of conducting a public hearing in relation to each of these institutions we have carefully selected the institutions we have publicly investigated with a view to providing the government, the institutions and the public with an understanding of the nature of the problems which we have identified. The case studies have been selected to ensure an appropriate geographical spread and also an appropriate reflection of the type of institution where survivors were abused.

A breakdown of the institutions examined in our public hearings reveals the following. 29 case studies have examined at least one state institution (70% of all case studies). In 11 case studies state institutions were examined as a primary institution. Faith based institutions have been examined in 26 of our case studies (63% of all case studies). Catholic institutions have been examined in 14 case studies (34% of all case studies) and Anglican institutions have been examined in 5 case studies (12% of all case studies).

Today we commence a further hearing in relation to issues in the Catholic Church in NSW. This will be our last hearing dealing with Catholic institutions apart from the final review hearing which will occur next year.

As you will be aware the Commission is closing registrations for private sessions on 30 September this year. The Commissioners have now met with survivors in 5,866 private sessions and a further 1,616 people have been approved for a private session. We expect that by the time the Commission completes its work at the end of next year we will have held more than 7,200 private sessions.

The current breakdown of institutions in which survivors in private sessions state that they have been abused is as follows. 62% of attendees reported abuse in a faith-based institution. Around 27% reported abuse at government-run institutions. Abuse in Catholic institutions was reported by 40% of all private session attendees, abuse in Anglican institutions by 8% of attendees and abuse in Salvation Army institutions by 4% of attendees.

Apart from our work in public hearings and private sessions we have commissioned research across a broad range of issues relevant to the sexual abuse of children in an institutional context. The primary focus of our research has been to identify and document the changes that should be made to the way institutions are structured and governed to ensure so far as possible that children are not abused in the future. As required by our terms of reference we have also been concerned to ensure that the need for a redress response has been considered together with the response of the civil and criminal justice systems to allegations of the abuse of children. We have already published 27 research reports and a further 34 will be published in the near future. Apart from providing a valuable resource for the Commission these reports will be an authoritative source for other research and policy work long after the Commission has completed its final report.

I have previously mentioned that the Commission has worked co-operatively with police. Section 6P of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 authorises a Royal Commission to provide information to the police with respect to possible criminal offences. The Royal Commission has now referred 1,659 matters to police to consider for further investigation with a view to prosecution. Because of the volume of references the resources of the various police forces have been placed under significant pressure. Although I understand a great many references are awaiting investigation. So far prosecutions have been brought against 71 people.

After the present case study has been completed the Commission will turn its attention in a public hearing to harmful sexual behaviours of children within schools. There may be a limited number of future case studies. These will be followed by a series of review hearings in relation to various institutions and selected topics. I anticipate that our final hearing which has been given the working title ‘Nature, Cause and Impact of Child Sexual Abuse’ will focus amongst other matters on the ‘why’ question, and will take place in March 2017.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Turnbull Government is just not listening to those who have experienced the immigration detention camps first-hand

The Guardian, 18 August 2016:

The Guardian can reveal that the offices of senior members of the Australian government – including prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, attorney general George Brandis and Dutton – all received an extensive dossier in May 2016 that outlined the ongoing harm to children held on Nauru and the “numerous child rights violations” that had occurred.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Australian child sexual abuse royal commission choosing its words carefully

Statement on immigration detention centres
15 August, 2016

The Royal Commission does not ordinarily comment upon operational matters. However, because of the level of public discussion in relation to immigration detention centres the Commission indicates the following.

The Royal Commission has an ongoing investigation in relation to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse in detention centres. Whether or not a public hearing is warranted has not been determined.

The Royal Commission is conscious that a Child Protection Panel was established by the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in May 2015. The Panel’s terms of reference indicate that ‘a final report will be provided to the Secretary by mid-2016 covering both better practice and a comprehensive sample of reviews.’ The Royal Commission anticipates that the report will deal with the Department’s response to, among other matters, allegations of child abuse in detention centres. The Royal Commission will have regard to that report in the course of its investigation into immigration detention issues.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Cardinal George Pell protests his innocence from his bunker in Rome

27 July 2016

Cardinal Pell repeats what he told the ABC 730 Report before the broadcast, he refutes all the allegations made on the program.

The ABC has no licence to destroy the reputation of innocent people and Cardinal Pell, like all those who have allegations against them that have not been tested by the Courts, is entitled to the presumption of innocence - not immediate condemnation. He is entitled to a fair go.

While the Cardinal in no way wishes to cause any harm to those making allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse against him, the simple fact is that they are wrong.

"I bear no ill will and have no desire to cause them harm but what they say about me is not true." Cardinal Pell said.

Nearly six months ago media outlets carried leaked stories of allegations against the Cardinal which were said to have been under investigation by the Victorian SANO Taskforce for over 12 months. Despite this there has been no requests made by the Taskforce to interview the Cardinal and the Victorian Police Commissioner confirmed last month that no request to interview the Cardinal had been proposed to him as necessary.

It seems there has been leaking of information and allegations by elements of the Victorian Police to the ABC. This is consistent with previous patterns of improper and illegal disclosure of information from such sources to a variety of media outlets. Such information has in the past repeatedly been demonstrated to be inaccurate and unfounded.

In a context where police themselves have suggested, accurately or otherwise, that the making of charges is under review by relevant authorities, these disclosures and consequent publicity by the ABC clearly are apt and calculated deliberately to influence and compromise relevant judicial and prosecutorial processes.

The Cardinal calls for an investigation to assess whether any actions of elements of the Victoria Police and the ABC program amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The Cardinal has cooperated in the past and will continue to co-operate through the proper and appropriate civil authorities.

He will not participate in trial by the ABC and other media outlets. "I have done nothing wrong." Cardinal Pell said.



ABC News statement on last night’s 7.30

28TH JULY 2016

Victoria Police was not the source of the ABC 7.30 story. Nor did witnesses approach the ABC. The report was the result of our own on-the-ground journalism over the course of months, which included finding people who would be willing to talk to us on camera.

There is a clear public interest case for reporting on this matter. Cardinal George Pell is a significant public figure, a senior figure in the Catholic Church, and he also has had direct responsibility for the Church’s response on the issue of child sex abuse.

Excerpt from the transcript of ABC 7.30 program aired on 28 July 2016:

STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF CARDINAL GEORGE PEOPLE (male voiceover): "The cardinal calls for an investigation to assess whether any actions of elements of the Victoria Police and the ABC program amount to a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice."

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Neither Taskforce Sano nor anyone else at Victoria Police leaked this story to 7.30. All of the statements we gathered were given to us by the people who made them. This morning, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton rejected the Cardinal's claims.

GRAHAM ASHTON, CHIEF COMMISSIONER, VICTORIA POLICE: My response to that is that we haven't provided the ABC with materials. Anyone who saw that show last night on the ABC, which I did look at, it's clear it's - the source of that information is from the victims. You could see the emotions in their voices and see it in them last night, they're highly traumatised from what they are saying has happened to them and they're talking to the media about that.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: The Chief Commissioner confirmed that the Pell file was still with the Office of Public Prosecutions and that it included all of the matters raised by 7.30 last night.

RADIO 3AW COMPERE: So they cover a long period of time?

GRAHAM ASHTON: Oh, yeah, a long period of time, yes.

RADIO 3AW COMPERE: So there are multiple allegations over a long period of time?


LOUISE MILLIGAN: Mr Ashton says Victoria Police is still awaiting the OPP's advice.

GRAHAM ASHTON: It's been a long investigation on - in these issues. They take a long time to investigate. A lot of leads have got to be followed up and it'll understandably take time for OPP to do a decent assessment on that, so, they haven't given us a timeframe, which they'll come back and - we tend to not pressure them for that.

RADIO 3AW COMPERE: So does that mean the position we're in at the moment, charges are still a possibility?

GRAHAM ASHTON: Oh, anything's a possibility at this stage.

Excerpt from the transcript of ABC 7.30 program aired on 27 July 2016:

LOUISE MILLIGAN: George Pell left the Ballarat Diocese for Melbourne in 1984. He then spent his summers at Torquay Beach, where he was a member of the local surf club. Local dad Les Tyack's kids were keen surfers and Mr Tyack used to see George Pell around the club. One summer day, he says he witnessed a strange incident, so strange it later compelled him to go to police. He says he walked into the club change rooms and found George Pell and three boys he estimates were aged between eight and 10.

LES TYACK, TORQUAY RESIDENT: I said, "Hi, George." And at that time he was towelling - had the towel going across his shoulders drying his back. But he was facing three young boys only about three or four metres across from him. And I thought it was a little strange, but I put my gear down on the bench and walked into the showers. I was in the showers for probably five to 10 minutes and when I came out, the boys had got dressed, but Pell just had the towel over his right shoulder, still facing the boys. And the boys were looking at him. There was no communication between them, but Pell was looking at the boys, they were looking at him. I immediately thought, "This is not right. There is something amiss here."

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Les Tyack says he was disturbed that a naked man had stood there for 10 minutes facing the boys.

LES TYACK: I thought that was not on. Very strange situation for an adult to be full frontal to three young boys. I said to the young boys, "Finish doing what you're doing, off you go." When they left, I then said to George Pell, "I know what you're up to. Piss off. Get out of here. If I see you back in this club again, I'll call the police."

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Mr Tyack says the way George Pell's torso was angled during the incident also raised alarm bells.

LES TYACK: It makes me very suspicious that he was exposing himself to those three young boys. He made sure that at no time was I given the opportunity to see the front of him.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: And you thought that was suspicious?

LES TYACK: Very suspicious. Very suspicious. Because when I challenged him, he made no response to me at all, which I thought quite odd. I'm certain that if I'd been challenged in such a manner, I certainly would have fired up with questioning. What do you mean? What are you talking about? But no, Pell went very silent, didn't say a word.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: When the royal commission was sitting last year, Les Tyack decided to make his statement to Victoria Police.

LES TYACK: There may have been other incidents out there in the public domain that people had seen or witnessed and so I decided to report it so that those collating all the evidence could put it aside there and it might help form a dossier on Pell's activities.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Cardinal Pell did not specifically address the allegations made by Les Tyack, but says more generally that, "No request has been made to interview Cardinal Pell, nor has he received any details of these claims from the police or anyone. In late May, the Cardinal was advised by the SANO Taskforce that there had been no change in the status of the investigation," since a newspaper reported in February that an investigation was taking place.

Cardinal Pell makes the point that he has apologised to victims of abuse of other priests on behalf of the Church many times and has met with many victims personally.