Photos of accused abusers removed from Dunedin College

Photos of three men who have been publicly accused of historical sexual abuse by multiple survivors have been removed from display by Kavanagh College.

The three men, Brs Richard Glen, Francis Henery and Victor Sullivan, have died.

In March, Dunedin bishop Michael Dooley (pictured) announced a name change for the College.

Dooley’s move came after a report showed former Dunedin bishop, John Kavanagh, did not act on a complaint of sexual abuse by Fr Freek Schokker in about 1963.

Schokker was a priest from the Netherlands working in the diocese at the time of the complaint. He was accused of abusing two young people.

He left New Zealand at some stage after the complaint. He died in the Netherlands in 1993 age 81.

Schokker was not on the staff at Kavanagh College, and Bishop Kavanagh did not know of the other cases because complaints were not made until some years after he had died.

In renaming the college, Dooley said it was an effort to “contribute to some healing and reaffirm our desire as a church to listen to victims of abuse and work hard to provide a safe environment for those in our care”.

Apart from the name change, College principal, Kate Nicholson, appears to have had no knowledge of Glen, Henery and Sullivan.

In a statement on the College’s website, Nicholson says it was not the “intent to cause any distress to survivors of sexual abuse in the Church, nor to past pupils and their whanau.

“As soon as ‘we’ found out through the ODT that this has happened, the boards were taken down and will remain down.”

Nicholson says finding a balance between recognising the positive history and traditions and making pupils proud of their place in Catholic schooling in Dunedin has become a challenge in the last few years.

“I hope that our current whānau and wider community recognise the significant commitment we have made to the survivors of abuse and to all the young people in our care as we undertake to begin a new, forward-looking and exemplary history as Trinity Catholic College next year.”

The discovery of the displayed photos stunned old boy survivors who were on a recent reunion tour of the College.

Kavanagh old boy, Dr Murray Heasley, of the Network for Survivors of Abuse in Faith-Based Institutions, was on the reunion tour.

The ODT reports Heasley saying survivors had been told over and over that the church now had a survivor focus, and there was no longer a default position to protect predators and the reputation of schools.

“Did not a single staff member find the honouring of these men reprehensible and unconscionable?

“Is there no awareness, no consciousness of the damage to any victim survivor who might chance on the faces of these men on the walls … ?”

He said all Catholics were “spiritually, morally and ethically obligated to share and accept the pain and suffering of those grievously abused by Glen, Henery and Sullivan, not ignore it or dismiss it as unimportant.”

“On the contrary, this acceptance is axiomatic and central or it’s all a ghastly grift,” Dr Heasley said.



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