dinsdag, november 24, 2015

# 35 -1

INTRODUCTION 1. This is the 35th case study. It considers the response of the Archdiocese of Melbourne from the mid to late 1980s until 1996, to complaints, concerns and the like about a number of its priests.

 2. Earlier case studies including the recent Case Study 31, which heard from retired Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, have considered the various protocols developed during this time to respond to complaints of criminal behaviour including child sexual abuse. This case study will look, in part, at their implementation.

3. The Royal Commission has selected a number of clergy for consideration in this public hearing. The clergy included are among those against whom the greatest number of complaints have been made. In the case of most of the priests, aspects of their conduct and the response of the Archdiocese of Melbourne have been the subject of inquiry before. The evidence in this case study is expected to extend what is in the public domain in relation to the conduct of the priests and the knowledge and response of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

4. There are eight priests whose conduct and management are the subject of this case study:

 • Nazareno Fasciale
 • Kevin O’Donnell
 • Ronald Pickering
 • Wilfred Baker
 • Peter Searson
• David Daniel
 • Desmond Gannon and
 • Barry Robinson

 2 5. This case study is also concerned with the structure of the Archdiocese at this time and the manner in which that structure facilitated or otherwise, first, the efficient and effective handling of these complaints and secondly the response to the complainants and to those accused. The role of the Archbishop as decision maker is expected to be a feature in the evidence given by Church witnesses. As Bishop Emeritus Connors is expected to say: “There is no doubt that the culture of seniority and authority in the Church did not encourage questioning of the Archbishop.”

 6. If any party with leave is of the view that evidence from a particular witness or a document should be heard or tendered, the process set out in the Practice Guidelines should be followed. That is, I should be approached with a copy of the document or statement (unless for reasons stated, that is impractical), and unless completely irrelevant, it is likely the witness will be called or the document tendered. Any submission ultimately made about a particular witness or document not being in evidence will be considered in light of this Practice Guideline. DATA Data relating to child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Melbourne

7. The Royal Commission has conducted a comprehensive data survey of all Catholic Church authorities in Australia including the Archdiocese of Melbourne. As far as is known, data of this nature has never before been made public.

 3 8. The data relates to claims and substantiated complaints that have been

Child abuse royal commission: Hundreds of sexual abuse claims against Archdiocese of Melbourne

More than 450 people have made sexual abuse claims or substantiated complaints against Archdiocese of Melbourne priests, employees or volunteers since 1980, an inquiry has heard.

Melbourne Archdiocese:

At a public hearing in Melbourne, the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse said it had collected data on the conduct of Catholic priests that has never before been made public.

Senior Counsel Assisting Gail Furness, SC, said the royal commission conducted a survey of all Catholic Church authorities in Australia.

Most of the complaints against the Melbourne Archdiocese were about incidents that were alleged to have happened between 1950 and 1989.

The 1970s produced the highest number of claims.

More than 300 of the claims resulted in compensation payments to victims, with the church paying out nearly $17 million including treatment, legal and other costs, or an average of $52,000 per claimant.

Those accused were overwhelmingly male, with only eight per cent being female.

The commission is holding public hearings in Melbourne for three weeks and will look at allegations levelled against clergy associated with the Holy Family Parish, and the Holy Family Primary school, which are both in Doveton.

It will also investigate the Melbourne Archdiocese's response to allegations against Catholic clergy including Father Wilfred Baker, Father David Daniel, Father Nazareno Fasciale, Father Desmond Gannon , Father Paul Pavlou and Father Ronald Pickering.

Cardinal George Pell has been called to give evidence at hearings.

Royal commission hears Doveton priest taped 'hot confessions'

The commission has heard disturbing details about the "strange" behaviour of Melbourne priest Peter Searson, who was the subject of four substantiated complaints or claims.

Senior Counsel Gail Furness said there were complaints about Mr Searson from the time he was a parish priest in Sunbury in the 1970s until he was parish priest in Doveton in the 1980s.

The complaints included Mr Searson having a handgun at school, showing animal cruelty to children, showing children a body in a coffin, and sexualised conduct with children.

Ms Furness said his behaviour had, at the very least, the potential to harm children.

Priest 'guilty of sex abuse'

A secret Catholic Church report concluded Peter Searson was guilty of child sexual abuse, despite no charges ever being laid against him, Four Corners revealed.

"Having children sit on his knee during confession, having them kneel between his knees during confession, tape recording what he described as hot confessions, cuddling girls, and having girls do handstands in front of him in their dresses," she said.

"There were also complaints that he frequented the boys' toilets in circumstances where staff had access to their own toilets."

She said evidence would be heard the Catholic Education Office and then Arch Bishop Frank Little knew of the complaints, and Mr Searson "usually admitted the fact of allegation, but disavowed any untoward purposes".

"Those admissions were not always recognised as such by church officials," she said.

In 1989, four representatives from the parish school met with Cardinal Pell about Mr Searson's behaviour, and the complaints were passed on by then Bishop Pell to the then Vicar General Monsignor Hilton Deakin, Ms Furness said.

Ms Furness said no serious investigation was undertaken into Mr Searson's behaviour in the 1980s or early 90s, despite a formal warning being issued to Mr Searson in 1993.

He was put in administrative leave in 1997, charged with unlawful assault of an alter boy later that year, and in 1998 he was banned from practising as a priest.

Ex-priest Philip O'Donnell told the inquiry the late former Archbishop Frank Little took no action until he found a "non-scandalous" administrative reason to move Mr Searson to another parish.

"The Archbishop, when given voluminous specific data on matters of scandal that would have damaged the church and the reputation of the church, chose not to act," he said.

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