vrijdag, december 08, 2017

Report into Anglican Diocese of Newcastle released

7 - 12 - 2017

A redacted version of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s report into Case Study 42 - The responses of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle to instances and allegations of child sexual abuse was released.
The report follows a public hearing held in August 2016 in Newcastle and in November 2016 in Sydney. The hearing inquired into the experiences of survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and lay people involved in or associated with the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.
The Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference require that the work of the Royal Commission not prejudice current or future criminal or civil proceedings. For this reason, Commissioners recommended that at this time a redacted version of the report be tabled and published. It is expected that an unredacted version of the report will be tabled and published at a later date.

Failure of leadership

The report found Newcastle diocese Bishops Alfred Holland and Roger Herft showed a distinct lack of leadership, and alleged perpetrators were not called to account.
There was a “do nothing” approach in the diocese in response to child sexual abuse allegations during Bishop Holland’s episcopate between 1978 and 1992. The failure of Bishop Holland to act in the face of allegations made to him represented a lost opportunity to prevent further abuse being perpetrated by Father Peter Rushton and Father James Brown, the report found.
Father Rushton died in 2007 and was never charged with any child sexual abuse offences, although the diocese acknowledges that he was a child sex offender. In 2011 Father Brown pleaded guilty to 27 charges of child sexual abuse relating to 19 male victims and was convicted and sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in jail.
Bishop Herft’s response to allegations of child sexual abuse was weak and ineffectual and showed no regard for the need to protect children during his episcopate from 1993 to 2005, the report found. The way in which the diocese handled allegations of child sexual abuse shows there was a large gap between the diocese’s policies and its practices.
Commissioners found that where an alleged perpetrator had moved to another diocese, that diocese was generally not warned of the allegations. Bishop Herft’s inaction with respect to Father Rushton contributed to the systematic failure of the diocese to make perpetrators accountable for their conduct. Compassion and pastoral care was often not shown to survivors under the leadership of these two bishops, the report found.
However, in exposing the allegations, later Newcastle Bishops Brian Farran and Gregory Thompson, took appropriate responses against alleged perpetrators and provided survivors with pastoral care. They faced a considerable backlash over their actions.

Conflicts of interest

The report found the diocese did not address conflicts of interest. There was a lack of awareness of, or policies on, avoiding conflicts of interest in responding to child sexual abuse matters. The report found that conflicts of interests often involved lawyers who held positions in the diocese and acted as legal representatives for those charged with child sex offences.
When Father George Parker was charged in 2000 with child sexual abuse, a member of the diocesan and friend of Father Parker, Keith Allen acted as his solicitor. Mr Allen then retained Paul Rosser QC as Father Parker’s barrister. Mr Rosser was at the time also the diocesan deputy chancellor.
Mr Rosser QC accepted instructions to appear for Father Parker at the criminal prosecution for offences against survivor CKA and his brother. Despite Mr Rosser QC’s submission to the contrary, the Commissioners found there was clear conflict of interest between his duty to the diocese and his duty to his client, Father Parker.
In his capacity as deputy chancellor, Mr Rosser was involved in sending a message to CKA that the diocese would help him. In his capacity as Father Parker’s legal representative, he was involved in undermining CKA’s allegations.
The report also finds that Mr Allen did not consider whether it was appropriate to act for Father Parker in a criminal prosecution given the various governance roles he held in the diocese at the time.

Systemic issues

The cumulative effect of a number of systemic issues allowed a group of perpetrators to operate within the diocese for at least 30 years.
The report found that systemic issues included a focus on protecting the reputation of the Church and its powerful and influential member. Abusive and predatory sexual relationships were misrepresented as consensual homosexual relationships.
Before 2007 those who reported allegations of child sexual abuse to senior clergy were treated as if they had fabricated the allegations and were sometimes threatened with legal action. Father Peter Rushton often threatened alleged victims or their families with legal action after hearing allegations of child sexual abuse made against him.
There was a lack of turnover of positions of governance leading to entrenched positions, conflicts of interest and a narrowed pool of expertise. There was a permissive and timid leadership by successive bishops.
The report found that allegations of child sexual abuse were not consistently or regularly reported to police and recordkeeping about complaints was inadequate. There was also a practise of minimising the nature and impact of the offending and an over-reliance on the perceived honesty of alleged perpetrators when confronted with allegations.
Read the report.

Abuse victims:Perth archbishop Roger Herft should face charges

 “Concealing child abuse by priests is a crime in NSW and Victoria.”
A retired police officer has alleged decades of documents have been destroyed or gone missing from a New South Wales Anglican boys' home, which is expected to be the focus of an upcoming royal commission.
The St Albans boys' home is expected to be part of a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse case study looking at abuse allegations in Newcastle's Anglican diocese.
The lack of documentation has raised alarm bells with retired 20-year police veteran Greg Harding.*
Mr Harding pursued convicted paedophile and ex-St Albans board member James Michael Brown, who abused 20 boys.
Brown is currently serving a minimum 12-year jail sentence.
Speaking for publicly for the first time, Mr Harding told the ABC his investigations showed decades of documents were either missing or destroyed.
"I found it very unusual that in any day and age there were no records pertaining to a boys' home with how it operated, who went there, and the details of what occurred there. No minutes, no nothing," Mr Harding said.

Archivist comes forward with details about boys' home records thought to be missing

10 Jun 2016,

Records from a boys' home that is set to be the focus of a case study at a royal commission into child sexual abuse are being held at the University of Newcastle, it has emerged, after it was believed the records had been destroyed or had gone missing.
The ABC earlier today reported on claims by a retired police detective, who said he had found no records, minutes or other documents from the St Albans Anglican boys' home, despite a "relentless pursuit" for the records.
An archivist has come forward, saying records are being held in the university's Archives of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.
The archivist has passed that information on to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
University archivist Gionni Di Gravio* has been in charge of the documents, and said while he could not say if all St Albans records existed, he was in possession of a large number of them.
"You can't always be sure that everything that has been created has survived, but there's a bit to keep a lot of people occupied," Mr Di Gravio said.
He said he had been concerned to hear claims that the records had disappeared.
"The story shocked me," he said.

* Mr. G. Di Gravio is voor zo ver mij bekend niet werkzaam (geweest) bij het Stadsarchief Amsterdam. net zo min als voetstoots aangenomen mag worden dat Mr. G. Harding voor of na zijn pensionering betrokken was Pro Juventute Nederland dan wel
een echoput exploiteerde op de Universiteit Nijmegen, laat staan in Groningen.
Op grond waarvan m.b.t. de laatste inrichting aangenomen zou kunnen worden dat de verzuchting "hadden we het maar geweten" in deze mogelijk eerder  geweten  zou kunnen worden aan zaken als gebrek aan interesse,  gezindten en fondsenwerving, c.q. diep respect voor  ἅγιον en γράφειν, de hagiografie in Neerlands polders.


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