Catholic Church says it’s too early to involve police in historic abuse findings

The Catholic Church in New Zealand says it’s too soon to bring the police into the historic abuse in care findings Church investigations have uncovered.

A more thorough investigation will have to be undertaken first in relation to the 1680 recorded instances of alleged abuse reported since 1950 – of which 592 alleged abusers were identified.

Many of the complaints were upheld at the time they were made, but it is not known how many resulted in a police investigation.

The church’s investigation into historic abuse was released ahead of the next stage of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into State Abuse.

One historic abuse victim, Darryl Smith, says he still suffers from the abuse, sleeps with the light on and scrubs himself raw in the bath.

Smith, who appeared before the Royal Commission yesterday, says he feels the state is as responsible as the church for his abuse.

Under the condition the former Department of Social Welfare monitor the situation, on the advice of the Ministry of Education, Smith was sent to Marylands School by his parents at age 6 because he had been running away from home.

After a police investigation in the 2000s, Smith received total compensation of $150,000 from St John of God, which he described as “rubbish”.

In 2012, the NZ and Australian governments apologised to him and he received $30,000 as part of the NZ Confidential Listening and Assistance Service.

Assisted by the Bishop of Dunedin, Smith also travelled to the Vatican to speak on behalf of abuse victims.

But Smith also wants St John of God to be held fully accountable and for proper redress for survivors, including adequate payouts, long-term mental health support, and housing.

“It’s not a money grab,” Smith said.

“It is what we are entitled to. You rape a child, you take their childhood away from them. Some of us have never worked because we have been so ill, or got in trouble with police. Why should we have to miss out?”

Although two St John brothers were convicted for the abuse of boys at Marylands, the criminal prosecution focused on individual wrongdoing, and little scrutiny has been applied to the roles of the church and state in the case – something which the Commission aims to rectify.

Victim advocates, who say the inquiry likely covered a fraction of overall abuse, are questioning what would be done with the new findings which followed a two-year inquiry.

“There’s still a lot not clear from our analysis about how many of the allegations were upheld,” Cardinal John Dew says.

“Most of them have been. But considerable research is still needed to be done to see how many have been upheld, and that is something we’re continuing to work on”.

Dew, New Zealand’s most senior representative of the church, says the information had not been centralised until now and had been spread across dioceses and congregations.

Further analysis would show what had happened to the perpetrators and what redress had been made to the complainant, he says.

Asked what would be done with upheld complaints that had not yet been referred to police, a spokesman for the church noted that many of the alleged abusers had died. The spokesman reiterated that more work was needed before any action was taken.

A change in church protocol in 1993 required complaints of illegal acts to be referred to police and for the appointment of an independent investigator.

This was partly in response to concerns that serious abuse cases had been dealt with in-house or were covered up.

The first independent investigator was former Police Commissioner John Jamieson.

The former Police Commissioner was followed by a former UK Catholic priest, Mr Bill Kilgallon, later a manager and chief executive of three social agencies in the UK.

Kilgallon was succeeded by the present head of the National Office of Professional Standards, Virginia Noonan, a lawyer.

In a media statement, SNAP Aotearoa NZ wants the names of all accused perpetrators released into the public square. “Names of those against whom creditable complaints have been made, and those again whom complaints have not been upheld, ought be made available to the public, with reasons for the latter”.


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News category: New Zealand, Palmerston.

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