1,100 accused Australia church of child sex abuse
Anglican leader voices shame and sorrow over report
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.
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.