Sex abuse royal commission: Angry victim reveals details of Pell letter apologising for suffering at hands of ‘creepy’ paedophile priest


Sex abuse royal commission: Angry victim reveals details of Pell letter apologising for suffering at hands of ‘creepy’ paedophile priest

By Louise Milligan and Andy Burns
November 26,2015
From the Link: Sex abuse royal commission: Angry victim reveals details of Pell letter apologising for suffering at hands of ‘creepy’ paedophile priest

Pedophile Priest Peter Searson

Pedophile Priest Peter Searson

A victim of notorious paedophile priest Peter Searson has revealed the contents of a letter of apology to her from former archbishop George Pell about her abuse.

The letter paints a different picture to the evidence given by Cardinal Pell to a Victorian inquiry in 2013.

Julie Stewart gave evidence on Wednesday morning to the royal commission into child sex abuse about her treatment at the hands of Father Peter Searson at the Doveton Holy Family Parish in outer Melbourne in the 1980s.

The letter, signed by the then-archbishop Pell and written in 1998, accepts that Ms Stewart was abused.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church and personally, I apologise to you and to those around you for the wrongs and hurt you have suffered at the hands of Father Searson,” it says.

But, while being questioned in 2013 by Victorian MP Frank McGuire, Cardinal Pell defended his actions in relation to Searson.

The transcript of his evidence reads: “…No conviction was recorded for Searson for sexual misbehaviour – there might be victims…”

Ms Stewart told 7.30 she was deeply angered by the statement that “there might be victims”, so decided to tell her story to the royal commission for the first time.

“Oh, I was absolutely so angry. And I thought, ‘let’s get ’em’,” she said.

When asked by 7.30 what she thought of Cardinal Pell, she answered: “Not very much.”

Ms Stewart was abused by Searson in 1984 and 1985 at Holy Family when she was nine and 10 years old. The school was a hot spot for a succession of paedophile priests through the 1970s and 1980s.

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal George Pell

Cardinal Pell, who has engaged personal legal representation for this royal commission, will reserve the right to cross-examine witnesses, including victims of paedophile clergy, despite a Church decision not to do so.

Evidence will also be heard this week from the principal of the Holy Family School at the time, Graeme Sleeman, who quit in disgust after he says the parish was left unprotected from Searson by the Catholic Church.

“When Searson was sent to me, priests, people, contacted me at the school to say ‘mate, you are getting this crazy guy’,” Mr Sleeman told 730.

“In all my life, I have never been frightened of anyone, but Peter Searson scared me. Because he was a really, really creepy guy.”

The former principal, whose career was left in ruins following Searson’s arrrival at the school, said the Catholic Education Office received numerous complaints about the priest but ignored them.

“They said ‘we’ve passed it on’. And they kept constantly telling me, ‘that is not concrete evidence, we need concrete evidence’. I don’t know how much more concrete evidence we could give them,” Mr Sleeman said.

The commission has received in evidence dozens of letters from the time Mr Sleeman left the school from concerned parents and parishioners who wanted Searson out.

Mr Sleeman told 7.30 the Church failed the students of Holy Family School.

“I signed a contract to be a principal at that school which said I would uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church and I would provide a safe environment for children. And the diocese really did not assist me in providing a safe environment for any of the students in that school,” he said.

The Catholic Church substantiated four complaints of child sexual abuse against Searson. He was also convicted in 1997 of hitting an altar boy. He died in 2009.

Does George Pell still have questions to answer over his handling of child sexual abuse claims? Video.

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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 Cardinal George Pell, Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Father Peter Searson, 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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