Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Victoria

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The Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Victoria is part of the Catholic clerical sexual abuse in Australia and the much wider Catholic sexual abuse scandal in general, which involves charges, convictions, trials and ongoing investigations into allegations of sex crimes committed by Catholic priests and members of religious orders.[1] The Catholic Church in Victoria has been implicated in a reported 40 suicides among about 620 sexual abuse victims acknowledged to the public after internal investigations by the Catholic Church in Victoria.

Following a preliminary 2012 police investigation, on 17 April 2012, the Government established the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations "to inquire into, consider and report to the Parliament on the processes by which religious and other non-government organisations respond to the criminal abuse of children by personnel within their organisations."[2] The Inquiry tabled its report to Parliament on 13 November 2013 and the Government tabled its response to the Inquiry's recommendations on 8 May 2014.[3]

History of abuse[edit]

In April 2012, citing press reports that police were preparing a coronial brief on some 40 suicides linked to sexual abuse by clergy, the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, said he thought "that Victoria Police should give the report to the Coroner. There needs to be a proper investigation of any suicides."[4][5][6][7][8]

Shortly after press reports of the deaths based on a leaked police report written by Detective Sergeant Kevin Carson[9] the Victorian government moved for the Family and Community Development Committee of the Victorian Parliament to investigate "into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations." The committee commenced an inquiry into "the processes by which religious and other non-government organisations respond to the criminal abuse of children by personnel within their organisations".[10] Archbishop Hart made a submission to the parliamentary committee on behalf of the leaders of the Catholic Church in Victoria, called Facing the Truth.[11] In a preliminary statement it indicated that: "In the past 16 years, about 620 cases of criminal child abuse have been upheld by the Church in Victoria. Most claims relate to incidents from 30 and up to 80 years ago. The Church has received very few complaints of abuse that has taken place since 1990."[11] Reasoning that because sexual abuse is rarely reported, campaign groups believe these numbers may represent only a fraction of the cases which actually occurred.[12]

Regarding the inquiry, Shane Mackinlay, master of the Catholic Theological College in Melbourne, said, "Our submission [faces] the truth of those sort of numbers and the horrific extent and the horrific consequences for each of the victims represented by the numbers... Where there was absolutely dramatic and appalling rates of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s, that's dropped off extraordinarily." The submission to Parliament was not released in full.[5]

Archbishop Hart made a statement about the "horrific abuse": "We look to this inquiry to assist the healing of those who have been abused, to examine the broad context of the church's response, especially over the last 16 years, and to make recommendations to enhance the care for victims and preventative measures that are now in place."[12]

The Inquiry finished holding hearings in mid-2013 and tabled its report to Parliament on 13 November 2013 and the Government tabled its response to the Inquiry's recommendations on 8 May 2014. The Government supported all the recommendations of the Inquiry, some of them in principle and others of which had already been implemented.[13]

Individual cases[edit]

  • Michael Charles Glennon - Glennon was sentenced to at least 15 years in jail for sexually abusing four Aboriginal boys between 1984 and 1991[14]
  • Wilfred James Baker (1 July 1936—14 February 2014) - Baker was first sentenced on 8 June 1999 to four years, with parole after two, for sex crimes against eight boys, aged 10 to 13, between 1960 and 1979.[15][16] Baker was scheduled to face further charges in 2014 involving more boys, but died before the hearing on 14 February 2014, aged 77.[17]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Child abuse scandals faced by Roman Catholic Church". The Telegraph. United Kingdom. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  2. ^ REFERRAL OF TERMS OF REFERENCE TO THE FAMILY AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
  3. ^ "Report and Response". Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations. Parliament of Victoria. 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Hart, Denis (13 April 2012). "Archbishop says suicide report should be given to the Coroner". Media Release. Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Jonathan Pearlman (22 September 2012). "Australian Roman Catholic Church admits child sex abuse". The Telegraph. 
  6. ^ Hobday, Liz (29 February 2012). "Police prepare coronial brief on Catholic Church abuse suicides". The World Today. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Bell, Frances (17 April 2012). "Victoria announces inquiry into clergy child abuse". Lateline. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Donovan, Samantha (17 April 2012). "Victoria launches child abuse inquiry". PM. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Canberra Times "Church's suicide victims", 13 April 2012, Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker and Jane Lee, http://www.canberratimes.com.au/victoria/churchs-suicide-victims-20120412-1wwox.html
  10. ^ Ballieu MLA, Ted (17 April 2012). "Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations: terms of reference". Parliament of Victoria. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Facing the Truth". Media Release. Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Australian Roman Catholic Church admits child sex abuse". BBC News. 22 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Report and Response". Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organisations. Parliament of Victoria. 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Silkstone, Dan (23 October 2003). "Applause as 'evil' priest gets more jail". The Age. Melbourne. 
  15. ^ Ellingsen, Peter (4 May 2002). "Speak no evil". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Higgins, Ean (14 August 2007). "Penny-pinching justice". The Australian. Retrieved 24 September 2012. 
  17. ^ Broken Rites Australia, Pedophile priest Bill Baker dies while facing more charges

External links[edit]