DPP should be briefed by police: Failure to report child sexual abuse

6th Jul 2012

The ALA calls for a brief to be prepared by the police for the DPP in respect of the conduct of all three senior priests involved in the meeting at St Mary’s Cathedral on 3 September 1992, following the radio interview with Father Usher on ABC AM this morning.

Although Cardinal Pell asserted no admissions were made, the letter of Father Peters written 8 days later, contained clear admissions of serious criminal conduct by Father F against 5 children, including the child where a committal proceeding had been dismissed.

This morning, Father Usher conceded that admissions of serious criminal conduct were made and did not deny the accuracy of the detail in the letter from Father Peters to Father Manning dated 11 September 1992.

His excuse was that he did not know the names of the other altar boys and also that the charge in respect of one of them had been dismissed at committal.

“How hard is it for the church to identify the names of the altar boys associated with a priest in a small country town in a limited period?” Dr Andrew Morrison SC, barrister and ALA spokesperson said today.

“Ultimately, it was for the police to make the decision about prosecution. The failure of church officials to disclose knowledge that child sexual abuse was occurring is a breach of the obligations on all citizens under s316 of the Crimes Act.”

Before Father Usher’s radio interview this morning, the former DPP, Nicholas Cowdery, had called for consideration of prosecution.

The ALA believe that the case for prosecution is now overwhelming. This should include the case of Damien Jurd, where a specific admission was made by Father F, according to Father Peters and there seems to be an obvious basis for a fresh committal.

“Father F is currently walking the streets of Armidale,” said Dr Morrison.

“The only reason that his name has been suppressed is because of an alleged blackmail by victim, a charge which was dismissed when Father F admitted the sexual abuse on oath in Court.

"Police should apply for the lifting of the suppression order in the interests of the Armidale community.”

Tags: Access to justice Criminal justice Victims of crime