1,100 ac­cused Aus­tralia church of child sex abuse

Angli­can leader voices shame and sor­row over re­port

The National - News - - The World -

SYD­NEY // The head of Aus­tralia’s Angli­can Church ex­pressed sor­row and shame after a gov­ern­ment re­port pub­lished yes­ter­day said about 1,100 peo­ple had filed child sex­ual as­sault claims against the church over 35 years.

The in­terim re­port, which said most child vic­tims were about 11 years old when they were abused, came a month after a high- level in­quiry into child abuse was told that the Catholic church in Aus­tralia had paid A$ 276 mil­lion ( Dh$ 781m) in com­pen­sa­tion to thou­sands of vic­tims since 1980.

The re­port, which was pub­lished by the same in­quiry, the Royal Com­mis­sion Into Child Abuse, said the com­plaints iden­ti­fied 569 Angli­can clergy, teach­ers and vol­un­teers as al­leged abusers. There were an­other 133 al­leged abusers whose roles at the church were not known.

Mel­bourne arch­bishop Philip Freier said he felt a “per­sonal sense of shame and sor­row” at the way the church had ap­par­ently si­lenced the vic­tims.

“Angli­cans have been truly shocked and dis­mayed by the scope of our fail­ure to tackle child sex­ual abuse within the church,” said Mr Freier, pri­mate of the church.

A royal com­mis­sion is Aus­tralia’s most pow­er­ful kind of gov­ern­ment-ap­pointed in­quiry and can com­pel wit­nesses to give ev­i­dence and rec­om­mend pros­e­cu­tions.

The cur­rent royal com­mis­sion heard that 7 per cent of Catholic priests work­ing in Aus­tralia between 1950 and 2010 were ac­cused of pae­dophilia crimes, but few of the priests were pur­sued.

The com­mis­sion’s lat­est re­port said 1,082 peo­ple had lodged com­plaints between 1980 and 2015 about 1,115 al­leged in­ci­dents while they were in the care of the church. Some of the in­ci­dents oc­curred in 1950. The Angli­can church had paid A$ 31m to 459 of those com­plainants, the re­port said. An­other re­port pub­lished by the in­quiry last month said the church had paid com­pen­sa­tion to about three-quar­ters of com­plainants.

The royal com­mis­sion is due to re­port to the gov­ern­ment in De­cem­ber.

Jeremy Piper / Reuters

Anne Hy­wood, gen­eral sec­re­tary of Aus­tralia’s Angli­can Church, at a pub­lic hear­ing of the royal com­mis­sion that is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions of the sex­ual abuse of chil­dren.

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