NZ Police say Cardinal Dew has no case to answer in sex abuse allegation

Cardinal John Dew

New Zealand Police have found emeritus Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand, John Dew has no case to answer regarding a historical sexual abuse allegation.

Dew was accused of serious criminal sexual misconduct during his time as an assistant priest in Upper Hutt.

The announcement comes after a 10-month Police probe into the allegation dating back 46 years.

The Police have determined the allegation is unsubstantiated.

Witnesses swear affidavits

Dew acknowledged the assistance of several witnesses who came forward, swearing affidavits establishing the allegation did not happen and could never have happened.

In a statement, Dew says he does not know the person making the allegation and has never met him.

The alleged incident is said to have occurred in November 1977 when the complainant was sent to an orphanage in Lower Hutt owned by the Sisters of Mercy.

The complainant was in the orphanage’s care for less than two weeks.

Integrity a guide

“The word ‘integrity’ has always meant a great deal to me, and those words have guided my life” Dew said.

Dew stated that when he became a Bishop almost thirty years ago, he was asked what his Episcopal motto would be.

“I had no hesitation in saying that it would consist of three words, “Peace through Integrity”.

“I have tried in my forty-seven years of priesthood to live as a man of integrity.”

People CathNews has spoken to about the allegation are shocked.

“No, it can’t be true.”

“I always found his relationships with people to be both careful and respectful.”

Royal Commission involvement

Dew appeared on behalf of the Catholic Church at the Royal Commission into Abuse of those in State Care and Faith-based Institutions.

He said he could not have gone into the witness box and made a public apology on behalf of the Catholic Church in New Zealand if the allegation were true.

Chronology of events

Dew says he first heard of the allegation on 6 May last year – the day after he retired as Archbishop of Wellington.

Dew’s successor, Archbishop Paul Martin, contacted him asking for an urgent meeting.

Martin informed Dew that an allegation had been made against him, dating back 46 years to when he was an assistant priest in Upper Hutt.

After meeting with Martin, Dew says the established church protocols were followed, which involved stepping aside from all ministries during the Police investigation.

When the Police interviewed him about the allegation, Dew said:

“I stated immediately, and state again now, that there have never been any instances of improper or abusive behaviour in my 48 years of priesthood.”

Dew still does not have a written copy of the complaint from the Church’s National Office of Professional Standards.

TV3 provides details Dew did not know

Although Martin had informed him that an allegation had been made, Dew did not know any details of the allegation until August 3, when he received a text message from a TV3 reporter.

The following day, another text arrived saying TV3 would give Dew until 10:00 am on Monday, August 7th, to respond because they were airing a programme that evening.

Through his lawyer, Dew asked the reporter to provide details of what he was said to have done.

“For the first time then, I learned of the shocking behaviour I, and others, were said to have been involved in” Dew says.

After receiving advice, and on the grounds that the TV3 broadcast was false and grossly defamatory, Dew authorised his lawyer to take action to stop the broadcast of the false allegation through the High Court.

The Court determined it could not stop the broadcast and ruled that Dew’s only remedy was to sue for defamation.

It’s personal

“No doubt many of you have been dismayed at the many instances in which I have had to decline to participate in: baptisms, weddings, funerals and Diocesan events” Dew wrote in a letter to friends.

He says he is acutely aware of how distressing the allegations have been – and are – for many people: survivors who have put their trust in him, the church community, his family and friends.

“Throughout my life as a priest, I have endeavoured to serve the Church and uphold the Gospels with all of my ability” Dew wrote.

Dew says that while the Police have concluded their investigation and closed their file, it seems that others wish to publish the story against him.

Church says NZ Police investigation not sufficient

As well as a NZ Police investigation, Dew is now subject to a separate Church investigation.

The process, “Vos estis lux mundi’, generally referred to as “Vos estis,” is a Vatican process.

It gives the Metropolitan archbishop a significant role in overseeing a Church investigation when an allegation of sexual abuse is made against a bishop, priest or deacon.

Upon completion, the report is sent to the Holy See.

Until his retirement, Dew was the Metropolitan Archbishop in New Zealand. In this role he oversaw the Vos estis process.

As the new Metropolitan archbishop in New Zealand, Martin is now responsible for overseeing the Vos estis process into his predecessor.

During the Church investigation, Dew remains suspended from ministry.

The story remained embargoed until 2 pm on 7 March 2024, when the court’s suppression orders regarding publishing were lifted.

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