Child sex abuse inquiry: Police asked repeat abuse victim if she was wearing ‘neon sign’, royal commission hears


Child sex abuse inquiry: Police asked repeat abuse victim if she was wearing ‘neon sign’, royal commission hears

By Pat Stavropoulos and Samantha Donovan
November 25,2015
From the Link: Child sex abuse inquiry: Police asked repeat abuse victim if she was wearing ‘neon sign’, royal commission hears

Pedophile Priest Peter Searson

Pedophile Priest Peter Searson

A survivor of child sex abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest and a family member was asked by police if she was wearing a neon sign saying “come and get me” above her head when she was a teenager, an inquiry has heard.

Witness Julie Stewart broke down as she told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that she was repeatedly abused by Father Searson at Doveton, from when she was in grade three.

The inquiry heard that when she was 15, she was approached by police about allegations against Father Searson after they received reports she was a possible victim.

She said because she had also been sexually abused by a relative from the ages of five to eight, she found it hard to tell anyone she had also been abused by Father Searson.

She said her admission that she had been abused by two men prompted the police officer to remark “oh my God, what, were you wearing a neon sign above your head, ‘come and get me?'”.

The police took no further action.

She told the inquiry she would blame herself, often thinking there was something wrong with her.

Priest’s abuse began in primary school

Ms Stewart said the abuse began at the Holy Family School, where Father Searson was the parish priest.

She said he would often visit her class and hug the children, including her.

“At first I loved the attention,” she said.

“He was a priest, and it made me feel special.”

Ms Stewart told the royal commission Father Searson abused her between 12 and 14 times, beginning in 1984.

“It began with kisses on the lips,” she said.

“On about the fifth time and on each subsequent occasion, Father Searson also touched me.

“When he started to touch me, I knew it was wrong and it was sexual.”

After that, she said she would wear tracksuit pants or stockings to make it harder for him to touch her.

She told the inquiry the last time she went to confession was in 1985, when she was in grade four.

On that occasion, Father Searson placed her on his lap, so she could feel his erection against her backside.

“He pushed me hard against him. It hurt. He whispered in my ear, ‘you are a good girl, the Lord forgives you’,” she said.

“I snapped, I pushed myself off him, I ran out of the confessional, I was sobbing and hyperventilating.”

‘I will no longer be a victim’: Julie Stewart

Ms Stewart also spoke about how she tried to take her life as a young teenager.

She said she had become rebellious and hated her parents.

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

It was not until late 1996, or early 1997, after a chance meeting with a former teacher that she was told a Queen’s Counsel had been hired by then Archbishop of Melbourne George Pell to investigate Father Searson.

She said a year later, she received a cheque of $25,000 from the Archdiocese and a letter of apology from Cardinal Pell, through the Melbourne Response.

But she said the hearing to resolve her claim was distressing.

“I was made to sit facing Father Searson, and I was questioned by his lawyer for a long time,” she said.

“I was not prepared for how hostile the cross-examination was.

“I was taken into another room and asked to sign a confidentially agreement. I don’t remember what it said but I signed it. I just wanted to leave.

“When I left the hearing I broke down and cried … I felt that the whole process re-traumatised me.”

She completed her testimony, saying she still cried for the little girl she once was, but that she wanted to be a voice for survivors.

“The little girl that never got to be a normal little girl, doing all the things that little girls should do, the little girl that always wanted to fit in but always felt like a weirdo,” she said.

“Nothing can ever give that back to me. It is a life sentence and every day I make a choice to keep going.

“It is important to me to tell my story now, because I want peace for myself.

“I’m not ashamed anymore and I no longer blame myself. I will no longer be a victim.”

About victimsofrapebythercc

The Catechism offers a clear moral teaching: "Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them." (no. 2356) Note that rape is "an intrinsically evil act," meaning that it is evil at its very root, nothing justifies it, and it is objectively a mortal sin. An evil act was done against me, a crime, by a priest at St Thomas More Parish in Durham, NH. An evil and a crime I will no longer keep silent about. Those who perpetrate crimes against children, especially those of the Roman Catholic Church, should all be punished for their crimes against children. Anything less would be criminal.

Posted on January 18, 2016, in Archdiocese of Melbourne, Cardinal George Pell, Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Father Peter Searson, Melbourne Response, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse, Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Melbourne and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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