5 Dec 2010

Australian clergy abuse survivors say they are being re-victimized by compensation process and Catholic hierarchy

The Age - Australia May 18, 2010

Faith, hope and despair


BEFORE the nightmare began, Kellie Roche was a happy, outgoing 11-year-old. ''I remember always being loud, but so naive; I was very protected.'' But Roche's life underwent a traumatic transformation in 1981 when she was abused by a man she revered. He was a priest, Father Finian Egan, and the impact of that event is still with her. ''I have put up with a facade all my life … there is a wall between me and sex,'' she says.

The abuse by the Irish-born priest began in the 1980s when she was a pupil at St Gerard's primary school in Carlingford in Sydney's west. For the girl from a strict Catholic family, the guitar-playing priest was - apart from her father - the most important male authority figure in her life. But at meetings of the church youth group, Antioch, she says he'd ''arrange me on his lap and put my arm around his neck so my breasts were in his face''. She says he would then put his hand between her legs, and ''I would feel his erection''.

Since 1996, the Catholic community in Australia has been dealing with the fallout from sexual abuse through the protocols Towards Healing and the Melbourne Response. In both, claims of clerical abuse are examined by an an independent assessor, and the assessment is then used by the church to determine compensation. Crucially, if the victim submits to the process, they sign away any rights to sue.

But for some victims, the process does not take them towards any kind of real healing or catharsis. And for Egan's other known victim, Kathy*, the process was devastating. ''I believe in God, I just don't believe in the Catholic Church,'' she says now.

When Kathy first complained in early 2008, she was encouraged by the church's response. The nun she met cried with her, declaring that ''people like [Egan] give people like her a bad name''. Later that year, both women were told their complaints would be resolved within six months. But delays and an appeal by Egan meant it took more than two years until both claims against the priest were finalised.

In part, the delays were caused by Egan embarking on overseas trips, including golfing holidays to Ireland, and the compensation claims dragged on into last month. The women were told the church had no power to stop Egan leaving Australia.

Because of Egan's abuse, Kathy has suffered a lifetime of abusive relationships: ''with every guy there is just no trust''. So the delays were ''like a sledgehammer … in the chest'' and sent her into another spiral of depression.

After the church upheld the women's claims, Egan did not appeal until the last possible day, three months after the assessor released her finding. Initially, the appeal cleared Egan on a technicality, a verdict that floored both women. After months of internal church wrangling, the bishop concerned stepped in and upheld the abuse complaints.

For Kellie, too, the delays were crushing. ''You feel like you have been abused again and again, but this time by the church.'' She says it exacerbated the abuse that was already a constant emotional handicap. ''It is just a poison that changes the way you think and do things, affecting you in so many ways.''

Patrick Parkinson is a professor of family law at Sydney University and has reviewed the Towards Healing protocol twice for the Catholic Church; most of his recommendations were implemented. He says more than two years of delays are ''just not on''. While not commenting on specific cases, Parkinson says, ''If the priest is trying to slow down the process, the church leadership need to take firm action.'' As to whether a bishop can stop a priest going away, he says priests are ultimately under a bishop's power.

Lucy*, now in her early 30s, was 14 years old when she was groped in her home by a trusted Melbourne Catholic priest and family friend, Padraic Maye. One night he clutched her thigh while he sat between her and her father. Maye also groped Lucy's sister.

After she complained, Lucy found out that Melbourne Response could also be tough on the victim. While it doesn't follow exactly the same rules as Towards Healing, it is similar. And the Melbourne Archdiocese has little power to enforce its own punishments.

What Lucy did not know at the time was that after she complained, another woman told the church that in the 1970s, Maye had forced her to have sexual intercourse with him. Maye was forced to retire at the end of 2005 after the church ruled he had committed serious sexual abuse of a woman who was in a ''vulnerable'' state. He was barred from any public work as a priest when Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart removed Maye's ''canonical faculties'', the most serious punishment short of defrocking. But Maye has repeatedly ignored the sanction. For the past two years, he has helped conduct at the St Patrick's Day Mass, most recently at St John's in Clifton Hill.

Archbishop Hart wrote to Maye again in April warning him to stop practising as a priest, saying that he had ''brought great shame on himself and the church and caused significant harm to his victims''.

Few in the church were aware that Maye was celebrating services illegitimately.

Parkinson says the church needs new ways to more easily defrock priests. Currently it is extremely difficult to ''laicise'' a priest, a process complicated by church law and the need for the personal involvement of the Pope.

''Because as long as they have the status, they can use that status for harm, and any church must have ways to quite simply remove the authority that people have abused,'' he says. The Melbourne Archdiocese has defrocked just one priest since 1996, even after upholding 300 claims of abuse against dozens of priests.

The church has a history of ignoring abuse perpetrated by Maye. In 2004 and 2005, the church and the police were aware of child sex abuse claims against him, yet he continued as the parish priest at St Augustine's Primary School in Yarraville. ''I was feeling sick about the thought of him possibly abusing kids there,'' says Lucy, who was aware that Maye was working there.

She believes the church should have kept him away from the school, as any ''teacher would be'' if they were under police investigation.

And in February this year Maye was the surprise guest at an 80th birthday celebration for Bishop David Cremin in Sydney. A notable attendee was the Irish ambassador to Australia.

Maye's predecessor at St Augustine's was Father Nazareno Fasciale. When Fasciale died of cancer in early 1996, he was due to appear in court to face multiple charges of sexual abuse of a minor.

The Melbourne Archdiocese knew of the court case, but still held a grand funeral, attended by more than 60 priests and bishops, including two future archbishops of Melbourne, George Pell and Hart.

At his funeral, mourners were told the church was ''immensely proud'' of Fasciale - a man who had told police investigators he sometimes got an erection when hugging a then 11-year-old victim: ''I suppose an automatic erection could come about. It wasn't wilful. I didn't set out to bring that about. It could have just happened.''

It goes on. Egan was the senior celebrant at a service in Sydney last year to honour his own 50 years of service. The service was advertised in a handful of parishes and held just a few hundred metres from the office of the Bishop of Broken Bay, David Walker - the bishop charged with supervising Egan.

Walker had been told to consider ''protective intervention'' against Egan. That was ignored, despite the recommendation coming from the assessor who examined the abuse claims against him.

KATHY remembers Egan well. When she was a young girl, Egan gave her guitar lessons in a church presbytery she recalls as dark and dusty. During lessons, she says he would slide his hand between her legs and ''he always had a hard-on''. After this, she started self-harming, slamming the shower door on her hand so she couldn't go to guitar lessons.

When the church youth group had a concert, Kathy says Egan stuck his hand under her stage costume, ''so he was confident about doing it in front of other people''. It was emotionally shattering for a girl who saw this priest as ''God on earth''.

''I was very scared of him,'' she says. ''Sex wasn't talked about back in those days, so I just used to shut it all out; it was like I was in a bubble.''

Kathy wants people to know that Towards Healing only exacerbated the abuse, the long-winded process pushing her into another deep depression. Her son once asked her, ''Why won't you talk? Why won't you take me to school?''

After Egan's appeal was rejected, the mistreatment by the church continued.

Last July, both Kellie and Kathy received written apologies from the church. But each got the letter addressed to the other woman.

* Names have been changed to protect victims' privacy.

This article was found at:


Sydney Morning Herald - Australia May 19, 2010

Church abuse victims deserve compensation without strings


In the past 50 years an estimated 30,000 victims from 25 countries have reported the crime of child sexual abuse by clergy within the Catholic Church. Only sustained global outrage has finally prised the lid off the systemic cover-up of clergy sexual abuse. It took until last week, however, for Pope Benedict to acknowledge the Church's responsibility for these crimes and to attest that forgiveness does not obviate the need for justice.

The internal processes by which the Catholic Church in Australia "manages" child sexual assault cases, Towards Healing (and The Melbourne Response), have frequently been presented as ones to which other countries can aspire. Overseas we have seen how countless more crimes have been perpetrated as the Church moved its criminal clergy from parish to parish. However, fresh and very disturbing allegations from victims in Australia highlight how Australian victims of child sexual assault suffer not only from the original abuse and its impact, but from protracted and allegedly flawed internal Church processes. Not only have perpetrators not been brought to account but in some cases it would appear, have continued in their clerical roles, with their hierarchical positions honoured. Recent reports [see article above] about the ongoing presiding roles played by a Sydney priest, Finian Egan and a Melbourne priest, Patrick Maye, despite serious child sexual assault allegations, are chilling.

One would have assumed that all children would be safe in Church. That of all organisations, the Church would have immediately expressed outraged about the abuse of innocent children within its walls. Surely the leadership of another organisation – a child-care facility, a kindergarten, on uncovering these crimes, would have brought such children to safety? Yet ironically the Church's response has often been one of institutional risk minimisation. Not only have perpetrators not been brought to account, but justice has often been denied. In the case of Father Egan it is alleged that victim compensation was contingent upon one of his victims not going to the police.

It is high time for the Church to establish proper funds to enable the long-term expert care for all those harmed by child sexual assault within the Church. And it is time for these funds to be provided without strings or constraints.

The Pope recently put on record a call for all crimes to be reported to civil authorities. One can only hope that monetary settlements and confidentiality agreements will no longer provide a smokescreen behind which perpetrators hide. Hopefully systemic changes will finally mean that child and adult victims receive the care, support and justice they need and deserve.

In the past 20 years, victims of clergy abuse have gained a voice and their revelations have finally shone a light strong enough to penetrate the dark history of the Catholic Church. It is important to stress that despite the number of victims reporting abuse, many clergy are beyond reproach. The Church continues to do good works in many areas helping and supporting those in need. Sadly this scandal has tarnished the work of many well-intentioned and industrious clergy. This is the Church's opportunity to expand its good works into the areas of child protection and pastoral care for victims. For the Church to show real leadership and provide public funds to lead the fight against child abuse, in Australia and globally.

This crisis has highlighted the destructive nature of systems of power that ensure silence and secrecy. The scale of this crisis within the Catholic Church is unprecedented. Yet the crime of child sexual assault is not limited to the Catholic Church. It knows no doctrinal boundaries and a plethora of other institutions and religions have their own crimes to answer. The victims of Catholic clergy abuse have courageously led the way. As the Australian victims who are now speaking out attest, the process of reclaiming one's life is far from easy.

One would hope the tide is finally turning as regards to child sexual assault within the Catholic Church. As further Australian victims add their voices to those of other victims, we anxiously await the Church's renewed response.

Dr Cathy Kezelman is chairwoman of Adults Surviving Child Abuse and author of Innocence Revisited – a tale in parts.

This article was found at:


Child sex abuse inquiry finds Ontario church and gov't institutions revictimized survivors seeking help

Victims of sex abuse in Quebec revictimized by statute of limitations and lack of therapy services


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